Jennifer Lopez Is a Reminder of the Huge Risks Live Nation Took

The cancellation of Jennifer Lopez’s “troubled summer tour” has generated lots of media coverage. Concert-venue screenshots have made their way around social media revealing large amounts of unsold tickets for her “This Is Me…Now” shows.

Where it gets more interesting is in consideration of why Lopez is the story. The previous question rates airing in light of the unfortunate fact that it’s not just Lopez who has struggled to sell tickets. According to an account in the Washington Post, “Similar screenshots for other artists’ shows have also circulated on social media.” This includes a difficult sales climate for the Black Keys.

In searching for the answer to media coverage of the ticket-sale riddle, it’s no insight to suggest that Lopez’s personal life has made her the face of what the Post reports is not unique to her. With the tabloids reporting that Lopez’s marriage to actor Ben Affleck is similarly troubled, it’s evident that she’ll rate the headlines to the extent that a difficult sales environment persists more broadly for musical acts.

The main thing is that it’s hard to separate the Lopez et al story from the bigger one involving Live Nation, and the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) efforts to break up what it deems an “entrenched” monopoly. The previous descriptor has found its way to Live Nation given its broad reach in the live music sector as “a concert promoter, artist manager, venue owner, and ticket seller and reseller,” and surely other avenues.

Unfortunately for the DOJ, but happily for sanity, what’s taking place hardly showers the DOJ lawsuit with reason. In truth, the reality intruding on musicians and concert venues speaks to what enormous risks Live Nation took on the way to its “everyman” qualities.

To see why, it’s useful to point out that the story of cancelled tours isn’t solely about slow ticket sales. The Post adds that the “Jonas Brothers announced in April that they were postponing the European leg of their tour due to scheduling conflicts. Pink couldn’t perform a few shows last year due to a respiratory infection, and Justin Timberlake canceled a show this year after coming down with the flu.”

It’s all a reminder that in adding Ticketmaster and major concert venues to its growing business, Live Nation didn’t do the obvious; rather it made acquisitions that, depending on the day, week, month or year, don’t always live up to expectations. No doubt it’s great to buy tickets to be resold when demand is high, and no doubt it’s great to own concert venues that are routinely filled. The problem, of course, as the Lopez story reminds us, is that the market is a fickle friend. And musicians aren’t always healthy when tickets are sold. Most important, past performance is no indicator of future performance.

Applied to Live Nation, it expanded its footprint at a time of enormous upheaval and subsequent uncertainty in the musical space. Think CD sales, think “record stores” more broadly, and think MTV, a once culturally ubiquitous cable channel that is presently an afterthought as it runs episodes of Ridiculousness seemingly all day and every day of the week.  

For taking major risks Live Nation presently faces a time, resource, and money-wasting lawsuit from a federal entity possessing unlimited resources. The latter is shameful on its face, after which what should be happening is that Live Nation should be having endless bouquets thrown its way for making the right acquisitions and the right strategic moves at a time when so many did not.

Instead, quite the opposite is transpiring. For discovering a future that few understood or saw, Live Nation’s prosperous existence is threatened. How disappointing that this isn’t the big music story of the moment, but the one involving Jennifer Lopez is.

Republished from RealClear Markets


  • John Tamny

    John Tamny is a popular speaker and author in the U.S. and around the world. His speech topics include "Government Barriers to Economic Growth," "Why Washington and Wall Street are Better Off Living Apart," and more.

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