Live Nation sued by DOJ over alleged Ticketmaster ‘monopoly’

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking to break up Live Nation, alleging that Ticketmaster’s parent company harmed consumers and violated antitrust laws by exerting outsized control over the live events industry.

The complaint, filed in the Southern District of New York and supported by attorneys general from 29 states plus Washington, D.C., alleges that Live Nation engaged in practices that harm the entire live entertainment industry – from artists and fans to venues and startups looking to break into the business.

Live Nation directly manages more than 400 music artists, controls approximately 60% of concert promotions at major venues, and, through Ticketmaster, controls approximately 80% or more of major concert venue ticketing, as well as a growing share of the market resale.

“Live Nation relies on illegal and anti-competitive behavior to exert its monopolistic control over the live events industry in the United States, to the detriment of fans, artists, small promoters and venue operators,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland in a press release. “The result is that fans pay more in entry fees, artists have fewer opportunities to play concerts, smaller promoters are squeezed out, and venues have fewer real choices in ticketing services. It’s time to break up Live Nation.

Among the accusations against Live Nation:

  • That he worked with a venue management company called Oak View Group to get customers to sign exclusive deals to use Ticketmaster. Co-founded by Irving Azoff, an influential entertainment executive and former chairman of Live Nation, Oak View oversees dozens of arenas around the world. A representative for Oak View did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
  • That he sought to stifle competition in the concert promotion industry by threatening retaliation and acquired new bands he viewed as threats.
  • Let him sign long-term “exclusion” agreements with venues that prevent them from turning to alternative management companies and using multiple ticketing platforms.
  • This Ticketmaster is becoming the default ticketing platform for many artists, as Live Nation controls a large portion of the venues where they seek to play.

In a statement, Live Nation said the Justice Department’s allegations were “baseless” and that its actions would prove counterproductive.

“The DOJ lawsuit will not resolve the issues fans are concerned about regarding ticket prices, service fees and access to high-demand shows,” he said. “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 fundamental economics of live entertainment, such as the fact that the bulk of fees of service goes to theaters, and that competition has gradually eroded Ticketmaster’s market share and profit margin.

The company also disputed its dominant role, saying Ticketmaster’s market share had been in decline for more than a decade.

And he said the suit ignores key factors that have made fans’ experience of live entertainment and ticket purchases worse, like rising production costs, rising popularity of artists and scalping online tickets 24/7.

“Live Nation can and has offered fans, artists, venues and the rest of the entertainment ecosystem better prices and better services than they would receive if these complementary activities were separated,” he said. he declares. “Ticketmaster in particular is a much better, more artist- and fan-focused company under Live Nation ownership than it ever was as a standalone company. But that’s not how the DOJ sees it.”

Ticketmaster has been facing complaints from fans and artists for years, but anger came to a head in 2022 following a botched rollout of tickets for Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour.” The Senate Judiciary Committee then held a hearing on the company’s role in the ticketing industry.

The lawsuit filed Thursday joins a handful of other major antitrust efforts launched under President Joe Biden, who has made rooting out alleged monopolies a cornerstone of his presidency. In July 2021, he signed a decree aimed at promoting competition. Among the most significant steps taken by the Biden administration, the DOJ filed a lawsuit in March accusing Apple of exercising monopoly power in the smartphone market, which the tech giant has denied.

Biden said that while he is a “proud capitalist,” “capitalism without competition is not capitalism, it is exploitation.”

Several bills have been introduced over the past year to address issues affecting ticket buyers. The House passed the Key Event Ticketing Price Transparency Act (TICKET) last week, which would require sellers disclose all costs and fees in advance when they put tickets on sale.

Live Nation supported the move and said it supports ticketing reforms such as anti-bot legislation and banning speculative tickets, or the sale of tickets that are not currently in the seller’s possession.

“The bipartisan support for these reforms shows that protecting fans and artists is in everyone’s best interest,” the company said in a statement. “We look forward to working with policymakers to make these changes into law.” »

Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., who introduced the BOSS and SWIFT Acts last year in an effort to combat deceptive ticketing practices, called the lawsuit “one of the most supportive measures to fans of our federal government for many years.” He added that Live Nation and Ticketmaster should not have been allowed to merge.

“This news is a victory for the millions of American fans who have been exploited, deceived, scammed and outright robbed by this corrupt and greedy entity,” Pascrell said in a statement.

Recently, more than 250 artists signed a letter in support of the Fans First Act, introduced in the Senate in December. The bill aims to improve price transparency and consumer protection, as well as prevent bad actors from charging exorbitant prices. It would also strengthen the Better Online Ticket Sales Act, passed in 2016, which prohibits resellers from using software to buy tickets in bulk, further banning the use of bots in ticket sales.

Dan Wall, Live Nation’s executive vice president for corporate and regulatory affairs, responded to complaints about ticket sales and prices in an article published on Live Nation’s website in March.

Ticketmaster is seen as “a massive ticket retailer that buys large quantities of tickets and posts them for sale at prices determined by Ticketmaster,” Wall wrote. But in reality, he says, ticket prices are set by artists and sports teams.

Consumer advocacy groups welcomed reports earlier this year that the Justice Department was considering taking Live Nation to court.

A lawsuit against the company would show “the seriousness of this situation and the need for action to protect fans,” Mark Meador, president of the Fan Fairness Coalition and a Republican antitrust expert, said in a statement in April.

“This will be a critical step in holding Ticketmaster and Live Nation accountable for monopolistic and anti-competitive business practices that have eroded free competition in the live event ticketing industry and harmed millions of fans,” he said. he declares.

In a statement, a group representing independent venues welcomed the Justice Department’s actions.

“We hope that today’s complaint ultimately produces a meaningful outcome that benefits fans, artists, independent venues and festivals, and the businesses around us across the country,” said Stephen Parker, Executive Director of the National Independent Venue Association. .

Ticketmaster argued that artists and their teams set the terms of ticket distribution. In a web page called Ticketing Truths, Ticketmaster claims that players are responsible for pricing tickets at face value. And in collaboration with managers, agents and promoters, artists also decide which venues to play in, when to put tickets on sale and how to sell them, it is specified.

As for service fees – a frequent target of criticism among fans – the company says they are set by the sites, who also keep most of the revenue from the fees. “A portion” of the fee revenue goes to the ticketing company and is used to pay credit card fees.

Gn entert
News Source : www.nbcnews.com


With a penchant for words, Eleon Smith began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, Smith landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, Eleon also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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