DOJ to Sue Ticketmaster/Live Nation for Ticket Monopoly

The Justice Department is preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit in federal court against Live Nation, the parent company of Ticketmaster, according to multiple reports. At issue is Live Nation’s alleged monopoly over live entertainment in the US and the exorbitant fees Ticketmaster is able to get away with as a result.

Taylor Swift was furious at Ticketmaster in 2022 for bungling the sale of her tickets to her fans. (Image: Newsweek)

Live Nation Entertainment consists of Live Nation, the events promoter and venue operator, and Ticketmaster, which sells tickets. The two companies merged in 2010, despite concerts about a potential monopoly, and now control an estimated 70% of the U.S. live entertainment and ticketing markets.

A Swift Response

The precipitating incident was pop superstar Taylor Swift’s “The Eras” tour, for which Ticketmaster canceled a public on-sale date in November 2022 because it screwed up and sold all 2.4 million tickets during its pre-sale.

It was the first time in the California-based ticket distributor’s 47-year history that it has canceled a previously announced on-sale because of lack of inventory.

“It’s really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties, and excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse,” Swift wrote in an Instagram post at the time. “There are a multitude of reasons why people had such a hard time trying to get tickets, and I’m trying to figure out how this situation can be improved moving forward.”

The DOJ opened its probe of Live Nation shortly following the fiasco, The New York Times reported.

US Senator Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, wrote a letter to Ticketmaster calling it “the definition of monopoly.”

Ticketmaster’s Defense

Live Nation’s head of Corporate Affairs, Dan Wall, defends his company’s policies, claiming in a blog post earlier this year that ticket prices are determined by artists and their teams, while additional service charges are determined by the venues themselves.

“Fans are also told that service charges are Ticketmaster’s way of raising ticket prices,” he wrote.  “In fact, Ticketmaster does not set service charges, venues do, and most of the money goes to the venues.”

A Taylor Swift fan filed her own class action suit against Live Nation in December 2022 over the debacle, alleging fraud, price-fixing, and antitrust violations. The lawsuit, joined by thousands of fans, claimed that Ticketmaster was “a monopoly” that “knowingly misled millions of fans.”

However, a year later, the fan, Michelle Sterloff, dropped her case. Although she never stated why, it was reported shortly beforehand that both sides were engaged in “ongoing settlement discussions.”

The DOJ’s lawsuit could be filed as early as next month.

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