The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Monopolies unfair

Maybe I misread my economics book, or didn’t quite grasp the concept of the board game, but my understanding is that a monopoly is when a single entity controls all (or practically all) of a market.

Last month, Live Nation, a corporation that manages most major venues in the United States and many in Western Europe, as well as a lot of the acts to grace those stages, merged with Ticketmaster, the heart and soul of ticket sales in these same parts of the globe. This means the new corporation, Live Nation Entertainment, will control music performances from top to bottom.

Ticketmaster has been slowly raising ticket fees over the last few years, and this merger will only steepen that incline. With control over artists, venues and ticket sales, Live Nation Entertainment will be able to charge as much as they’d like with little or no competition. This could price out much of the traditional demographic of young adults.

Much like any other business sector, having such a massive conglomerate raising prices will knock smaller, independent venues out of business and will give less room for independent artists to rise to the top.

We may not see the effect greatly in Eau Claire, but Minneapolis could see massive changes to the landscape of its venues. Live Nation owns many of the large and mid-sized venues in the Twin Cities area, including the Target Center, the Myth and the State Theatre.

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Venues such as the 400 Bar in Minneapolis, which provide a place for independent artists and offer tickets at a reasonable cost, could be forced out of business if they aren’t able to get the national artists working with Live Nation management or if they can’t access the massive promotional outlet Ticketmaster has to offer.

Similarly, popular bands not signed to Live Nation Entertainment may be excluded from playing venues that would provide them the greatest fan base. The days of seeing Minneapolis group Solid Gold at any Live Nation venue could be over very soon.

Unfortunately, the Department of Justice decided to pass the merger despite protests from Congress and the White House. Certain provisions will have to be made, but in general both companies will still exist in full as one entity.

As horrible as this could be for musicians and concert attendees, the decision to allow this merger has much larger political and economical implications. This was an opportunity for the new administration to stand firm against monopolies, but it failed to make an example of Live Nation Entertainment.

In a turbulent economy, the last thing the United States needs is an influx of large monopolies that will raise prices and suffocate small businesses. The Department of Justice needs to make sure it breaks trusts before it begins to keep competition fair and allows small businesses to grow.

The implications of the Live Nation Entertainment merger could be horrendous for independent music (which is the only aspect of the music business currently thriving in the economic lull) and for avid concertgoers such as myself. Inflated ticket prices and processing fees could push many shows out of the average fan’s budget. However, I am more concerned about this merger not as a fan, but as a citizen.

Fountain is a sophomore liberal studies major and Currents editor for The Spectator

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Monopolies unfair