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US sues to dismantle Ticketmaster-owner over alleged monopoly

US files major antitrust lawsuit against Ticketmaster owner Live Nation
Source: Nicepng

The US Department of Justice filed a major antitrust lawsuit Thursday seeking to break up the alleged monopoly held by Live Nation Entertainment and its Ticketmaster subsidiary in the live music industry.

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in New York, alleges that Live Nation has abused its dominant market position to raise ticket fees, squeeze out competitors and limit choices for fans, venues and artists.

“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.

“It is time to break up Live Nation.”

Ticketmaster’s pricing practices for concerts and sports events, with high fees and lack of alternatives, have long been a political issue in the United States, with little done historically to open up the market to more competition.

The latest controversy over Ticketmaster’s dominance came when tickets for Taylor Swift’s Eras tour went on pre-sale in November 2022.

Widespread outages and exorbitant fees caused an uproar, with lawmakers in Washington holding hearings to question Live Nation-Ticketmaster executives over the debacle.

The move by US officials against Live Nation also came as the Biden administration, according to polls, is seen by voters as failing to do enough to curb inflation.

High prices have become a key issue in battleground states ahead of the 2024 election that pits Biden against former president Donald Trump.

In a statement, Live Nation said the 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,” it added.

Live Nation, which merged with Ticketmaster in 2010, has grown into a $22 billion global giant that produces over 30,000 concerts annually for nearly 500 touring artists across its network of over 265 venues in North America.

The company has fought back against allegations it harms the ticketing industry, saying it brought innovation and lower prices because of its national reach.

But the DOJ counters that US fans still pay higher fees with “outdated technology” compared to other countries.

The lawsuit detailed allegations of unlawful tactics by Live Nation to maintain its dominance, including “threatening and retaliating against venues” by signaling they could lose concerts and revenue if they work with rivals.

The 68-page suit paints Live Nation-Ticketmaster as operating a “self-reinforcing business model” that allows it to capture revenue from ticket sales and then use that revenue to lock up artists to exclusive promotion deals.

It then leverages its access to top performers to sign venues into long-term exclusive ticketing deals.

Fights against Ticketmaster’s power go back to the 1990s, when the rock band Pearl Jam refused to perform at Ticketmaster venues in protest of its service charges that increased ticket prices.

Ticketmaster was accused of organizing a boycott of Pearl Jam’s tour, and the band eventually gave up its campaign against the ticketing giant.

 

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AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.







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