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US Department of Justice files antitrust lawsuit against Ticketmaster owner Live Nation

What just happened? The US Department of Justice has filed a major antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment, the parent company of booking website Ticketmaster, over accusations that it abuses its position as the dominant force in the concert ticket-selling industry.

Filed alongside 30 state and district attorneys general in federal court in the Southern District of New York, the DoJ says Live Nation Entertainment’s monopoly has harmed everyone in the live music entertainment industry, from fans and venues to bands and startups.

The suit says that Live Nation now controls roughly 80% or more of big venues’ primary ticketing for concerts.

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

Ticketmaster has faced plenty of controversy over the years. An undercover investigation by CBC News and the Toronto Star in 2018 alleged that the company partners with professional scalpers to inflate ticket prices, which in turn increases its profits.

The company was blasted in 2022 for a debacle involving Taylor Swift’s first tour since 2018. Some fans said they had to wait for up to eight hours and were repeatedly kicked off the Ticketmaster website while trying to buy tickets for the singer’s Eras tour. Swift publicly called out Ticketmaster over the fiasco, which it blamed on “extraordinarily high demands” and “insufficient” tickets. The incident resulted in a Senate committee hearing – a two-year-long investigation that led to this week’s lawsuit.

“For too long, Live Nation and Ticketmaster have unfairly and illegally run the world of live events, abusing their dominance to overcharge fans, bully venues, and limit artists,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.

The lawsuit also accuses Live Nation of locking out competitors with what it calls “flywheel,” a self-reinforcing business model that uses revenue from concert fans to lock artists into exclusive promotion deals. The company then uses its cache of live content to sign venues into long-term exclusive ticketing deals, starting the cycle all over again.

Ticketmaster’s high prices and the lack of alternative sellers have been a source of aggravation for concert goers for years.

Responding to the lawsuit, Live Nation said in a statement that it’s “absurd to claim that Live Nation and Ticketmaster are wielding monopoly power.” The company said the suit “won’t solve the issues fans care about relating to ticket prices, service fees, and access to in-demand shows.”

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