Live Nation

US Government Sues to Break Up Ticketmaster and Live Nation in Historic Monopoly Case

In a landmark antitrust lawsuit, the US government, along with numerous states, has taken legal action against Live Nation, the parent company of Ticketmaster, alleging that it has monopolized the ticketing and live events industry to the detriment of fans, artists, and competitors.

Filed on Thursday by the Justice Department and 30 state and district attorneys general, the lawsuit accuses Live Nation of abusing its dominant market position to stifle competition and inflate ticket prices. The plaintiffs seek a jury trial and are calling for the breakup of the company.

The lawsuit could potentially revolutionize the live events market, which has been under intense scrutiny since technical issues on Ticketmaster’s platform prevented millions from purchasing tickets for Taylor Swift’s “Eras” tour in 2022. Critics argue that Live Nation’s monopolistic practices have led to poor customer service, high fees, and limited ticket resale options.

Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized that the suit addresses illegal conduct, not just consumer inconvenience. “We’re here because it’s illegal,” Garland said, detailing the numerous fees Ticketmaster charges customers and highlighting the alleged monopolistic behavior of Live Nation.

The lawsuit claims that Live Nation’s strategy involved securing exclusive deals with major venues, ensuring that their events were ticketed exclusively through Ticketmaster. It also notes that Live Nation manages more than 400 artists and controls about 60% of concert promotions and over 265 concert venues in North America.

Despite the serious allegations, Live Nation has dismissed the claims as “baseless.” The company argues that the lawsuit ignores the economic realities of the live entertainment industry and insists that it does not profit excessively from its market position.

Shares of Live Nation fell 5% following the news of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit has garnered support from various stakeholders, including musicians and rival ticketing platforms like StubHub, which criticized Live Nation’s practices and welcomed the government’s intervention.

The suit marks the first major challenge to Live Nation’s market dominance since its merger with Ticketmaster in 2010. At that time, regulators allowed the merger with certain conditions, but critics have long argued that these measures failed to prevent anticompetitive behavior.

The legal action reflects a broader effort by the Biden administration to increase antitrust enforcement across various industries. The participation of multiple states and districts underscores the widespread concern over Live Nation’s influence in the live events market.

New York Attorney General Letitia James summed up the sentiment of many involved in the lawsuit, stating, “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. It’s time for a new era.”

The case now moves to the courts, where its outcome could significantly reshape the landscape of the live events industry.

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