Home Featured Live Nation and Ticketmaster to face antitrust lawsuit from U.S. Department of Justice
Live Nation and Ticketmaster to face antitrust lawsuit from U.S. Department of Justice
Image Credit: Daniele via Flickr

Live Nation and Ticketmaster to face antitrust lawsuit from U.S. Department of Justice

Home Featured Live Nation and Ticketmaster to face antitrust lawsuit from U.S. Department of Justice

The United States Department of Justice is preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation (the parent company of Ticketmaster), stating that the “world’s largest live entertainment company” leveraged its dominance to cut out competition.

Live Nation and Ticketmaster have been the subject of controversy ever since the two merged in 2010. However, recently, criticism against the company skyrocketed after the events of the infamous on-sale ticket catastrophe of Taylor Swift’s ‘Eras’ Tour in November of 2022, exposing a lot of issues fans had been citing for years and ultimately causing the Justice Department to launch an investigation into Live Nation and Ticketmaster. And now, as of earlier this week, it was first reported by The Wall Street Journal that the United States Department of Justice is getting ready to file a lawsuit accusing the ticketing giant of violating antitrust laws by using its power to take advantage of its competition.

The exact date of when the lawsuit will be put into place is unclear, but the speculation is that it could come within the next few weeks or the next month. The specifics of the lawsuit are also unknown at this time. According to the Wall Street Journal, the lawsuit comes off the back of arguments against Live Nation and Ticketmaster about how their dominance and apparent monopolization within the ticket industry has harmed consumers with high ticket prices and fees as well as poor customer service.

Some believe, like Daniel McCuaig, a former trial lawyer with the DOJ’s antitrust division, that the suit could go after the initial 2010 merger deal of Live Nation and Ticketmaster and dismember it. According to the Wall Street Journal, the deal was supposed to expire in 2019 but was revised to 2025 after findings showed that Live Nation violated the terms of the agreement numerous times. The DOJ stopped them from pressuring venues into using Ticketmaster and added an anti-retaliation clause that would hit Live Nation with a $1 million penalty if it threatened to withhold shows from non-Ticketmaster venues.

Live Nation has continually argued against any accusations about their abuse of power and bullying within the industry and alleged monopolization. A spokesperson for the company told the Wall Street Journal, “Ticketmaster has more competition today than it has ever had, and the deal terms with venues show it has nothing close to monopoly power.” Ticketmaster reportedly controls 80 percent of the primary ticket sale market. Last month, Dan Wall, the head of corporate affairs for Live Nation, stated in an essay that it is artists who set ticket prices and that the fee price is to cover operational costs.

“If we’ve got a well-defined market and Ticketmaster has a 70 percent share, it seems very likely that they have market power in the way that we usually mean it in an antitrust context, and they’re going to be able to raise prices or lower quality or otherwise restrict options for consumers to worse terms than they would get in a competitive market.”

Fiona Scott, Yale School of Management professor and former chief economist at the DOJ antitrust division.

So what does this mean for ticket prices? It is unknown if this lawsuit will make an immediate impact on ticket costs. However, if the merger continues to remain as is, then there unfortunately won’t be any relief for consumers. According to Times Magazine, ticket prices have risen exponentially since the mid-1990s, as much as tripled. Fees can now range up to 78 percent of the ticket’s value, and Ticketmaster holds back as much as 90 percent of tickets for the secondary market.

For years, consumers have complained emphatically about the confusing world of ticket buying. It has been a bumpy road that has left many wanting a completely new experience. There is no certainty where we go from here with this lawsuit, but hopefully, it all leads to a better user experience for everyone.

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