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Songkick settles Live Nation litigation 

By | Published on Monday 15 January 2018


Well, this is no fun at all. Songkick has settled its long running legal battle with Live Nation in a reported $110 million deal that will also see the live music giant acquire some of the start-up ticketing firm’s assets. It means that what could have been a very enlightening trial indeed will now not go ahead.

The Songkick company – which combined the original Songkick gig recommendations service and the Crowdsurge direct-to-fan ticketing platform – sued Live Nation in 2015, accusing the live music major of anti-competitive behaviour.

The key allegation was that Live Nation – as a concert promoter, venue operator, artist manager and Ticketmaster owner – was exploiting its market dominance to stop artists from working with Songkick on ticket pre-sales to fan club members.

As it went through the motions, the original lawsuit was both streamlined and extended. The additions were mainly new allegations made by Songkick that staff at Ticketmaster stole trade secrets from the start-up and used them to develop its own rival service. These claims centred on a former Crowdsurge employee who had subsequently joined Ticketmaster.

As the legal wrangling continued, last July it was announced that Warner Music had bought the Songkick app and brand. Warner Music owner Access Industries was a key investor in the Songkick business. The ticketing platform previously known as Crowdsurge was not part of the deal, and it subsequently announced that it was winding down its operations, blaming the conduct of Live Nation and Ticketmaster for that turn of events.

The lawsuit stayed with the company operating the ticketing platform after the Warner deal. Renamed Complete Entertainment Resources Group, that company insisted it would continue to pursue its legal battle, even though it no longer had any active operations itself.

There was plenty of interest in the lawsuit, even though it always seemed ambitious on Songkick’s part, because there are plenty of other people in the music community who dislike the ever-acquisitive Live Nation’s market dominance in live entertainment, especially in some key markets.

Even though, as it evolved, the lawsuit seemed to focus more on the allegations of industrial espionage than the original claims of anti-competitive behaviour, many were anticipating some interesting revelations about Live Nation’s operations and exclusivity deals once the dispute properly got to court. After various delays, that was due to happen later this month.

But not now. On Friday it was announced that “Live Nation Entertainment and Complete Entertainment Resources Group, and related entities formerly known as Songkick, announced today that Live Nation has acquired certain assets from CERG, including CERG’s ticketing commerce platform, anti-scalping algorithm, API applications and patent portfolio. The two companies also announced that they have agreed to a settlement resolving litigation that was scheduled to go to trial later this month”.

Speaking for Live Nation, Joe Berchtold told reporters: “We are pleased that we were able to resolve this dispute and avoid protracted and costly legal proceedings, while also acquiring valuable assets”.

Meanwhile Matt Jones, the founder of Crowdsurge and subsequently CEO of the combined Songkick business, added: “We are glad to have resolved this litigation and thank all the employees, artists and industry partners who contributed so much to our many successes over the last decade”.

So, no fun at all for fans of messy music business litigation. Quickly, someone sue Ed Sheeran just to help fill this new pop courts vacuum. Yeah again. You can’t have too many Ed Sheeran plagiarism lawsuits.