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DOJ Sues Live Nation and Ticketmaster to Reduce Ticket Prices


The Justice Department on Thursday sued Live Nation Entertainment, the concert giant that owns Ticketmaster, asking a court to break up the company over claims it illegally maintained a monopoly in the live entertainment industry.



The lawsuit seeks to lower prices for fans and open venue doors to more musicians.


Live Nation, which generates $22 billion a year in revenue, owns or controls more than 265 concert venues in North America, including 60 of the top 100 amphitheaters, such as the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, according to the department. The company bills itself as “the largest live entertainment company in the world.”


Attorney General Merrick Garland said that dominance allowed the company to exert control over the live-events industry in a way that hurt fans, performers, smaller promoters and venue operators. The company uses outdated technology that deprives fans of ticketing information, according to the federal lawsuit filed in New York.


The department refers to the company’s fees as “essentially a ‘Ticketmaster Tax’ that ultimately raise the price fans pay.”


“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,” Garland said in a statement. “It is time to break up Live Nation.”


The lawsuit doesn’t specify how the company should be broken up or how much more fans paid for tickets collectively because of the alleged monopolistic behavior.


Attorneys general from both parties joined the lawsuit, including Democrats in California and New York and Republicans in Texas and Oklahoma.



The lawsuit alleged the company’s “flywheel” strategy captures fees and revenue from concert fans and sponsorships, pours the revenue into signing artists to exclusive promotion deals and wields the cache of artists to sign venues into exclusive, long-term ticketing deals.


The fees Ticketmaster charges for concerts can be staggering. For example, a 2022 Red Hot Chili Peppers show at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. had per-ticket fees of $25.75, plus $3.49 for processing, meaning one concert-goer would pay $29.24, an additional 36% of the original $81.50 ticket cost.


The lawsuit is much broader than the one that led to the Justice Department reaching a consent decree in 2010 that allowed Live Nation to merger with Ticketmaster, according to department officials. The lawsuit alleges monopolization in all aspects of the business, including promotion of events, access to venues and ticket sales.


Live Nation and Ticketmaster issued a statement the bulk of ticket fees go to venues and competition has eroded Ticketmaster’s market share. The companies said a 1.4% annual profit reflects to “opposite of monopoly power.”


“The DOJ’s lawsuit won’t solve the issues fans care about relating to ticket prices, service fees, and access to in-demand shows,” the statement said. “We will defend against these baseless allegations, use this opportunity to shed light on the industry, and continue to push for reforms that truly protect consumers and artists.”

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