News Installation

Leading promoter compelled to rethink expansion strategy

test 30 January 2007

UK: In another significant development for the live music industry this week, the Competition Commission has made a final ruling on the sale of the Academy Music Group (AMG) venue chain to leading multinational promoter Live Nation. The development takes place amid fears of increased rental prices and an unfair monopoly situation, writes Greg Parmley.

The ruling upholds a preliminary report published in November which stated that if Hamsard – the joint venture between Live Nation and Gaiety Investments that was originally created to buy Mean Fiddler Music Group – wants to purchase AMG, it must first sell off two London venues: either Brixton Academy or Hammersmith Apollo, and either Shepherds Bush Empire or The Forum.

It is now likely that Live Nation will sell off Hammersmith Apollo, which it already possesses, and The Forum, which is owned by Mean Fiddler, in turn owned by Hamsard.

While the final ruling was unexpected, the news is frustrating for Live Nation UK president Paul Latham, who was tasked with presenting the US multinational’s case to the Commission. “At every turn, they just don’t get what we do,” he says. “It’s for middle-aged people who’ve never been to a stand-up gig in their lives, and they just don’t get that the buildings are different and that the agents and the acts decide where they go. They’ve just taken the easy option.”

The Commission made headlines when it was revealed that part of its research included staff watching a DVD of a gig in case they hadn’t been to one before.

When the AMG deal is finalised, subject to the Commission’s approval, there will also be Brixton Academy, Shepherds Bush Empire and Academy venues in Glasgow, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle and Oxford.


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