Liberty Media May Soon Dominate the Music Industry


Image via Pixabay.

By Colter Hendrickson


The Department of Justice has recently accepted a potential proposal from the Liberty Media Corporation that may allow it to increase its shareholdings in rival corporation iHeartMedia by up to 50%.

Liberty Media Background

Liberty Media is a media, communications and entertainment corporation owned by John Malone, who already owns Pandora Radio and Sirius XM as well as large, influential stakes in Live Nation and Ticketmaster. For those who aren’t savvy on those names, Pandora and Sirius XM are two of the largest radio streaming services in the United States, while Live Nation and Ticketmaster are two of the largest entertainment companies in charge of concerts and live music events. Liberty Media currently owns 71% of Sirius XM, 34% of Live Nation, 100% of Pandora and close to 5% of iHeartMedia.

iHeartMedia on the other hand, which Liberty Media is hoping to invest in, has the nation’s biggest selection of broadcast radio stations. They own more than 850 AM and FM radio stations and the streaming service iHeartRadio — they are also the world’s top commercial publisher of podcasts.  This proposal means that Liberty Media may be able to hold influential, head-of-decision stakes in virtually all major radio outlets as well as all major musical concert and festival outlets if they acquire influence in iHeartMedia.

Industry Concerns

Liberty Media is getting closer to becoming a monopoly in the music industry, and people are getting worried. Six public advocacy groups, including the Artists Rights Alliance, Open Markets Institute, Public Citizen and the Center for Digital Democracy are asking the Department of Justice to oppose the potential bid from Liberty Media. If the deal goes through, John Malone and his corporation would have a stranglehold on the music market through radio and live events. They would control touring, festivals, concerts, ticketing, radio and podcasts almost completely, leading to fewer options, less diversity in programming and higher prices — as well as other repercussions of monopoly such as exclusion and even social engineering.

Live Nation

The Liberty Media owned company Live Nation isn’t the most loved company, either. Recognized for its aggressive business tactics, it is also known for staying afloat through domination rather than innovation — devouring anything independent, controlling artist routing and stifling innovation. Live Nation has even been referred to as “Where dreams go to die.” 

Even then, the company is on the verge of bankruptcy. Portfolio platform Macroaxis rates Live Nation as having about a 40% chance of financial distress in the coming years as the corporation struggles to stay afloat amidst the COVID-19 crisis. But even though Live Nation’s success may not influence the grand outcome of Liberty Media’s holdings, it does suggest to a point that John Malone’s aggressive business tactics may not have the music in mind.

Final Thoughts

Liberty Media expanding its near monopoly is not a good idea, and many suggest it would be catastrophic to the music industry. And that may very well be true, but only time will tell if the proposal goes through.


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