Ticketmaster And Live Nation Are Reportedly Being Sued By The Justice Department For Creating A Touring Monopoly

The US Department of Justice is about to drop the hammer on Live Nation and Ticketmaster for their longstanding monopoly over concert promotion. According to The Wall Street Journal, the DOJ is preparing to bring an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation — which it could file as soon as next month — for using its leverage over live events ticketing through Ticketmaster to undermine competition in the space.

Live Nation acquired Ticketmaster in 2010, and since then, consumers have complained of increasing prices and fees, while at the same time, independently owned venues have gone out of business or been absorbed into Live Nation’s network. The issues came to a head with the return of live entertainment after the 2020 shutdown over COVID, with fans experiencing problems buying tickets for <Beyoncé and Taylor Swift’s return tours.

Those problems spawned Congressional hearings about Ticketmaster’s business practices, prompted Ticketmaster to revise some of its policies, and even sparked a class action lawsuit from Ticketmaster customers who felt jilted by hidden fees, website breakdowns, and vastly inflated prices. Separately, but probably relatedly (we have eyes), several musicians’ tours across genre were canceled or shortened by low ticket sales in the past year, with social media users pointing out that prices have just gotten too high to afford for most people.

Meanwhile, Live Nation’s head of corporate affairs Dan Wall has argued that artists set prices, that those prices are subject to high demand and low supply, and that the majority of the fees charged go to venues (failing to mention, of course, who owns an outsized and growing proportion of those venues).

As noted by WSJ, the federal government did not try to block the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster but did agree to a settlement in which Live Nation and Ticketmaster would incur steep fines if they were found to be retaliating against venue operators making use of competing ticketing services by doing things like blocking Live Nation artists from playing those venues. Of course, in 2019, Live Nation was found to be violating exactly those terms, forcing an extension of the settlement terms to 2025. It looks like it still wasn’t enough; now, Live Nation could find itself in an even more precarious position.