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Justice Department Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Live Nation-Ticketmaster

-Editorial

The Justice Department, alongside 30 state and district attorneys general, filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Ticketmaster LLC, for monopolization and other unlawful conduct that hindered competition in the live entertainment industry. The lawsuit aimed to restore competition in the live concert industry, offer better choices at lower prices for fans, and open venue doors for working musicians and other performance artists.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the complaint alleged that Live Nation-Ticketmaster unlawfully exercised monopoly power in violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act. According to the lawsuit, music fans in the United States were deprived of ticketing innovation and forced to use outdated technology while paying higher prices for tickets compared to fans in other countries. Additionally, Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s actions negatively impacted performers, venues, and independent promoters, stifling competition and creating barriers for rival companies.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland stated, “We alleged that Live Nation relied 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. The result is that fans paid more in fees, artists had fewer opportunities to play concerts, smaller promoters got squeezed out, and venues had fewer real choices for ticketing services. It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster.”

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco emphasized the Justice Department’s commitment to combating corporate misconduct, highlighting that anticompetitive conduct disadvantaged consumers, workers, and businesses. “Today’s complaint alleged that Live Nation-Ticketmaster engaged in anticompetitive conduct to cement their dominance of the live concert market and act as the gatekeeper for an entire industry,” she said.

Acting Associate Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer reiterated the Department’s commitment to competition throughout the economy, including in live music. “As our complaint alleged, Live Nation-Ticketmaster monopolized the markets for concerts and other live events at the expense of fans, venues, and artists across the country. The Department is proud to bring this case to restore competition to this industry,” he stated.

Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division described the live music industry in America as broken due to Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s illegal monopoly. “Our antitrust lawsuit seeks to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s monopoly and restore competition for the benefit of fans and artists,” he added.

The complaint detailed Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s exclusionary practices that maintained their monopolies in concert promotions and primary ticketing markets. The company’s “flywheel” business model captured fees and revenue from concert fans and sponsorships, used that revenue to secure exclusive promotion deals with artists, and signed venues into long-term exclusive ticketing deals, perpetuating the cycle. This conduct created further barriers for rivals to compete.

Specific allegations included exploiting its relationship with Oak View Group to avoid competition, retaliating against potential entrants and venues working with rivals, locking venues into exclusive contracts, and acquiring competitors to eliminate threats. Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s dominance restricted artists’ access to key venues and hindered the entry of new promotions and ticketing competitors.

Live Nation Entertainment Inc., headquartered in Beverly Hills, California, described itself as the “largest live entertainment company in the world.” It owned or controlled over 265 concert venues in North America and generated over $22 billion globally in annual revenue. Ticketmaster LLC, also headquartered in Beverly Hills, was the largest concert ticketing company in the United States, significantly larger than its closest competitor.

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