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Antitrust Complaint Against Music Promoter

INDIANAPOLIS (CN) - Zamora Entertainment, a Latin music promoter, claims to have "exclusive rights" to produce events in 15 states, and uses its market muscle to coerce Latin and rock bands to play only at its venues, a competitor claims in a federal antitrust complaint.

Sol Entertainment and Hispanic Radio Broadcast sued Zamora Entertainment in Federal Court.

The owner of an Indianapolis music venue says Zamora Entertainment monopolizes 90 percent of Hispanic music concerts by falsely claiming "exclusive rights" to events in 16 states and coercing artists into appearing only at Zamora-owned venues.

Sol owns an 1,800-set concert venue in Indianapolis called the Tropicana, and Hispanic has produced concerts there.

They claim that Zamora, a Delaware corporation that operates out of Taylor, Mich., owns and operates, "among many others," three Indianapolis concert venues, all of which have capacity of more than 1,500 people.

The plaintiffs claim that Zamora's "anti-competitive, predatory and exclusory conduct" have given it control of "over ninety percent (90%) of the major artists (Hispanic) touring at any given time," and that Zamora "dominates the spring through fall concert season." (Parentheses in complaint.)

The complaint states: "From the time Zamora first began promoting tours, the average ticket prices for the top tours each year increased by approximately 160 percent, from $25.81 to $67.33 per ticket, substantially greater than the rate of inflation. Prices for the most expensive seats in the venue have increased at even high rates."

Sol claims that Zamora owns and manages large and mid-size venues nationwide, including famous venues such as The Fillmore in San Francisco and the Hollywood Palladium.

"Zamora has deliberately and unlawfully acquired monopoly power in the Hispanic market for the promotion of live popular Hispanic music concerts. Zamora has wielded this power to entice and coerce artists to appear only at venues and other venues it owns, operates or at which it controls the booking, and to obtain monopoly power within many of the top Hispanic markets in the United States for the provision of venues and venue services to major artists.

"Zamora boasts on its own website that it has 'exclusive rights' to events in New York, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC.

"Now that it has gained control of these markets, Zamora is seeking to expand its empire into the management of artists, the remote sale of concert tickers, the licensing and sale of concert merchandise and other ancillary businesses.

"The ultimate object of Zamora's scheme is to eliminate and prevent further competition, control all aspects of the music business, lower performance fees paid to artists and to charge supercompetitive prices for concert tickets, remote ticket sales, concessions, parking, merchandise and other services."

The complaint cites a statement in Spanish, allegedly posted on Zamora's website on Oct. 13, that claims Zamora "tiene los derechos exclusivos para producir eventos en los estados de Nueva York ..." - has exclusive rights to produce in events in New York," 14 other states and Washington, D.C.

Sol claims that Zamora "offer[s] to promote popular artists entire tour during a season and coerce[s] these artists to accept tour offers by:

"A. Offering super-competitive shares of concert revenues to the popular artists, often guaranteeing the artist more than the expected gross ticket sales;

"B. Refusing to negotiate the scope or duration of the tour; and/or

"C. Threatening to reduce disproportionately artists' share of the tour proceeds if they do not agree to have Zamora promote their entire tour for a season, or if they use local promoters or play non-Zamora controlled venues during the tour."

Sol says these tactics have made it very difficult for independent venues to compete.

"As of 2012, Zamora owned, leased or had exclusive booking rights at several venues throughout the United States, and [is] in the midst of negotiations to acquire several more," the complaint states. "Zamora has extended its anticompetitive, exclusory and predatory conduct by using control of these venues to induce artists to utilize its promotional services and venue services by refusing to provide artists access to its prestigious venue or venues in areas where it operates the only or a monopoly of venues."

The complaint adds: "It is now recognized within the industry that the concert business is now owned almost exclusively by one giant corporation and it is now virtually impossible to mount a national tour without making a deal with Zamora. More and more often, Zamora solely purchases a tour, buying a band out for one big lump sum and tells the band where they are going to play and when."

According to the complaint: "In the last three seasons, Zamora has denied Hispanic and Sol access to artists, particularly major artists, by promoting national tours, insisting that artists it promotes only play Zamora operated venues and leveraging its control of other geographic markets for venues and venue operations to force artists to appear at Zamora operated venues. ...

"Major artists having a long standing relationship with Hispanic and previously appearing at Tropicana, including Maroon 5, Nine Inch Nails, Counting Crows, Pearl Jam and Depeche Mode, ceased appearing at Tropicana and discontinued their relationship with Hispanic after signing a tour deal with Zamora because Zamora forced them to utilize its promotional service and appear exclusively at Zamora operated venues."

Sol seeks punitive damages for violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act, monopoly, tortious interference, and unfair competition.

It is represented by Abraham Murphy.

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