Live Nation Settles Suit With Ticketing Startup, Buying Its Assets

Posted January 12, 2018 8:21 p.m. EST

Two years ago, Songkick, a ticketing startup that operated out of a loft in Brooklyn, filed an antitrust suit against Live Nation Entertainment, the colossus of the concert business.

The David-and-Goliath suit included accusations of abuse of market power by Live Nation and its Ticketmaster subsidiary.

But Friday, less than two weeks before the start of a trial, Live Nation announced that it had settled the suit for $110 million and an additional undisclosed sum to acquire some of Songkick’s remaining technology assets and patents.

“We are pleased that we were able to resolve this dispute and avoid protracted and costly legal proceedings, while also acquiring valuable assets,” Joe Berchtold, the president of Live Nation, said in a joint statement.

Matt Jones, the chief executive of Songkick’s parent company, Complete Entertainment Resources Group, thanked employees and artists “who contributed so much to our many successes over the last decade.”

Last summer, Songkick sold one of its main businesses, a concert-recommendation app, to the Warner Music Group — owned by one of Songkick’s major investors, Access Industries — and later shut down its remaining operations.

Songkick’s case hinged on the rights to sell a ticket. The company specialized in so-called artist presales, or selling batches of advance tickets — often around 8 percent of the inventory for a show — to fans. Presales serve, in part, as a way to thwart scalpers.

Songkick contended that Live Nation was interfering in its business by blocking its access to presale tickets and by demanding fees on the sale of tickets that Songkick handled. But Live Nation, which countersued, argued that its contracts with venues gave it the right to determine how those tickets should be sold. Songkick’s suit also accused Live Nation of threatening artists not to do business with Songkick.

The case was also punctuated by accusations of corporate espionage by Ticketmaster, and had voluminous court filings showing sometimes embarrassing internal communications among top Live Nation executives.

Many in the music industry were skeptical about Songkick’s case, and the company lost a number of pretrial motions. But until recently the company was insistent on pursuing its case.