June 18, 2024

The lawsuit is the culmination of a two-year investigation into the company, following public scrutiny that first began in 2022 in response to the company’s handling of ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour.”

The Biden Administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Thursday that it will be filing a massive antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment and its subsidiary TicketMaster, with the aim of breaking up the company due to an alleged monopoly over the ticket-selling industry.

According to ABC News, the lawsuit will be filed in the Southern District of New York by the DOJ and 30 state district attorneys. The suit alleges that Live Nation and TicketMaster have an unfair advantage over competitors in the ticket sales industry, and have taken advantage of this domination by jacking up prices while also keeping customer service quality low.

“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,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland in a statement. “It is time to break up Live Nation.”

“For too long, Live Nation and Ticketmaster have unfairly and illegally run the world of live events, abusing their dominance to overcharge fans, bully venues, and limit artists,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James (D-N.Y.) in her own statement. “When companies like Live Nation control every aspect of an event, it leads to bad blood — concertgoers and sports fans suffer and are forced to pay more. Everybody agrees, Live Nation and Ticketmaster are the problem and it’s time for a new era. Today, we are taking this important action to protect consumers and force big companies to stop abusing their influence and get in formation.”

The lawsuit is the culmination of a two-year investigation into the company, following public scrutiny that first began in 2022 in response to the company’s handling of ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour.” On the first day of sales, the website crashed due to high demand, thus leading to fans either seeking tickets elsewhere or being unable to buy tickets altogether.

The DOJ’s lawsuit alleges that the company has successfully shut out competition through the use of a “flywheel” system, which the suit describes as “a self-reinforcing business model that captures fees and revenue from concert fans and sponsorship, uses that revenue to lock up artists to exclusive promotion deals, and then uses its powerful cache of live content to sign venues into long-term exclusive ticketing deals, thereby starting the cycle all over again.”

After the announcement of the lawsuit, Live Nation issued a statement declaring that it is “absurd to claim that Live Nation and Ticketmaster are wielding monopoly power.”

Instead, the company “blames concert promoters and ticketing companies — neither of which control ticket prices — for high ticket prices.”

“It ignores everything that is actually responsible for higher ticket prices, from increasing production costs to artist popularity, to 24/7 online ticket scalping that reveals the public’s willingness to pay far more than primary tickets cost,” said Dan Wall, executive vice president at Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. “It blames Live Nation and Ticketmaster for high service charges, but ignores that Ticketmaster retains only a modest portion of those fees. In fact, primary ticketing is one of the least expensive digital distributions in the economy.”

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