U.S. Justice Department Prepares Antitrust Lawsuit Against Live Nation

The U.S. Department of Justice is preparing an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the suit could be filed against the world’s leading concert promoter and Ticketmaster parent company in the coming weeks. The suit would claim Live Nation has undermined market competition in live event ticketing. Details of the claims are unknown at the time of writing.

Accusations that the company had formed a monopoly first arose when Live Nation merged with Ticketmaster in 2010, though the department opted not to block the merger. In the time since, the company has been subject to complaints over excessive ticket fees, poor customer service, and anti-competitive practices from government officials.

A 2022 Justice Department investigation into the company’s ticketing practices picked up significant steam after Ticketmaster’s Taylor Swift “Eras Tour” pre-sale debacle, in which the site crashed and a subsequent sale was canceled. 

Live Nation president and CFO Joe Berchtold blamed bot traffic for the crash and called for new public policy to address bots in the ticket-buying process during an ensuing Senate hearing.

In an essay published on Live Nation’s website last month, the company’s head of corporate affairs Dan Wall defended Live Nation against allegations of monopoly, saying artists set ticket prices, not Ticketmaster and that most of the ticket fees go to venues.

Ticketmaster holds 80 percent of the market share for ticket sales in the United States’ largest venues, including many exclusive contracts with stadiums and arenas, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Wall contends ticketing companies compete for other venues in addition to huge stadiums. “If you have to hone in on one slice of the market in order to allege a monopoly, then there isn’t one,” he said in a statement shared with The Wall Street Journal.

The Justice Department reached a settlement with Live Nation in 2010 to allow the Ticketmaster merger. The agreement was set to expire in 2020. However, after Live Nation was found to have violated settlement terms by coercing venues to use Ticketmaster, the deal’s conditions were extended through 2025.

The active settlement prevents Live Nation from withholding shows if a venue uses a ticket seller other than Ticketmaster. Live Nation would be hit with a $1 million fine for each violation of this provision and others.

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Written by
Peter Volpe

Journalism student at The Ohio State University with a passion for culture and fat basslines.

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