Denver nightclub kingpin Regas Christou is alleging monopolistic practices against Beta Nightclub head Brad Roulier, who rivals Christou’s empire in town despite owning only one club. Christou has filed a lawsuit claiming an impact of more than $1 million in losses.
“Mr. Christou has substantial evidence towards the allegations,” said Englewood lawyer Jeffrey S. Vail, who is representing Christou in the lawsuit. “These actions have been harming not only Mr. Christou but others in the community, and we’re confident they will come forward during this process.”
Vail filed the suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Denver. The lawsuit claims that the defendants — which include Lower Downtown club Beta, its owner Roulier, Colorado-based digital download service Beatport (also co-owned by Rou lier) and New York-based artist- management service AM Only — have an unfair monopoly on A-list DJ bookings in Denver dance clubs.
Joe L. Silver, Roulier’s lawyer, said he and Roulier were surprised by the lawsuit.
“I think that Mr. Christou is really mistaking Beta’s popularity among the artists and the public as being unfair competition,” he said. “That’s what this suit may well be about.”
The lawsuit claims the defendants have leveraged access to the influential Beatport service, which acts as an iTunes for the electronic-music industry, to “coerce” A-list DJs to play only Beta in Denver. The anticompetitive and “predatory” actions — including the message to DJs that if they want full access and promotional support from Beatport, their only Denver performances will be at Beta — have resulted “in higher prices and fewer offerings for consumers,” the suit asserts.
DJ Rap allegedly was forced into an engagement at Beta, even when she preferred the Church — a Christou club — because Roulier told her booking agency that her two record labels’ catalogs would be yanked from Beatport’s service if she played his competitors’ rooms, the lawsuit says. Another artist, Deadmau5, was offered $15,000 for a recent two- hour set — “but after conferring with his agent stated that he could not accept out of fear of angering Mr. Roulier,” the suit says.
Other artists mentioned in the lawsuit include Christopher Lawrence, DJ Dan and Sasha.
Roulier formerly booked top- name DJs for Christou’s clubs, which include popular Broadway- area spots Vinyl, the Church, 2 A.M., Bar Standard and others. He left Christou’s clubs in 2007 to start his own club, Beta, and continue building his Beatport brand and DJ-booking business.
“This really began after Mr. Rou lier left (Christou’s employ) at the the end of 2007,” Vail said of the allegations. “(Christou’s bookers) realized Beatport’s influence in the industry was too strong and, given the way they were conspiring, (were) not able to solve the problem except through legal action.”
Christou’s lawsuit seeks an end to the alleged anticompetitive behavior and damages to be determined during a potential trial.
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