"Time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster": DOJ files antitrust suit against ticket giant

Updated: Surviving outrage over ticketing fiascos and a crackdown on junk fees, this could be the biggest blow yet

Published May 22, 2024 10:17PM (EDT)
Updated May 23, 2024 2:34PM (EDT)
The Ticketmaster logo is seen in this photo illustration on 04 December, 2023 in Warsaw, Poland.  (Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
The Ticketmaster logo is seen in this photo illustration on 04 December, 2023 in Warsaw, Poland. (Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Live Nation, the group behind Ticketmaster and countless controversies surrounding ticket fiascos, is facing a Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced in a Thursday press conference.

"We allege ... [that] Live Nation relies on unlawful, anticompetitive conduct to exercise its monopolistic control over the live events industry," 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-Ticketmaster."

The company, which has allegedly engaged in price-gouging, tactics to push venues into exclusivity contracts, and other anti-competitive practices, has been the target of calls for regulation for years, coming to a head following the online sale for tickets to Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour.”

Congressional condemnation and a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yielded few policy changes, but the DOJ probe could prove the most decisive blow to the events giant yet, which owns and operates venues, sells tickets, and promotes live events. 

Live Nation saw 23 million attendees and made nearly $4 billion dollars in revenue in the first quarter of 2024, a record high for the company. Federal oversight could change the structure of the California-based company, threatening their near-total grip on major sporting and music events in the U.S.

"Live Nation-Ticketmaster locks out competition ticketing through the use of long-term exclusive ticketing contracts with venues that can last over a decade," Garland said, adding that the company also maintains control by "acquiring venues themselves with exclusive agreements that cover more than 70% of concert ticket sales at major concert venues across the country."

The Biden Administration, which announced a crackdown on “junk fees” in 2023, requiring companies like Live Nation’s Ticketmaster to disclose full prices up front, has taken broad actions to rein in monopolistic companies from taking advantage of consumers.

Antitrust suits against Apple and Google, as well action against major mergers between Spirit and Frontier airlines and Kroger and Albertsons, have positioned the administration as one ready to take on mega-corporations, but Live Nation will likely put up a fight.

Per Politico, Live Nation executives and lawyers met earlier this month with DOJ antitrust officials to try and dissuade their efforts to break up the company.

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