DOJ files antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation-Ticketmaster

The antitrust lawsuit is accusing Live Nation-Ticketmaster of "running an illegal monopoly over live events in America."

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The Justice Department filed a lawsuit last Thursday against Ticketmaster and it’s parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, in federal court in Manhattan, New York. The antitrust lawsuit is accusing Live Nation-Ticketmaster of “running an illegal monopoly over live events in America,” AP News reported.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, along with 30 district and state attorneys general, is asking the court to put an end to the monopoly that he said is blocking smaller promoters, hurting artists and charging buyers unnecessary fees.

“It’s time for fans and artists to stop paying the price for Live Nation’s monopoly,” Attorney General Garland said. “It is time to restore competition and innovation in the entertainment industry. It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster.”

Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation in 2010 and is the world’s largest ticket seller of live events with 70 percent of tickets to major concert venues in the United States sold through Ticketmaster, according to data taken from a federal lawsuit, which was filed by consumers in 2022. The company’s annual report confirmed it sold more than 620 million tickets in 2023.

The Justice Department accused Ticketmaster of suffocating the competition and charging an “endless list of fees on fans,” along with using “anti-competitive practices” such as “using long-term contracts to keep venues from choosing rivals, blocking venues from using multiple ticket sellers and threatening venues that they could lose money if they don’t choose Ticketmaster,” AP News reported.

“Live music should not be available only to those who can afford to pay the Ticketmaster tax,” Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, said.

Live Nation denied violating antitrust laws and said the government’s lawsuit “won’t solve the issues fans care about relating to ticket prices, service fees and access to in-demand shows.”

“Calling Ticketmaster a monopoly may be a PR win for the DOJ in the short term, but it will lose in court because it ignores the basic economics of live entertainment,” Live Nation said.

Live Nation said that artists decide on ticket prices and that certain factors such as increased production costs, artist popularity and online ticket scalping are “actually responsible for higher ticket prices,” Dan Wall, the company’s executive vice president of corporate and regulatory affairs, said.

The company also said that service fees go directly to venues and competition within the market has ”steadily eroded.” Ticketmaster vowes it will fight back against such “baseless allegations.”

This is the latest attempt of antitrust enforcement by the Biden administration.

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