Independent concert promoter Seth Hurwitz and the Maryland-based companies he co-owns, It’s My Party (I.M.P.) and It’s My Amphitheatre (IMA), have taken legal action against Live Nation.
In an 11-count lawsuit filed shortly after Live Nation and Ticketmaster announced their intentions to merge in February, plaintiffs I.M.P. and IMA allege that Los Angeles-based Live Nation “deliberately” and “unlawfully” acquired monopolistic power over promotion for the national concert market, and has used its influence to “coerce” artists from only appearing at amphitheaters and other venues the company owns, operates or books.
Bethesda, Md.-based I.M.P. promotes live music at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., and the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., among other venues in the Baltimore and Washington markets. IMA is the management company for the approximately 19,300-capacity Merriweather Post Pavilion. Hurwitz serves as chairman of I.M.P. and is a co-owner of both companies.
The lawsuit seeks undetermined compensatory, treble and punitive damages, reimbursement for attorneys’ fees and costs to prohibit Live Nation from “continuing its unlawful anticompetitive, predatory and exclusory practices.”
The complaint alleges that Live Nation’s “abuse of its monopoly power” has forced artists who previously worked with I.M.P. to cut ties with the company and instead utilize Live Nation’s services, resulting in the loss of thousands of dollars for I.M.P. “IMA has also been forced to pay a percentage of its profits to Live Nation for concerts for which it otherwise would have had no involvement,” according to the claim.
The suit also claims that Live Nation “presently exercises monopoly power in 19 of the 25 largest markets in the United States for the provision of venues and venues services.” Live Nation is also “seeking to expand its empire into the management of artists, the remote sales of concert tickets, the licensing and sale of concert merchandise and other ancillary businesses,” it continues.
In a prepared statement, Hurwitz said, “At this point I am going to let the suit, which we have been preparing for more than a year, speak for itself. It says it all and I would prefer people read it and fully understand the claims we are making. But, basically, we contend that the essence of the tour deal is to use monopoly power to force artists to play only for Live Nation venues and where they wouldn’t otherwise, to the detriment of concertgoers, independent promoters and the artists.”
He continued, “There is a huge difference between enticing artists to play your venues by doing a better job, versus forcing them to play your venues by controlling the market and the acts. Live Nation has attempted to portray this as evolution into a better business model, but we contend that it is intended to prevent fair legitimate competition, which is illegal. All I want is the opportunity to compete fairly, and we are asking the Court to give us that opportunity.”
Representatives for Live Nation did not comment on the lawsuit at deadline.