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Department of Justice Accuses Live Nation of Operating Ticket Sales Monopoly

'This lawsuit distracts from real solutions that would decrease prices and protect fans,' the company said in response

Department of Justice Accuses Live Nation of Operating Ticket Sales Monopoly

The United States Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Live Nation, alleging the company’s practices have harmed the live music industry.

According to the complaint, Live Nation directly manages over 400 musical artists and controls 60 percent of concert promotions at major concert venues in America. Additionally, Live Nation owns Ticketmaster, which oversees ticketing for at least 80 percent of major concert venues.

“The live music industry, like other heavily concentrated industries, is largely controlled by a well-known group of insiders who lead multiple interconnected companies with numerous conflicts of interest,” stated the DOJ. “These insiders have spent decades amassing, fortifying, and exercising power, particularly against anyone who seeks to disrupt the now-standard industry business practices and conduct.”

The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York with the support of 30 state and district attorneys. The complainants regard Live Nation as a monopoly that must be broken up.

Since day one of this administration, we have prioritized holding the most serious corporate wrongdoers accountable — from bribe payers to money launderers to price fixers,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said during a press conference on May 23. “Our fight against corporate wrongdoing includes an intense focus on anticompetitive conduct — which disadvantages consumers, workers, and businesses of all kinds.”

“With its exclusionary conduct, Live Nation effectively reaches into the pockets of concertgoers by driving up fees,” Monaco continued. “Over the years, Live Nation has intentionally blocked others out of the market — limiting where shows can take place, who can sell tickets, and who benefits from them.”

Live Nation has denied the DOJ’s allegations. The company said the lawsuit was filed as a result of “intense political pressure” and “a long-term lobbying campaign from rivals trying to limit competition and ticket brokers seeking government protection for their business model.”

“This lawsuit against Live Nation and Ticketmaster won’t reduce ticket prices or service fees,” said the company in a statement. “This lawsuit distracts from real solutions that would decrease prices and protect fans – like letting artists cap resale prices.”

Live Nation said:

It is also absurd to claim that Live Nation and Ticketmaster wield monopoly power.  The defining feature of a monopolist is monopoly profits derived from monopoly pricing.  Live Nation in no way fits the profile.  Service charges on Ticketmaster are no higher than on SeatGeek, AXS, or other primary ticketing sites, and are frequently lower.  In fact, when Ticketmaster loses a venue to SeatGeek, service charges usually go up substantially.  And even accounting for sponsorship, an advertising business that helps keep ticket prices down, Live Nation’s overall net profit margin is at the low end of profitable S&P 500 companies.

Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in 2010 with the approval of the DOJ. The companies had to enter into a consent decree and Live Nation was banned from retaliating against venues that did not use Ticketmaster. In 2019, the DOJ concluded after an investigation that Live Nation had violated the decree. Live Nation then settled with the government.

In 2022, the DOJ opened another investigation into Live Nation.

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