Concert promoter sues Salem in Portland


Salem CommunicationsLMG Concerts, a Christian concert promoter in Portland, OR has filed suit against Salem Communications, claiming monopolistic practices. LMG says Salem is using “monopoly control” that locks up the market for concerts in that city and others nationwide.

LMG is an independent concert promoter, based in Vancouver, WA that has produced concerts for Toby Mac, Steven Curtis Chapman, Third Day, and Michael W. Smith, among other Christian artists, reports ABC News.

LMG alleges Salem “has built a monopolistic, multimedia empire that is severely harming LMG’s ability to compete, decreasing overall competition, and resulting in higher prices and fewer offerings for consumers,” according to the suit filed with a U.S. District Court in Portland on 6/21.

The suit claims Salem Communications’ unlawful acts and practices “threaten to drive LMG and others from the marketplace, not only in the Portland metro area, but outside the state of Oregon…”

LMG is suing for punitive damages and an injunction for alleged violations of state and federal antitrust law.

In addition to naming Salem corporate, the suit also names its KFIS-FM “The Fish” Portland.

More from the story:

The suit claims Salem Communications’ live entertainment arm, Fish Concerts, “is attempting to dominate the Christian concert promotion business.”

According to the lawsuit, concert promoters, the “wholesalers for the live music industry,” “buy” concerts from booking agents “at wholesale prices negotiated separately between the agent and the promoter.”

Promoters can be responsible for concert expenses including the venue and they use various marketing strategies to promote a concert in particular markets, such as through print, television, and flyers. However, “radio is by far the most important and effective tool for promoting concerts because of its close relationship to the product being advertised,” the suit states.

The promoter then “resells” the concert as a live music event to the general public at retail prices through tickets.

“Because The Fish controls 100 percent of the market share for commercial Contemporary Christian Music in the Portland metro area, for LMG to successfully advertise and otherwise promote a Contemporary Christian Music concert in the Portland metro area, it must have access to advertising and promotion on The Fish,” the suit states.

LMG alleges that Salem’s practice of “threatening to deny, and in fact denying critical airplay, advertising, and other on-air promotional support, for LMG concerts and to LMG’s artists, has caused LMG to lose many business relationships and prospective business relationships.”

The concert promoter claims in the suit that “Salem Communications repeatedly has used its size and clout to coerce artists – including artists who had pre-existing business relationships with LMG and/or its principals – to use Salem Communications to promote their concerts or else risk losing airplay and other on-air promotional support” on Salem’s radio stations.

LMG also claims Salem Communications “uses its monopoly control over locally programmed Christian commercial radio airtime as the primary selling point to lure clients away from LMG and other promoters, placing LMG and other promoters at an even greater competitive advantage.”

Other “anticompetitive” practices by Salem Communications, LMG alleges, allegedly include: refusing to accept paid advertising to promote “or even acknowledge” concerts promoted by LMG, offering discounted or free advertising to artists in exchange for using “Fish Concerts,” and bidding up fees paid to artists so that LMG and others “cannot profitably compete.”

“Salem Communications will be able to recoup, through higher ticket prices and lower payments to artists, its losses from such tactics when LMG and other promoters are driven from the market,” the suit states.

See the ABC News story here

RBR-TVBR observation: There are plenty of other Christian radio outlets in Portland: KPDQ-A/FM, KBVM-FM, KKPZ-AM, Air-1, contemporary Christian music FM 90.3, 92.7 & 102.7; and K-Love Radio/KLVP-FM 88.7, 95.9, 96.3. Perhaps the promoter has some ground with Fish Concerts if indeed it “controls” the Christian concert promotion biz, but there is nothing stopping other entities from doing the same. The radio outlets are there and let us not forget promotion via the internet. Oh the other hand, refusing to accept paid advertising to promote LMG-promoted concerts could be a problem for Salem if proven.