Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Great music must be shattered to save the industry

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Most of the soul, R&B and hip-hop artists that Alexander works with are in the process of creating a sequel. They need to be exposed, which openness to a more popular act can offer. But in Alexander’s experience, booking concerts in big cities, great artists almost always have management companies. When these management companies also own and control concert halls, there is simply no choice of the clubs in which its musicians play. Independent cinemas “are under pressure,” he says; sometimes they struggle to accommodate the kind of talent that sells shows and keeps the lights on. “In Memphis it’s a big deal,” says Alexander. “Most concert halls are small businesses.”

Independent site owners are also concerned that Live Nation is starting to spend its money. Last month the company ad it relies on $ 2.5 billion in cash reserves, and it has received an injection of $ 500 million from Saudi investors in April 2020 – luxury goods totally inaccessible to places and independent developers. Today, Live Nation’s share price is at an all-time high, three times higher than in March 2020, even though it hasn’t hosted a single gig in a year.

Many times, Critics who opposed the myriad mergers that created the modern and prominent music industry told Congress, regulatory agencies and the public that the agreements gave too much power to a few companies, in violation of the rules. antitrust laws.

Our two antitrust agencies, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, have reviewed every transaction and investigated time and time again. Under the Republican and Democratic administrations, the agencies did nothing, and today the industry is more consolidated than ever.

After years of inaction, the country’s antitrust apparatus appears poised for a revival that could end consolidation and disperse power in the modern music industry. At the end of last year, the FTC for follow-up Facebook under anti-monopoly laws for the illegal acquisition of rivals Instagram and WhatsApp to kill application competition. The case marked the first major monopoly case on board in years and demonstrated a willingness to unwind harmful mergers, which could certainly apply to the giants of the music industry.

Legislative action to strengthen antitrust laws also appears imminent. Last month, Senator Amy Klobuchar presented a antitrust bill it would require some large companies to prove that a merger would be good for competition before the government allows it. It would also make it clear that the law applies to companies that abuse their power as buyers of goods, services and creative production, which is important for companies that control the most important input of the business. industry: the music itself.

Bigger antitrust reforms could come out of the House of Representatives. Last year’s House Judiciary Committee report, in response to a year-long survey of monopoly power in big tech, recommended transforming the law to significantly reduce corporate power. Along with plans to disband big tech companies, the report recommended new rules to limit the power of dominant digital platforms to exploit creators and businesses that depend on their infrastructure. He also called for making certain suspected mergers illegal – a presumption that would almost certainly have ended last year’s Liberty Media mega-platform – iHeartMedia.

Encouraging antitrust cops to end harmful mergers is important in the music business, as consolidation continues at a rapid pace. In February, Sony spent $ 430 million to buy AWAL, one of the few large independent distributors of digital music, showcasing the majors’ continued efforts to control distribution beyond record stores. And Liberty Media has just completed the creation of a house Acquisition company “blank check”, with more than $ 500 million to target a company “in the media, digital media, music, entertainment, communications, telecommunications and technology industries.”


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