Clear Channel/Live Nation Monopoly Case Nearing Dismissal
An anti-competition case dating back a decade may have finally concluded with a 63-page decision that Clear Channel/Live Nation does not have a monopoly on rock concerts. On Monday the judge in the case granted summary judgment on motions regarding the Denver and Los Angeles markets and granted the defendant's motion to dismiss the testimony of Dr. Owen R. Phillips.
The allegations cover the years 2001 to 2005. Clear Channel's former music promotion business was spun off as a separate company, Live Nation, in 2005. The judge also granted Clear Channel summary judgment on the plaintiff's claim on unjust enrichment.
Clear Channel was represented by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. The plaintiffs were represented by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro and Wexler Wallace. Both parties have three weeks to meet and submit a proposal to the judge about how to proceed with the remaining actions.
The case began when Clear Channel was sued in 2002 for monopolization, attempted monopolization and unjust enrichment regarding the nationwide promotion of live music concerts. The original case was dismissed but the claims reappeared in 2003 as 22 regional putative class action lawsuits against Clear Channel covering specific geographic markets. Those 22 actions were ultimately consolidated into the lawsuit that concluded Monday.
The judge found plenty of problems with the expert report submitted for the plaintiffs by Dr. Owen R. Phillips, a professor of economics at the University of Wyoming. One interesting piece of the judge's 63-page order describes how Dr. Phillips calculated damages in Los Angeles ($70.6 million) and Denver ($21.7 million) by calculating the difference in prices for rock concerts promoted by Live Nation and its competitors. But as the judge noted, Dr. Phillips didn't account for other explanations for the price disparity such as artist popularity or venue size.
At the same time, Clear Channel provided evidence that the artists they promoted were, on average, more popular than the artists promoted by its rivals. Artist popularity, the judge order states, "is undoubtedly a 'major factor' in determining ticket prices."
Among the other faults the judge found with Dr. Phillips' analysis was the way he compared ticket prices before and after Clear Channel's entry into the market. The judge granted defendant's request to deny this testimony in part because Dr. Phillips used only one variable - time - in what should have been a multi-variable regression analysis. As the judge points out, the quality of concerts and changes in the music marketplace (due to digital downloading) could have affected ticket prices, too.
Live Nation stated in its press release it believes Monday's result will be applied to the remaining 20 cases as well. "We are extremely pleased with the judge's ruling in these cases, which validates our long-standing belief that they are without merit," said Michael Rapino, Chief Executive Officer of Live Nation Entertainment, in a statement. "We've spent a considerable amount of time and money to prove that we're right in this litigation. We refused to be held hostage by frivolous class action lawsuits, and now we've been vindicated." ( Live Nation press release, Thomson Reuters News & Insight)
FanBridge Partners With Google Play For Special Artist Deal
FanBridge customers can sign up for a Google artist hub account without the normal $25 fee through 10am PT on April 3. The special deal is the result of a partnership between the fan management startup and Google Play, Google's entertainment destination that offers music, movies, apps and books. The artist hub was an initial feature of the Google Music download store when it launched late last year. There is no middleman such as a digital distribution for music uploaded and sold at Google Music's artist hub. Artists keep 70% of revenue. ( FanBridge blog)
Amazon Successfully Joins Tumblr
It seems just about everybody has a Tumblr page - including Amazon Music. The popular blogging platform is a good fit for Amazon. Tumblr is favored for its emphasis on visuals and sharing. Amazon uses Tumblr to post videos from new and upcoming releases as well as the occasional audio stream. Unfortunately, there are a few lost opportunities because not all posts include hyperlinks to order or preview the album at Amazon.com. But overall the blog is a nice companion to Amazon MP3's Twitter feed that has nearly 1.6 million followers.
( Amazon Music Has A Tumblr)