DOJ Seeks To Dismantle Live Nation’s ‘Monopolistic Control’ Over Live Events Industry

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The U.S. Department of Justice is going after Live Nation. The government agency has filed a lawsuit to break up the parent company of Ticketmaster, citing alleged antitrust violations.

After fan complaints surrounding a botched rollout of tickets to Taylor Switf’s Eras Tour sparked a DOJ probe in 2022, the latest news includes a lawsuit that the DOJ filed with the support of 30 states on Thursday (May 23), CNBC reports.

“We allege that Live Nation relies on unlawful, anticompetitive conduct to exercise its monopolistic control over the live events industry in the United States at the cost of fans, artists, smaller promoters, and venue operators,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland in a statement. “The result is that fans pay more in fees, artists have fewer opportunities to play concerts, smaller promoters get squeezed out, and venues have fewer real choices for ticketing services. It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster.”

Live Nation responded, calling the DOJ’s allegations of a monopoly “absurd.”

“The DOJ’s complaint attempts to portray Live Nation and Ticketmaster as the cause of fan frustration with the live entertainment industry. It blames concert promoters and ticketing companies—neither of which control ticket prices—for high ticket prices. It ignores everything that is actually responsible for higher ticket prices, from increasing production costs to artist popularity to 24/7 online ticket scalping that reveals the public’s willingness to pay far more than primary tickets cost,” said Dan Wall, Live Nation executive vice president for corporate and regulatory affairs.

In 2010, Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged, creating a dominant entity within the live event industry. The company manages more than 400 artists and controls roughly 60% of concert promotions at major venues. Moreover, as a result of the merger, the company also owns and operates more than 265 entertainment venues in North America, including more than 60 of the top 100 amphitheaters, while operating and managing ticket sales for live entertainment across the globe.

“Taken individually and considered together, Live Nation’s and Ticketmaster’s conduct allows them to exploit their conflicts of interest — as a promoter, ticketer, venue owner and artist manager — across the live music industry and further entrench their dominant position,” the complaint reads.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the DOJ lawsuit claims that Live Nation threatened financial retaliation against potential competitors and venues working with rivals. The company is also accused of strategically acquiring smaller and regional competitive threats to grow its already competitive channel, exploiting a relationship with Oak View Group, a venue partner, and flipping its contracts to Ticketmaster while discouraging concert promotion competition.

“In its own words, Live Nation uses its exclusionary conduct as a ‘hedge against significant improvements by the competition or even a new competitor.’ But the cost of that hedge is one that we all pay, for example, a broken ticketing website with substandard customer service that still captures your valuable data,” Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter said during a press conference.

Kanter added, “It is through these exclusive ticketing arrangements that Americans face the dreaded Ticketmaster tax, the seemingly endless set of fees ironically named service fee or convenience fee when they are anything but.”

Earlier this month, Live Nation reported having its “biggest Q1 ever,” announcing that quarter revenue was up 21% from the previous year. Over the past year, the company has received public scrutiny for its hidden fees in ticket pricing and other transparency concerns.

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