Live Nation and Ticketmaster sued by US regulators over alleged live concert monopoly


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Ticketmaster’s owners Live Nation are being sued by the US federal government’s Department of Justice (DOJ), alongside 29 states and the District of Columbia, over its alleged monopoly on ticket sales.

The DOJ is seeking a break up of the Live Nation-Ticketmaster operation over claims that the event promotion and ticket selling giant actively suppresses competition through its monopoly.

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According to the DOJ, Live Nation controls at least 80% of primary ticketing at major concert venues in the US, as well as owning or controlling more than 250 venues.

US attorney general Merrick B. Garland has said in a statement today: “Live Nation relies on unlawful, anticompetitive conduct to exercise its monopolistic control over the live events industry in the United States and over the fans, artists, independent promoters, and venues that power the industry.

“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.”

Ticketmaster previously faced criticism following its mishandling of Taylor Swift’s Eras tour ticket sales in 2022, which sparked widespread fury and led officials to consider legal action against the ticketing platform, over suspicions they had violated antitrust laws.

The DOJ has since accused Live Nation of having steered clients towards exclusivity agreements with Ticketmaster, as well as threatening venues with losing access to tours or other benefits if they didn’t sign such clauses. The company has also been accused of anticompetitive behaviour, through acquiring startups and threatening competition.

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Garland said: “The Justice Department filed this lawsuit on behalf of fans who should be able to go to concerts without a monopoly standing in their way. We have filed this lawsuit on behalf of artists who should be able to plan their tours around their fans and not be dictated by an unlawful monopolists.”

He concluded: “It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster. The American people are ready for it.”

Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said: “Our antitrust lawsuit seeks to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s monopoly and restore competition for the benefit of fans and artists.”

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Live Nation’s executive vice president Dan Wall has rejected the allegations as “absurd”, adding: “It is also clear that we are another casualty of this Administration’s decision to turn over antitrust enforcement to a populist urge that simply rejects how antitrust law works. Some call this ‘Anti-Monopoly’, but in reality it is just anti-business.”

The Fan Fairness Coalition, a bipartisan lobby group, has welcomed the lawsuit.

In a statement sent to the Mixmag, the FFC President and Republican antitrust expert Mark Meador and FFC Secretary and Democratic antitrust expert Amanda Lewis said: “This lawsuit is a response to the tens of thousands of live event fans who – with the help of the Fan Fairness Coalition – made their voices heard and called on federal officials to break up this platform that has dominated ticketing for far too long and prevented competition from driving the industry forward.

“The DOJ is taking a critical step to hold Ticketmaster accountable for undermining free market competition and hurting millions of live event fans across the country. The only way to ensure fair competition, more access, and better service for fans and artists is for the DOJ to see this lawsuit through to the end of Live Nation-Ticketmaster.”

Jamaal Johnson is Mixmag’s Digital Intern, follow him on Instagram

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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