Live Nation/Ticketmaster and Christensen Development have submitted plans to the City of Des Moines to operate a live music venue (2,000 capacity and 800 capacity rooms) in the Argonne Armory Building in downtown Des Moines.

While we feel an addition of a music venue would be positive, bringing a corporate conglomerate like Live Nation/Ticketmaster to exclusively operate it and receive tax subsidies is deeply concerning and would be harmful to the Des Moines music economy.

  • We are asking the City of Des Moines to explore options beyond exclusively working with Live Nation/Ticketmaster to control The Armory, including looking at allowing the site to be an ongoing revenue source for the city. We think it will benefit the art and cultural landscape most to look at alternatives that would include working with businesses already in place in Des Moines. We hope the City will have an open process with the community on the future of a city asset like the Armory Building. We feel like the people involved deeply with the music community should have input deciding our future as it pertains to the local music industry.
  • Tax benefits given to Live Nation/Ticketmaster for the project would subsidize an international corporation at the expense of taxpayers. This creates an unleveled playing field for local businesses, making it more difficult for them to compete. As it stands now, this property could be sold for as little as $1 and turned over to a private developer, with other tax incentives and millions in subsidies from the state and city sources required to develop the site. The projects as proposed will most certainly include TIF financing (Tax Increment Financing), which insures at best the city will see some property tax revenue in 10 to 15 years with little additional financial benefit to the city. The city should explore options which will put millions in non-tax payer revenue in the city’s coffers over time, before giving this building away for $1. The public has a right to review any and all financial proposals, as well as be given an opportunity for input.
  • Live Nation/Ticketmaster is the Wal-Mart of the music industry. They wouldn’t be just the venue operator, they’d be the ticket seller, the promoter and in some cases the artist’s manager, which creates an opportunity to collect at every juncture. Their monolithic approach to business makes it almost impossible for others in the market to compete. This puts local music businesses and events at great risk of being monopolized or shut down. If that happens, it would result in a lack of competition in the market place leading to higher costs for customers and reduced variety.
  • The first thought may be that a corporation of this size could bring more shows, however we (and many others in the music community) don’t believe that would be the case. If Live Nation/Ticketmaster has venues in 40 markets and there are only 25 available dates on a tour, Des Moines is not going to be a priority for them. Our best bet is to use someone local who is fighting ONLY for Des Moines.
  • Locally-owned music venues operated by those who live in the market seek to bring as many quality events to their city as possible. Live Nation/Ticketmaster’s lack of presence in the actual market they control holds them to no accountability aside from their bottom line. Shows would likely be booked by an out-of-state executive with their corporation’s earning potential as the major motivating factor in deciding talent. Because of their monolithic business strategy, they will also mainly book artists they have a financial interest in.
  • The Des Moines music economy has seen tremendous growth in the past 15 years by passionate residents. We don’t want to see that trajectory shift by handing a music venue over exclusively to one LA-based corporate entity.
  • The Des Moines music scene is currently a vibrant mix of successful, locally-owned companies that are invested in Des Moines. Live Nation/Ticketmaster will likely not have the same motivations and be taking dollars out of Des Moines and funneling it back to Los Angeles.
  • Local musicians will have fewer opportunities to be showcased on a larger stage — an outside promoter will have little interest in showcasing local talent.

Resources

Department of Justice officials are investigating accusations against Live Nation of inappropriate behavior in the marketplace. It is being accused of using its control over concert tours to pressure venues into contracting with its subsidiary, Ticketmaster. This could be a possible violation of antitrust law.

The New York Times

“From 2016 to 2018, Live Nation spent roughly $490 million of cash on acquiring or investing in various concert promoters, ticketing companies, artist management companies, and festivals. Among the deals were majority stakes in BottleRock Napa Valley festival in Northern California’s wine country, Bonnaroo founders AC Entertainment, and the Governors Ball festival in New York City.”

Pollstar

“A battle is brewing between Live Nation and Des Moines music advocates”

The Des Moines Register

“Local musicians think pitch for new music venue falls flat”

KCCI-TV

“Live Nation is accused of exploiting low-wage workers to stage its concerts”

The Washington Post

“UK Women at Live Nation and AEG Make 40% Less Than Male Counterparts, Study Finds”

Amplify

“Live Nation Rules Music Ticketing, Some Say With Threats”

The New York Times

Subsidiaries of Live Nation Entertainment Inc.

– sec.gov

Take Action

Here’s what we can do to stop LiveNation/Ticketmaster from having a monopoly over our live music scene:

STEP 1

Stay informed about updates by filling out the form below.
* indicates required

STEP 2

Contact Des Moines city council members to let them know your opposition. Please do so ASAP.

STEP 3

Spread the word! Share your position with friends and on your social media.

Downloads

Printable poster file.

Square image to share on socials.

Supported By

515 Alive
80/35
Banned Booking
Blazing Saddle
Des Moines Music Coalition

Gas Lamp
Hinterland Music Festival
Lefty’s Live Music
Mars Cafe
Noce

On Pitch
Raygun
SA Presents
Station 1 Records
Street Heat

The Lift
Tikly
Vaudeville Mews
Wooly’s

Want us to add your business as a supporter? Email us.