U.S. Government Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Live Nation Entertainment

By Stu Kelly / May 23, 2024

In a landmark legal move, the U.S. government has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment, the parent company of Ticketmaster. The lawsuit seeks to dismantle the entertainment behemoth over allegations of monopolistic practices and abuse of power in the ticketing and concert industries. The case, backed by 30 state and district attorneys general, aims to rectify what officials describe as a long-standing issue of reduced consumer choice and inflated prices for concertgoers.

The lawsuit alleges that Live Nation, which has grown into an unparalleled force in the entertainment sector, has leveraged its vast network to stifle competition. This dominance, the government contends, has resulted in fewer options and higher costs for consumers. The company, known for its extensive reach as a concert promoter, artist manager, venue owner, and ticket seller, has often been criticized for its monopolistic tendencies.

“We allege that 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 in a statement. “It is time to break up Live Nation.”

The lawsuit’s timing follows significant public outrage, most notably in 2022, when excessive fees and site outages marred the early sales of Taylor Swift’s “Eras” tour. These issues brought widespread attention to the challenges and frustrations faced by artists and fans, exacerbating calls for regulatory action.

Live Nation’s empire is vast. The company produced over 50,000 concerts and musical events in the previous year, selling more than 620 million tickets globally. It boasts ownership or control over 265 concert venues in North America, including 60 of the top 100 amphitheaters in the United States. According to the lawsuit, this extensive control has allowed Live Nation to edge out competitors and dominate the market unfairly.

The government claims that Live Nation’s practices have created an environment where performance venues are coerced into using Ticketmaster services. Those who resist face the threat of losing access to popular tours and performances, a scenario that has helped Ticketmaster secure more than 70 percent of sales at major concert venues. Furthermore, the complaint highlights that artists are often pressured to use Live Nation’s promotional services to gain access to its venues, restricting their choices and inflating costs.

State and federal antitrust officials argue that these monopolistic practices have hindered the growth of competing ticketing services and imposed high, mandatory fees on consumers. To combat these issues, the government has asked a federal judge in New York to implement structural changes to Live Nation, potentially leading to the breakup of the conglomerate.

This lawsuit marks a significant turn in the regulatory approach to Live Nation. It revisits the company’s 2010 merger with Ticketmaster, which was initially approved by the Justice Department. The legal battle ahead is expected to be arduous and lengthy as the Justice Department makes its case for unwinding a merger it sanctioned over a decade ago.

The outcome of this case could dramatically reshape the live entertainment landscape, potentially restoring competition and lowering costs for fans and artists alike.

About the author

Stu Kelly