Live Nation Entertainment and Ticketmaster Sued by the United States

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The United States Justice Department has, as suspected, sued Live Nation Entertainment, alleging that the company, which owns Ticketmaster, holds a monopoly in the concert market. The lawsuit argues that the concert giant is breaching antitrust laws through its exclusivity contracts, threats to rivals, and leveraging of market domination over artists, resulting in inflated prices and stifled competition. “It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster,” Merrick Garland, the attorney general, said in a statement.

The Justice Department filed the lawsuit in a New York court this morning (May 23), with the backing of 29 states and the District of Columbia. It cites Live Nation’s multi-tentacled operation, which encompasses concert promotion, tickets, artist management, and an international venue network. Live Nation controls more than half of U.S. concert promotion at major venues, as well as some 80 percent of those venues’ primary ticketing.

In a statement, Live Nation Entertainment said it would defend against the allegations and “push for reforms that truly protect consumers and artists.” It denied holding a monopoly and argued that the lawsuit “ignores the basic economics of live entertainment, such as the fact that the bulk of service fees go to venues, and that competition has steadily eroded Ticketmaster’s market share and profit margin.”

Politicians, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren welcomed the action. Sanders wrote on X, “The Ticketmaster oligarchs are more concerned with increasing their profits and wealth than with artists and their fans. We must prevent their greed from destroying Americans’ access to art. The best way to do that is to break up their monopoly.”

Warren wrote that the Justice Department “stood up for you & sued Ticketmaster for out-of-control price gouging.” She continued, “Ever buy a ticket & been hit with ridiculous fees? That’s what happens when one company has too much power. It’s time to break up Ticketmaster & Live Nation.”

In a statement shared with Pitchfork, United Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) said:

United Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) applauds the Department of Justice for filing a comprehensive antitrust lawsuit against Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, for its illegal monopoly over live events in the U.S. Artists and their fans have continued to struggle as Live Nation squeezes out every ounce of profit available, making it impossible for artists to earn a fair wage and infeasible for fans to afford tickets. This is an important step towards establishing a sustainable live music industry where all music workers are paid fairly. UMAW thanks Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter for his leadership on this issue, and for continuing to center artists and fans.

The Justice Department’s investigation into Live Nation Entertainment precedes the Eras Tour ticketing debacle. The fiasco, however, renewed scrutiny of the company’s ticketing practices.