U.S. Justice Department Sues Live Nation and Ticketmaster Parent Company Over Alleged Monopoly

May 23, 2024
U.S. Justice Department Sues Live Nation and Ticketmaster Parent Company Over Alleged Monopoly

US Capitol Building” by ttarasiuk is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Today, May 23, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment, alleging that its parent company, Ticketmaster, violated consumer rights and antitrust laws. The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of N.Y. and backed by attorney generals spanning 29 states and Washington, D.C., citing that Live Nation engaged in harmful practices that affected artists, venues, fans, and start-ups attempting to break into the industry. 

“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,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said via a news release. “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. It is time to break up Live Nation.”

Accusations against Live Nation included its work with the venue management firm Oak View Group to push clients to sign exclusive contracts with Ticketmaster. Complaints continued, including Live Nation’s threats of retaliation toward upstart groups deemed competition, the extension of long-term “exclusionary” deals with venues, preventing the hire of management companies, and the use of multiple ticketing platforms. 

Concerns were also raised about Ticketmaster’s intent to become the default platform for ticket sales, given Live Nation’s control over a sizable number of venues, causing a monopoly on the market. Notably, talks and legal action resulted from rising tension between fans and the ticketing company after mishandling related to Taylor Swift’s 2022 Eras Tour and subsequent Senate hearings.

Today’s lawsuit follows a series of antitrust efforts sparked under President Joe Biden’s administration, which has made ending alleged monopolies in the entertainment industry a fundamental feature of its leadership. In July 2021, Biden signed an executive order that promoted competition. In the past year, bills were introduced to address the ticket issue, including The House’s latest decision to pass the TICKET Act, which requires sellers to disclose the costs and fees associated with ticket listings. 

Since merging in 2010, Ticketmaster and Live Nation have controlled an estimated 70% of the live event market and ticket sales, despite the company’s best efforts to dispute the claim. Live Nation responded to the Justice Department’s current allegations, calling them “baseless” and adding, “The DOJ’s lawsuit won’t solve the issues fans care about relating to ticket prices, service fees, and access to in-demand shows.” It continued, “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, such as the fact that the bulk of service fees go to venues, and that competition has steadily eroded Ticketmaster’s market share and profit margin.”

For more information, read U.S. House of Representatives Passes TICKET Act, Furthering Consumer Protections for Live Events.