String Cheese Incident's ticketing arm is suing corporate giant Ticketmaster in federal court in Denver, claiming it unfairly monopolizes the American ticket sales market and prevents independent ticketing companies from doing business.
At a press conference in New York on Monday, members of String Cheese Incident and its management company Madison House charged that Ticketmaster, which is owned by Interactive Corp., unfairly restricts the band's ability to sell tickets directly to its fans by allocating an increasingly miniscule allotment of tickets to the band for that purpose.
In the lawsuit, SCI Ticketing, a company formed by a partnership between String Cheese Incident and Madison House, a management and booking company, alleges that corporate giant Ticketmaster has used its "monopoly power" and "a web of long-term contracts" to put a stranglehold on the supply of concert tickets. According to Pollstar, Ticketmaster controls at least 60 percent of the inventory in the relevant markets in this suit, and over 90 percent of the inventory in the top amphitheaters.
SCI Ticketing further alleges that Ticketmaster has entered into agreements with other companies including Clear Channel Communications Inc., to bolster its ticket market dominance. Ticketmaster has the exclusive contract for all Clear Channel promotions, and has sold over 11 million tickets to their events during the first six months of 2003.
Ticketmaster dismissed the lawsuit as frivolous Monday, and announced that it would countersue SCI Ticketing "and its founders," for "intentionally interfering with contracts and relationships in which Ticketmaster has made great investments."
The company said that SCI Ticketing's claims "lack merit and we are confident that they will be dismissed after all the relevant facts are established. SCI essentially wants to skim the best, most easily sold tickets, and leave Ticketmaster and its clients with the job of selling the rest."
SCI Ticketing counters that it simply wants to sell tickets directly to the band's fans, and questions why fans who go to multiple shows should have to pay more than one already inflated "convenience" charge.
Neil Glazer, SCI Ticketing's lead attorney said, "Ticketmaster is one of the behemoths of the concert industry. By filing this lawsuit, SCI Ticketing is hoping to put a stop to anticompetitive practices that harm not only innovative young companies, but also artists and consumers."
The antitrust violations alleged in the suit include:
Ticketmaster has entered into combinations, agreements, or conspiracies with promoters, venues and others, in restraint of trade, in violation of section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Ticketmaster has monopolized, attempted to monopolize, or abused its monopoly power in the market for the sale of tickets to popular music concerts, in violation of section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Sam Gustin & Ted Kartzman
JamBase | New York
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