How Did Live Nation Get So Powerful?

A brief summary about how Ticketmaster and Live Nation carved out such a big part of the live music industry.

In today's pulse:

  • 🌐 Story Time: How Did Live Nation Get So Powerful

  • 🚀 Boosts To Reach Even More Attendees

  • 🏢 4 New Event Industry Jobs

This week we’re going to do something a little different. It was sort of a slow news week in the event industry outside of NIVA Conference announcing their programming and some more AR speculation.

So instead, I stumbled upon this really interesting article by Andrew Mies at WhiskeyRiff about how Ticketmaster & Live Nation control the live music industry.

The article is pretty long and full of ads that makes it hard to read, so in today’s Promoter Pulse Newsletter, I’m going to summarize the article (with a little of my own flavor) to share this interesting story of how Live Nation and Ticketmaster came to rule the industry.

🌐  How did Live Nation Get So Powerful

With all this movement within the ticketing industry and Ticketmaster in every conversation, it begs the question of how Ticketmaster became so dominate.

First, Ticketmaster isn’t on it’s own. As you probably already know, Ticketmaster is owned by Live Nation.

Live Nation has carved out a dominating slice of each part of the live music industry from management, promotion, venue ownership, and ticketing.

To visualize why it is impossible for fans or artists to escape working with Live Nation, let’s look at the way the music business connects fans to artists for live performances.

Between the artist and the fan there is generally a management company, promoter, venue, and a ticketing platform.

Over time, Ticketmaster and Live Nation together have carved out a controlling share of all four business segments between artists and fans.

Ticketing Platform

Ticketmaster started as one of the very first digital ticketing platforms all the way back in 1976. At the time they licensed computer programs and sold the hardware for ticketing systems.

Over the years, this early-mover advantage allowed them to become one of the biggest player in ticketing.

Management Company

In the early 2000’s, Ticketmaster pieced together minority stakes in many management companies including the most prolific Front Line Management, Warner Music Group, and eventually Universal Music Group.

Then in 2008, they wholesale took over Front Line Management. This meant that almost every major artist was now managed by the same company that would arrange ticketing.


Live Nation, originally SFX Entertainment, started as an event promoter in 1996. The company quickly became one of the most far-reaching concert promoters in the business and eventually was acquired for $3 billion. In a series of acquisitions and a spinoff, they officially became Live Nation and began buying up as many smaller promoters and festivals as they could.


At the same time Live Nation was gobbling up promoters, they also became owners of many of the worlds most prestigious venues.

A lot of time in the music industry, a successful enough promoter will end up owning venues. So while buying up festivals and promoters’ businesses, the venues started to come along with them.

In addition to outright owning venues, Live Nation also negotiates exclusive booking deals with venues across the country. This means any artist that wants to play at any of those venues has to work with Live Nation.

By 2008, they were promoting a staggering 70% or more of major concerts.

That same year they began a merger with Ticketmaster. They began requiring ticketing through their own ticketing arm for most Live Nation concerts and festivals.

Suddenly, not only did artists wanting to play at most major venues have to work with Live Nation whether they wanted to or not, now they also had to use Ticketmaster for ticketing whether they liked it or not.

And because Live Nation has a controlling stake in the management companies for most major artists, if independent venues want to book those artists, they’re often strong-armed into using Ticketmaster as well.

The Secondary Ticketing Market

The real elephant in the room is the exorbitant prices fans end up paying for popular concerts through Ticketmaster. Artists also don’t like this, because it is a bad experience for their fans.

Also, in many cases, the artists and venues are getting 0 cut of the resold tickets that squeeze demand and jack up prices.

This was already a major problem in the industry, but by 2022 Ticketmaster was ticketing 65% of all major concert venue seats. Then they launched their own reseller functionality… which allows them to get a cut of the secondary market.

This creates an incentive dynamic where Ticketmaster-Live Nation makes more money if they allow resellers (scalper bots mostly) to buy up tickets to popular concerts and resell them at much higher prices.

The artists get cut out of this deal still. The fans pay much higher fees and prices. But Ticketmaster goes home with a nice cut of the secondary market.

So it continues.

Read More

Now that you’ve gotten the high-level story about how Ticketmaster & Live Nation came to rule the live music industry with an increasingly tight grip, check out Andrew Mies’ article if you want the more in-depth version.

It is up to the courts to decide if they are a monopoly or not and what to do about it. It’s up to each of us to decide wether we thing they’ve been good or bad for the live music industry.

What do you think? Replying to this email goes right to me (Craig). I love hearing from readers and having conversations about the event industry.

Boosts To Reach Even More Attendees

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Reach event-seekers as they actively look for events. Achieve higher conversion rates on your event ad click-throughs.

Reach email subscribers who have opted-in to hear about events near them. Expand your email reach beyond your own list.

🏢 Entertainment Industry Communications and Marketing Jobs

There are a lot of cool job openings for communications, marketing, touring, promotion out there that we come across while writing this newsletter.

So we decided to start sharing in case you’re looking or know someone that is:

Tourism Manager @ Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau

Director of Marketing @ Kayo Conference Series in Charlottesville, Virginia

Thompson Center Event Manager (Entry Level) @ University of Nebraska Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska

That’s It!

If you have anything interesting you’d like to share, we’d love to hear it! You can respond to this email or send a DM on LinkedIn: Craig Heron.

Thanks for reading, and see you next time

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