James Bridle – Wireless Festival 2018
Crowd gathers in front of the main stage in Finsbury Park, London, July 8
The UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) says Live Nation’s dominance in the festival market puts a stranglehold on talent and stifles competition.
To make its point, AIF published a festival ownership map for the UK, highlighting that Live Nation controls 25 percent of the country’s festivals over 5,000 capacity.
AIF – Ownership of UK Festivals
AIF’s data on festival licensed capacities was compiled from internal AIF member data and from information available online on www.efestivals.co.uk alongside other sources
According to AIF data, Live Nation currently controls 25.26 percent of UK festivals with a capacity of 5,000 or more – more than three times the market share of its nearest rival Global, which controls eight percent of 5,000-plus capacity festivals through Broadwick Live.
AEG comes in third, with a five percent share of that market.
In comparison, the 65 festivals and 37 individual companies that make up the AIF membership account for 20 percent of the market over 5,000 capacity.
Live Nation’s most recent acquisitions in the promotion business include Metropolis Music, Robomagic, Cuffe & Taylor and Isle of Wight Festival.
What adds to the company’s dominance is its vertical integration of other key aspects of the business besides promotion: ticketing, venues and management. According to AIF data, Live Nation controls an estimated 46 percent of the top 61 venue box offices and sells 500 million tickets worldwide annually through Ticketmaster.
It also points out that Live Nation manages over 500 artists and promoted 30,000 concerts globally in 2017.
AIF therefore renewed its call for UK competition authorities “to properly scrutinise Live Nation’s vertical integration and dominance, and the detrimental effect it has on the independent festival market.”
According to AIF chief executive Paul Reed, “allowing a single company to dominate festivals, and the live music sector in general, through vertical integration reduces the amount of choice and value for money for music fans.
“It can block new entrants to market, result in strangleholds on talent through exclusivity deals and stifle competition throughout the entire live music business.”
The association also announced the introduction of a “stamp of independence” for its member festivals, to allow festivalgoers to identify them as independent events.
The data on festival licensed capacities was compiled from internal AIF member data and from information available online on www.efestivals.co.uk alongside other sources.
The total capacity of all 203 festivals identified as above 5,000 cap amounts to 4,013,903, with Live Nation owning 1,013,999 (25.26 percent), followed by Global 305,000 (7.6 percent) and AEG 210,000 (5 percent).
AIF’s 37 individual member companies reach a combined capacity of 810,606 (20.19 percent).
Some of Live Nation’s biggest events in the UK include Isle Of Wight Festival as well as Wireless, Reading/Leeds and Download festivals through Festival Republic, Citadel, Lovebox and The Great Escape through Mama Festivals, TRNSMT through DF Concerts and Scarborough Open Air Theatre through Cuffe and Taylor.
The portfolio of Global’s Broadwick Live includes AIF member festivals Boardmasters, Y-Not and Truck. AEG owns British Summer Time in Hyde Park and All Points East, which premiered this year.