The Value of Independent Business Owners in the Music Industry

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what the world is going to look like in the future, and something that strikes me as incredibly important, at least from the American perspective, is having independent business owners.

An all-too-common story in the modern era is when a corporation comes in and buys up valuable properties or assets and ruins a good thing. Living in Charleston, I’ve seen evidence of it on King Street & more, with independent shops being pushed out for the next franchise to open up, for triple the rent!

Especially in the Music Industry

Another place where the value of independent business shines through brightly is the music industry, where Live Nation has control over just about everything that fans and musicians once held near and dear.

The house that Bill Graham built has become rotten to its very core.

There are examples across the board of Live Nation coming in to buy a once-great venue that had fallen onto hard times. Even if they were doing well, Live Nation is still knocking.

They take old, beloved venues that are in need of love, gut the soul out of them, slap some paint on, and open the doors. Everything is shined and packaged tightly, and they fill the rooms with tours that they also own.

Live Nation = C.R.E.A.M.

Sure, sometimes Live Nation brings good shows to cities that are desperately in need of live music, and and keeps beloved venues open. However, that aspect does not make up for the blatant disrespect for the artistry at the core of the industry.

In the end, their involvement homogenizes the music industry and removes the variety and joy from it. The cost is simply passed on to the consumer, who will continue to buy simply because they love the music.

Live Nation makes everything all about money, without regard for the heart of music. Not only do they own the venues and the tours, but they also own the ticketing company, Ticketmaster, and charge exorbitant fees on ticket sales that they simply pocket under the guise of operating costs.

What happens is, genuine fans can’t afford the ticket prices, and the shows become social hour for yuppies. They talk through the whole set and the experience is less genuine for the fans and artists alike.

Thanks, Live Nation.


Ever noticed how every summer, all the lineups for all the festivals look very similar? That’s because Live Nation also owns almost every music festival in America.

When you look back in the past, at a festival like Bonnaroo, for example. If you look back at their past lineups, knowing that Live Nation bought them out in 2016, you can see a marked difference as soon as LN comes on board.

The lineups went from being creative, carefully crafted, and wonderful depths of exploration, to being pop-oriented, data-driven for ticket sales only, with little respect for the creativity that fans of the festival value.

There are still some great acts to be found each year, but this is just one example of Live Nation taking a once-great thing and turning it into a corporate ad-fest.

Not to mention all the festivals that they buy only to shut down just a few years later (like Peach, which quietly disappeared in 2024). So, they take your favorite events, homogenize them, and then remove them completely, successfully consolidating their own competition.

So What Can We Do?

As a fan of music, you can prioritize supporting independent venues and artists in your city. Find out which venues are not owned by Live Nation, and support them. In Charleston, this would mean supporting venues like the Royal American and Charleston Pour House, as if you needed another reason to do that.

As a music industry professional, you can prioritize working with independent artists and venues, ensuring that the best bookings and acts are placed in rooms that have nothing to do with the corporate entities. Thus, increasing the value of independent music, and taking money from Live Nation’s pocket.

Ultimately, independent music industry businesses, and independent businesses in general, must band together, collaborate, and stay true to their values to succeed in this increasingly corporate business world.

I personally believe that there are enough people out there who are tired of Live Nation and other corporate BS that there just needs to be a tipping point for things to swing back in the direction of independent music.

Corporate interests ruin everything, especially the arts. Here’s to independent ventures!