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MPs call for investigation into festival competition concerns

Festival
20 May 2019

A REPORT by parliament’s Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) Committee into Live Music has called for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate competition in the festival sector. 

This follows evidence it heard from the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), which pointed out that Live Nation Entertainment controls 25 per cent of UK festivals of over 5,000-capacity, allowing them to impose what AIF suggests are restrictive artiste exclusivity deals, restricting the pool of talent accessible to independent festivals.

AIF represents over 55 festivals including Victorious (100,000) and Shambala (15,000). 

Gomez band member Tom Gray told the committee that competition issues and conflicts of interest in live music would not be acceptable in any other industry. He testified that the biggest players in the live sector have become “too big to challenge”, leading to a detrimental impact on musicians’ negotiating power.

The committee observed, “Exclusivity clauses that prevent acts from performing at competitors’ events give dominant companies an advantage over independent ones,” and called on the CMA to consider a market study of the entire music industry, including festivals, to assess whether competition is working effectively.

AIF CEO Paul Reed says, “We are pleased that the Select Committee has recognised dangerous conflicts of interest and stifling market dominance as a result of the vertical integration of conglomerates in the live industry. We hope to see the recommendation acted upon swiftly.”

Meanwhile, an attempt by radio station owner Global to build an empire in the festival sector has been abandoned, with the company selling-off its live event assets (see news story on page four). 

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