REPORT: Justice Department To Sue Live Nation, Ticketmaster Over Monopolistic Control Of The Ticketing Industry

This antitrust lawsuit comes after an investigation was opened in 2022.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

April 16, 2024


5:08 pm

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Concert Crowd; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

Fox Business has received a report claiming that the Department of Justice is preparing to file a major anti-trust lawsuit against Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation, “for breaking anti-trust laws.” The outlet revealed that the DOJ could file the lawsuit as early as next month.

The Wall Street Journal was the first to share the news on Monday, April 15, saying the litigation will accuse the biggest concert promoter in the country of using its power to hinder its competition. The specific allegations being brought into the suit were not included in the report.

Live Nation President Apologizes To Taylor Swift Fans

An investigation regarding the amount of control Live Nation has over the industry as a whole was opened in 2022 as a result of Ticketmaster crashing as it could not handle the volume of 3.5 billion Taylor Swift fans trying to purchase pre-sale tickets for the singer’s highly-anticipated “Eras Tour,” The New York Times previously reported. According to Fox News senior congressional correspondent Chad Pergram, Live Nation is accusing bots of being the source of the problem.

This issue was brought up during a recent congressional hearing in which Live Nation president and CFO, Joe Berchtold, gave an apology to all the fans impacted. 

Taylor Swift; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Taylor Swift; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

“This is what led to a terrible consumer experience, which we deeply regret.” Berchtold began. “We apologize to the fans, we apologize to Miss Swift, we need to better and we will do better. Ticketmaster learned valuable lessons from this onsale.”

Connecticut Senator, Richard Blumenthal, disagrees with the idea that bots are behind the issue at hand, and expressed his concern regarding competition within the industry. 

“The main point here is this whole ticketing concert system is an absolute mess. Ticketmaster should look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m the problem, it’s me,’” Blumenthal said in reference to Swift’s top-charting hit, “Anti-Hero.”

Who Is Responsible For Setting The Ticket Fees Per Show?

Another topic of conversation involves the question of who is responsible for setting the fees for shows. Pergram revealed that a government study found the fees consume 27% of ticket prices, thus leading to an ongoing complaint by those who are the most impacted – fans and artists.

“We truly do not see Live Nation as the enemy, they’re just the largest player in a game that feels stacked against us as artists and often our fans as well,” stated singer/songwriter Clyde Lawrence. “Why is it standard for Live Nation to take a 20% commission on our merchandise sales while we never receive a cent of their ancillary revenue like concessions, alcohol and parking?”

In 2010, the Justice Department approved the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster merger, with the promise that the agencies would introduce more competition to the ticketing business. However, at the time, The Journal revealed that many critics came forward saying since Live Nation-owned or ran 135 major concert venues globally at the time, they feared those venues would feel pressured to exclusively use the new ticketing arm.

“Ticketmaster has more competition today than it has ever had, and the deal terms with venues show it has nothing close to monopoly power,” a Ticketmaster spokeswoman told the Journal. 

In an essay shared to Live Nation’s website last month, the company’s head of corporate affairs, Dan Wall, refuted the claims stating the business is acting as a monopoly. He argued that ticket prices are actually determined by artists and teams themselves and not by Ticketmaster or other “primary ticketing companies.”

Wall stated that these companies are only responsible for “the technology and services that venues need to manage and market shows, sell tickets, and validate tickets for entry.” 

The terms of the 2010 agreement were initially set to expire in 2019, but anti-trust regulars have since been extended it to 2025. As part of the extension, the settlement was revised to include an anti-retaliation clause. Under this provision, Live Nation is subject to a $1 million penalty for each time it threatens to withhold shows from venues that sell tickets through a ticketing company other than Ticketmaster.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.