The Federal Antitrust Lawsuit Highlights The Cozy Relationship Between Live Nation And Oak View Group

LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — The federal antitrust lawsuit towards Stay Nation underscores the corporate’s shut relationship with Oak View Group (OVG), the venue administration and advisory firm launched by former Stay Nation chairman Irving Azoff and Tim Leiweke, the previous President and CEO of Anschutz Leisure Group, Stay Nation’s main U.S. rival.

When Oak View Group launched in 2015, it appeared poised to develop into a significant competitor to Stay Nation by reserving prime artists for its managed arenas and different main live performance venues throughout the U.S., difficult Stay Nation’s dominance in main excursions. The launch of OVG led Stay Nation to explain the corporate as one in every of its “Largest Competitor Threats” shortly after OVG’s inception, in keeping with the federal lawsuit.

Nonetheless, that potential rivalry didn’t materialize, and in keeping with the Division of Justice (DOJ), this was not a coincidence.

The DOJ alleges that emails between senior executives of each corporations reveal a detailed and coordinated relationship. OVG executives described the corporate as a “pimp” and “hammer” for Stay Nation, serving to to convey venues into the Stay Nation/Ticketmaster fold.

“I at all times defend you on rebates, promoter place, ticketing,” Tim Leiweke informed Stay Nation CEO Michael Rapino in a single communication cited by the DOJ lawsuit.

Moreover, the federal lawsuit alleges that Oak View Group successfully ceded the live performance promotion enterprise to Stay Nation, whereas the promoter large backed away from the world house to keep away from encroaching on OVG’s enterprise.

“It has been our coverage to remain on the sidelines in terms of shopping for and particularly selling tour dates as we’re cognizant to not compete with our companion Stay Nation on this facet of the enterprise,” an Oak View Group Senior Vice President informed a colleague by way of e mail, in keeping with the federal government’s lawsuit.

The DOJ cites a 2016 incident wherein the 2 corporations labored to keep away from competitors in negotiations with artist representatives over a possible tour.

“What’s up? We’ve got carried out his [touring] and Vegas[.] Let’s ensure that we don’t let [the artist agency] begin enjoying us off,” Rapino purportedly informed Oak View Group, with OVG’s Tim Leiweke responding, “Our guys bought a bit forward. All know we don’t promote and we solely do excursions with Stay Nation.”

One other incident cited by the DOJ in 2022 adopted an analogous theme.

“Who could be so silly to do that and play into [the artist agent’s] arms?” Rapino reportedly wrote in an e mail to colleagues at Oak View Group. OVG CEO Tim Leiweke, responded, stating, “We’ve got by no means promoted with out you. Gained’t,” and later added, “More than pleased to do these offers by means of LN as I’ve at all times been aligned,” and “I by no means need to be rivals,” in subsequent emails, in keeping with the DOJ.

The DOJ’s go well with additionally claims that Oak View Group helps steer venues to Stay Nation’s Ticketmaster platform. In keeping with the go well with, OVG projected that it could transition at the very least 22 venues to Ticketmaster over the subsequent 4 years.

Oak View Group has not been accused of wrongdoing and isn’t a celebration to the lawsuit.

In response to the federal antitrust lawsuit, Stay Nation’s Dan Wall, Government Vice President of Company and Regulatory Affairs, addressed the corporate’s relationship with Oak View Group in a prolonged assertion launched on Thursday.

“The criticism makes two principal claims regarding Stay Nation’s relationship with the Oak View Group (OVG), a venue administration firm. The primary is disingenuous, as it’s premised on the concept OVG was a severe potential rival to Stay Nation in live performance promotion. OVG owns and manages venues. It has by no means been a live performance promoter, nor aspired to be one—which is exactly the purpose made within the e mail DOJ quotes. DOJ’s declare is predicated on two incidents wherein Stay Nation and OVG have been discussing what to do when an OVG venue wished to e-book an occasional present itself on a darkish evening. To painting that as an settlement to not compete in live performance promotion is farcical—notably when the criticism defines the related promotions market as a marketplace for regional or nationwide excursions and explicitly disavows the suggestion that ‘self-supply’ of exhibits from venue homeowners is a part of that market.

Regardless, OVG’s conduct as a venue operator is absolutely per each main enviornment and stadium within the nation—they should have an in-house booker who helps fill in any other case darkish nights, however they’ve little interest in systematically taking over the chance of ensures that might be within the hundreds of thousands of {dollars} for a present or tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} for a tour.

DOJ additionally claims it was anticompetitive for Ticketmaster to compete for and win a ticketing contract OVG supplied. The idea is that the contract gave Ticketmaster an unfair benefit in securing the enterprise of unbiased venues that have been managed by OVG as a result of it creates monetary incentives for OVG to ‘advocate for’ Ticketmaster. However there’s nothing remotely anticompetitive about that. Business preparations that contain incentive or advertising funds are frequent all through this business (and plenty of others). Venue administration corporations like OVG and ASM are ready to advocate for quite a lot of service suppliers, together with however not restricted to ticketing corporations. So there’s competitors for the enterprise alternatives at each the venues they personal, which they management, and the venues they handle, which they don’t management however can doubtlessly affect. Ticketmaster competed and received the contract on the deserves as a result of OVG decided it was the most effective ticketing system obtainable.”