"It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster": US Department Of Justice goes to court over alleged anticompetitive conduct

Live Nation and Ticketmaster logos
(Image credit: Live Nation / Ticketmaster)

The US Department Of Justice has filed a lawsuit against live entertainment giant Live Nation, accusing it of anticompetitive conduct. 

“It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster," says US Attorney General Merrick Garland. "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."

According to the lawsuit, Live Nation and Ticketmaster – who merged in 2010 in the face of opposition from some regulators, musicians, fans groups and competing companies – now controls "80% or more" of primary ticketing for major concerts, as well as a growing share of the resale market. It also owns or controls more than 300 of North America's concert venues and amphitheatres. 

"Live Nation and its wholly owned subsidiary, Ticketmaster, have used that power and influence to insert themselves at the centre and the edges of virtually every aspect of the live music ecosystem," says the lawsuit. "This has given Live Nation and Ticketmaster the opportunity to freeze innovation and bend the industry to their own benefit. While this may be a boon to Live Nation’s bottom line, there is a real cost to Americans. 

“Live Nation’s anticompetitive conduct has not only harmed fans in the form of more and higher fees, but also undermines innovation. Competition increases the array and quality of services available and makes it easier for fans to find and see artists they love. Unburdened by competition on the merits, Ticketmaster does not need to invest as much to improve the fan experience."

Live Nation has issued a lengthy response to the suit, claiming that the US Government has failed to address the issues at the root of fans' frustration, and accusing it of playing politics. 

"We have been very clear in the halls of Congress and at the DOJ that we favour genuine reforms that would actually help fans get tickets at the price the artist has set for them to pay," say the company. "Fans want to see the bands and sports teams they love, and it infuriates them that tickets sell out on Ticketmaster and are then available by the hundreds on secondary online sites at double and triple the cost.  

"But the Government has chosen to do nothing about this. Instead, it has filed a case which misleads the public into thinking that ticket prices will be lower if something is done about Live Nation and Ticketmaster.  DOJ is not helping consumers with their actual problems. This is why the government has never been less popular – because they pretend they are fixing your problems when instead they are pandering to a narrow set of political interests."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.