DOJ to Call for Breakup of Live Nation and Ticketmaster

Entertainment

The Department of Justice will call for the breakup of Live Nation and Ticketmaster in an antitrust lawsuit set to be filed on Thursday, according to Bloomberg News and the New York Times.

The lawsuit is expected to claim that Live Nation has taken abusive steps to squash competition in the live event ticketing space.

The DOJ first launched its antitrust investigation into Live Nation in early 2022, reportedly focusing on whether the company has honored a consent decree it made with the Justice Department upon its merger with Ticketmaster in 2010, in which Live Nation promised not to punish concert venues who used competing ticket platforms by withholding access to Live Nation-promoted tours. The Justice Department previously found evidence of Live Nation engaging in such behavior after launching an investigation in 2018. Under terms of a subsequent settlement in 2019, Live Nation agreed to extend the consent decree to 2025 and reimbursed the Justice Department for the costs of its investigation.

As part of its latest investigation, the DOJ has reportedly looked into Live Nation’s dynamic pricing and resale policies, its deals with venues to only use Ticketmaster, and its exclusive contracts with touring artists and venue management, among other issues. Ticketmaster currently holds more between 70% and 80% of the market for primary ticket sales in the US.

Such tactics helped Live Nation “maintain a monopoly, raising prices and fees for consumers and limiting innovation in the ticket industry,” the Department of Justice plans to argue, sources familiar with the lawsuit told the New York Times.

In a previous statement responding to reports of a possible lawsuit, a Live Nation/Ticketmaster representative said, “Ticketmaster has more competition today than it has ever had, and the deal terms with venues show it has nothing close to monopoly power.” Live Nation has long argued that artists are the ones who set ticket prices, while claiming a majority of service fees go to venues. The business is “widely misunderstood” and “ticketing is an easy target,” Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said in 2023 interview on The Bob Lefsetz Podcast.

Last week, the US House of Representatives also took steps to reform the ticket industry by passing the TICKET Act. The bi-partisan legislation, which still needs to be voted on by the US Senate and signed by President Joe Biden before becoming law, would enact a series of polices increasing transparency in the ticket industry, including requiring all ticket retailers — both primary and secondary sellers — to show the “all-in” price of a ticket (including an itemized list of all fees) prior to checkout. The legislation would also deter speculative ticketing by barring resellers from selling tickets unless they actually have them in hand.

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