US sues Ticketmaster, Live Nation for ‘illegal monopoly’

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By Creative Media News

  • DOJ files antitrust lawsuit against Ticketmaster, Live Nation
  • Allegations include monopolistic practices and inflated ticket prices
  • Live Nation denies accusations, citing competition and market quality

The Department of Justice in the United States has initiated a comprehensive antitrust lawsuit against Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation Entertainment. The lawsuit accuses the companies of operating an unlawful monopoly and inflating ticket prices for concerts, shows, and other events.

On Thursday, 30 state and district attorneys general filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court. The lawsuit aims to dismantle the monopoly they contend is forcing out smaller promoters and harming artists.

Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter declared in a statement that the live music industry in the United States is in a state of disarray due to the unlawful monopoly held by Live Nation-Ticketmaster.

“Our antitrust lawsuit aims to dismantle the monopoly of Live Nation-Ticketmaster and reestablish competition in the interest of artists and fans.”

Concert enthusiasts and legislators in the United States have been advocating for a reevaluation of Live Nation’s 2010 acquisition of Ticketmaster.

The ticket seller’s bungled sales of Taylor Swift’s first concert tour in years in 2022 garnered widespread attention. This resulted in fans being forced to wait in hours-long online queues, charging prices that customers deemed excessive, and facing accusations of poor service.

The incident resulted in congressional hearings and legislation introduced by US state legislatures to enhance consumer protection.

On Thursday, the Justice Department accused Live Nation of various practices that enable it to maintain a dominant position in the live music industry.

According to the department, these include using long-term contracts to prevent venues from selecting rivals, prohibiting venues from using multiple ticket sellers, and threatening venues with losing money and customers if they did not choose Ticketmaster.

The Justice Department also accused Live Nation of threatening to retaliate against one firm if it did not prevent a subsidiary from competing for artist promotion contracts.

During a news conference on Thursday morning, US Attorney General Merrick Garland stated that the Justice Department filed this lawsuit on behalf of fans who should be able to attend concerts without a monopoly impeding their access.

Garland stated, “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 monopolist.”

We have initiated this litigation for the independent promoters and venues entitled to compete equally.

Live Nation refutes the allegations.

Live Nation has refuted allegations that it violates antitrust laws.

The concert promoter stated that Ticketmaster’s substantial market share results from “the substantial disparity between the quality of the Ticketmaster system and the next best primary ticketing system” when it was disclosed that the company was under federal investigation in 2022.

Live Nation described the lawsuit as a potential “PR victory for the [Justice Department] in the short term,” but the entertainment company is confident it will prevail in court.

The lawsuit will not resolve the concerns that fans have regarding ticket prices, service fees, and access to in-demand shows,” noting that “there is more competition than ever in the live events market.

The lawsuit filed on Thursday is the result of an aggressive strategy by the United States antitrust enforcers, who are working to increase competition in a diverse array of industries, including healthcare, consumables, and Big Tech.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Apple in March, asserting that the tech behemoth has monopoly power in the smartphone market.

US legislators warmly received the Justice Department’s announcement on Thursday. Senator Amy Klobuchar said the government was “doing the right thing” by suing Live Nation.

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In a social media post, Klobuchar, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, antitrust, and Consumer Rights, stated that it is long overdue to dissolve Live Nation/Ticketmaster.

A stranglehold on competition, subpar service, and hidden fees are all detrimental to fans. The Senate Judiciary hearing established the context. We must now complete this task.

Ticketmaster is the world’s largest ticket seller, processing 500 million tickets annually in over 30 countries. According to data from a federal lawsuit filed by consumers in 2022, approximately 70% of tickets for prominent concert venues in the United States are sold through Ticketmaster.

The Justice Department reports that the organization holds or administers over 265 concert venues in North America and dozens of premier amphitheatres.

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