AIF worried about Live Nation dominance
The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) have taken a deeper look at 210 U.K. festivals with a capacity of more than 5,000.

Live Nation clearly dominates the market, controlling 22.81% of the sector, with a gap of 16.29% between the major and its closest competitor. Superstruct owns 6.52%, followed closely by AEG, which owns 6.22% of the events included in the AIF sample.

"Due to the overall growth of the market, more data becoming available and the cancellation of the 90,000-cap Rize festival , Live Nation’s overall share by capacity has decreased from 25.26% in 2018," AIF states, "despite the major company making further festival acquisitions in 2018 and 2019 including Camp Bestival and Rewind."

AIF members with a capacity of more than 5,000-cap make up 19.49% of the pie, some of which are also part of Superstruct. While AIF membership for its festivals has been coordinated by Superstruct, the individual festivals themselves are free to opt in or out as it suits them.

A total of 49.53% of events surveyed at are neither owned by a major nor part of AIF.

Former Live Nation exec James Barton`s Superstruct has been very active acquiring events across Europe in 2019. In the U.K., it took majority ownership of a number of festivals formerly owned by Global Festivals including Boardmasters, Victorious, Tramlines, Kendal Calling and Truck Festival.

Superstruct is followed by AEG Presents, which has increased its market share from 5% last year to 6.22% this year, according to AIF numbers.

What bothers the association most is that companies like Live Nation and AEG are vertically integrating various parts of the live entertainment value chain into their respective businesses: "Live Nation also owns Ticketmaster, the world’s largest ticketing company, and promoted 35,000 concerts globally in 2018.
Meanwhile, AEG owns ticketing company AXS, produces or supports more than 25 music festivals and owns, manages or books more than 90 clubs and theaters around the world hosting more than 10,000 shows annually," the association points out.

AIF CEO Paul Reed puts it this way: "Allowing a single company to dominate festivals, and the live music sector in general through vertical integration results in a stranglehold that stifles competition throughout the sector.

"Despite some significant shifts in the UK festival market over the past year, the dominance of Live Nation remains hugely concerning. It’s our intention to carry out this competition health check for our sector annually to track the industry and in order to keep attention on this important issue."

AIF published the ownership map during its annual Festival Congress, Nov. 6-7 in Sheffield, England.

The association`s definition of independent, as voted on and agreed by members in 2014, is calculated according to market share. Businesses who do not turnover more than 5% of the global market share of the live music industry and businesses who are not 50% or more owned by an entity that holds 5% or more.

Recent PwC numbers, as found in IQ Magazine, estimate that the live music industry will grow to $28.8 billion industry by 2020, of which $22.8 billion will be generated by ticket sales. Based on the 2020 figure, a company would need to be turning over in excess of $1.41 billion on live music activity to hold more than 5% of global market share.

Said Reed: "AIF is a growing community now representing almost 20% of festivals over 5,000 capacity in the U.K., and the independent sector is in a strong place despite the encroaching and unrelenting dominance of the major companies and the restrictions that can arise from this."