Move over TikTok, The United States Department of Justice’s war against big media is unrelenting after news broke the DOJ just sued Live Nation and Ticketmaster for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act, a move that could reshape the multibillion-dollar live entertainment company. Live Nation fully owns Ticketmaster, North America’s largest ticket vendor.

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Get this: the DOJ’s complaint alleges that Live Nation-Ticketmaster monopolizes ticketing and uses this wide-reaching power to dominate the market and suppress competition. “It is time to break it up,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland during a Thursday press conference. That’s capitalism for you, but the DOJ is making its point, and this lawsuit is the real deal. 

Garland said in an official statement, “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. The result is that fans pay more in fees, artists have fewer opportunities to play concerts, smaller promoters get squeezed out, and venues have fewer real choices for ticketing services.”


Here’s where it gets current: when addressing the rationale behind the lawsuit, Garland cited the brought into the fold the public backlash from the Taylor Swift “Eras” tour ticket sales debacle: “In recent years, Live Nation and Ticketmaster’s exorbitant fees and technological failures have been criticized by fans and artists alike. We are not here today because Live Nation and Ticketmaster’s [customers] are frustrated. We are here because as we allege that conduct is anticompetitive.” I mean the tour made over a billion dollars and no one is blaming Swift or her Swifties, for the record. 

There is a 124-page complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and it asserts that Live Nation-Ticketmaster unlawfully exercises its monopoly power in violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act. 

More from the DOJ summary, “As a result of its conduct, music fans in the United States are deprived of ticketing innovation and forced to use outdated technology while paying more for tickets than fans in other countries. At the same time, Live Nation-Ticketmaster exercises its power over performers, venues, and independent promoters in ways that harm competition. Live Nation-Ticketmaster also imposes barriers to competition that limit the entry and expansion of its rivals.”

It gets even more interesting; the complaint also details how Live Nation-Ticketmaster maintains monopolies in concert promotions and primary ticketing markets and engages in exclusionary practices that affect venues. These practices reinforce a “flywheel” effect: a self-reinforcing business model capturing fees and revenue from fans and sponsors. This is then used to secure exclusive promotion deals with artists and long-term ticketing agreements with venues. This cycle, the DOJ argues, further entrenches Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s market power and creates barriers for competitors.

A Ticketmaster spokesperson claimed that the company faces “more competition today than it has ever had,” Live Nation-Ticketmaster controls over 80% of the market for primary ticket sales at the largest U.S. venues and holds exclusive ticketing contracts with many major stadiums and arenas. Okay, well we guess they have their reasons. Stay tuned for how this plays out. Until then, it’s festival season. Enjoy.

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