music / News

Ticketmaster Owner Live Nation Hit With Antitrust Lawsuit

May 23, 2024 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Ticketmaster Image Credit: Live Nation Entertainment

Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation has been accused of violating antitrust laws in a lawsuit from the Department of Justice. As The New York Times reports, the DOJ filed an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment on Thursday, asking a court to break the company up due to claims that it has maintained an illegal monopoly on the entertainment industry.

The lawsuit was joined by joined by 29 states and the District of Columbia and accuses Live Nation of anticompetitive practices to maintain its hold on the ticketing industry such as exclusive ticketing contracts, pressuring artists to use its services and threatening its rivals with financial retribution. The suit argues that this has resulted in higher ticket prices and hurt innovation and competition. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the suit asks the court to order “the divestiture of, at minimum, Ticketmaster” as well as forbidding Live Nation from engaging in anticompetitive practices.

Live Nation, via Ticketmaster, has been a giant of the industry and controls around 60% of concert promotions in the US, and about 80% of primary ticketing at major venues. It has long been accused of practices that hurt rivals and drove up prices for consumers, but it was the Taylor Swift presale fiasco from November of 2022 that amped up the pressure. The pre-sale led to Tickmaster’s website crashing and millions of people unable to buy tickets, shining a light on the corporation and leading to a congressional hearing last year.

The case comes 14 years after the government approved Live Nation’s merger with Ticketmaster, with conditions designed to keep the company from abusing its position. Those restrictions were extended into 2025 after the DOJ accused Live Nation of repeatedly violating the decree. Lawmakers from both sides of the partisan divide have criticized the company as having a monopoly.

The lawsuit accuses Live Nation of having “its tentacles in virtually every aspect of the live entertainment industry” and takes aim at their habit of add-on fees, calling them “essentially a ‘Ticketmaster Tax’ that ultimately raise the price fans pay.”

Live Nation has responded through a statement by EVP Dan Wall, who says that the suit is due to “intense political pressure” and “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.” Live Nation also says it’s market share for ticketing has decreased in the past several years in competition with rivals.

US District Attorney Merrick Garland suit says that the government will present evides taken from emails sent between Live Nation’s Michael Rapino and Oak View Group’s Tim Leiweke among other communications to help prove its case.