The United States intends to accuse Live Nation of defending a monopoly

The Justice Department and a group of states plan to sue Live Nation Entertainment, the concert giant that owns Ticketmaster, as early as Thursday, accusing it of illegally maintaining a monopoly in the live entertainment industry, three people familiar with the matter said .

The government plans to argue in a lawsuit that Live Nation has entrenched its power through Ticketmaster's exclusive ticketing contracts with concert venues, as well as the company's dominance over concert tours and other businesses such as venue management, they said two of the people, who declined to be named because the case was still private. That has helped the company maintain a monopoly, raising prices and fees for consumers and limiting innovation in the ticketing industry, the people said.

The government will argue that tours promoted by the company were more likely to play venues where Ticketmaster was the exclusive ticketing service, one of the people said, and that Live Nation artists played venues it owned.

Live Nation is a giant of the concert world and a force in the lives of musicians and fans. Its size and scope far exceeds that of any competitor, encompassing concert promotion, ticketing, artist management and the management of hundreds of venues and festivals around the world.

The Ticketmaster division alone sells 600 million tickets a year to events around the world. By some estimates, it handles ticketing for 70-80% of major concert halls in the United States.

Lawmakers, fans and competitors have accused the company of engaging in practices that harm rivals and drive up ticket prices and fees. At a congressional hearing early last year, prompted by Taylor Swift's tour pre-sale on Ticketmaster that left millions unable to purchase tickets, senators from both parties called Live Nation a monopoly.

The company has denied setting high prices and fees, saying artists and other parties such as major venues are responsible.

A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment. A spokesperson for Live Nation declined to comment. Bloomberg News previously reported that the lawsuit was imminent.

In recent years, American regulators have sued more big companies, testing age-old antitrust laws against the new power big companies wield over consumers. The Justice Department sued Apple in March, alleging that the company made it difficult for customers to abandon its devices, and has already filed two cases alleging that Google violated antitrust laws. The Federal Trade Commission last year filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon for harming sellers on its platform and is pursuing another against Meta, in part over its acquisitions of Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp.

The Justice Department allowed Live Nation, the world's largest concert promoter, to buy Ticketmaster in 2010 under certain conditions set out in a legal settlement. If venues didn't use Ticketmaster, for example, Live Nation couldn't threaten to hold concert tours.

In 2019, however, the Department of Justice found that Live Nation had violated those terms and modified and extended the agreement.

The Justice Department's latest investigation into Live Nation began in 2022. Live Nation has simultaneously ramped up its lobbying efforts, spending $2.4 million on federal lobbying in 2023, up from $1.1 million in 2022, according to documents available through the independent website OpenSecrets.

In April, the company co-hosted a lavish party in Washington ahead of the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner, which featured a performance by country singer Jelly Roll and cocktail napkins displaying positive facts about Live's impact Nation on the economy, like the billions he says he pays to artists.

Under pressure from the White House, Live Nation said in June that it would begin showing prices for shows at venues it owns that include all expenses, including incidentals. The Federal Trade Commission has proposed a rule that would ban hidden commissions.

A former Federal Trade Commission chairman, Bill Kovacic, said Wednesday that a lawsuit against the company would be a rebuke to previous antitrust officials who allowed the company to grow to its current size.

“It's another way of saying that the previous policy failed and failed badly,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *