DOJ FILES ANTITRUST LAWSUIT AGAINST LIVE NATION

The U.S. Department of Justice and 29 states have filed an antitrust lawsuit today (5/23) against Live Nation Entertainment, focused on the concert giant's concurrent ownership of Ticketmaster, with which it merged in 2010.

"Live Nation relies on unlawful, anticompetitive conduct to exercise its monopolistic control over the live events industry in the United States at the cost of fans, artists, smaller promoters, and venue operators,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said. “The result is that fans pay more in fees, artists have fewer opportunities to play concerts, smaller promoters get squeezed out, and venues have fewer real choices for ticketing services. It is time to break up Live Nation.”

In a statement, Live Nation said, "The DOJ’s lawsuit won’t solve the issues fans care about relating to ticket prices, service fees, and access to in-demand shows. Calling Ticketmaster a monopoly may be a PR win for the DOJ in the short term, but it will lose in court because it ignores the basic economics of live entertainment, such as the fact that the bulk of service fees go to venues, and that competition has steadily eroded Ticketmaster’s market share and profit margin."

"Live Nation can offer and has offered fans, artists, venues and the rest of the performance ecosystem better prices and better services than they would receive if these complementary businesses were separated," the statement continued. "Ticketmaster in particular is a far better, more artist- and fan-focused business under Live Nation’s ownership than it ever was as a standalone company. But that’s not how this DOJ sees it."

Partially based on complaints made by competitors, the suit scrutinizes the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger, after which the combined entity was placed under a consent decree. In 2019, DOJ Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Makan Delrahim charged Live Nation with six violations of the consent decree over a 10-year period. In response, the company agreed to pay a fine and extend the decree through 2024.

Meanwhile, Ticketmaster returned to legislative crosshairs following the 2022 crash of the presale for Taylor Swift's Eras Tour, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) crediting the incident to the company's “monopolistic” history. Ticketmaster blamed the outage on a cyber attack initiated by billions of bots, while Live Nation has long pointed out that artists, not the company itself, control ticket prices as well as how much inventory actually goes on sale to the general public.

In its statement, Live Nation said its combined annual net profits with Ticketmaster of 1.4% are "the opposite of monopoly power," and that there's more competition than ever in the marketplace, which has contributed to Ticketmaster's declining market share since the merger. It further says the suit "distracts from real solutions that would decrease prices and protect fans—like letting artists cap resale prices."

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