Ticketmaster owner Live Nation is facing a monopoly lawsuit – after criticism from Taylor Swift

Ticketmaster’s failed sale of tickets for a highly anticipated Taylor Swift tour in 2022 prompted US politicians to investigate the company’s dominance in the industry.

By means of Claire Gilbody Dickerson, news reporter

Thursday May 23, 2024 6:37 PM, UK

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is suing Live Nation, arguing that the major concert promoter and its subsidiary, Ticketmaster, have “monopolized” the live events industry.

The antitrust lawsuit was launched Thursday by the DOJ, 30 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, with U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland saying, “It’s time to break up Live Nation.”

The entertainment company merged with Ticketmaster in 2010. Through Ticketmaster, Live Nation now controls approximately 80% or more of primary ticket sales for concerts at major venues, the lawsuit said.

A spokesperson for Live Nation said the company would defend itself “against these baseless allegations” and said the DOJ would lose in court because the case “ignores the fundamental economics of live entertainment.”

Ticketmaster, which overwhelmingly dominates the ticketing industry, has for years left fans and artists frustrated with hidden fees, rising costs and limited ticket availability due to pre-sales.

Its dominance in the industry came under scrutiny by American politicians in 2022when Ticketmaster was forced to cancel general ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s long-awaited Eras tour due to “extremely high demands”.

At the time, the superstar criticized Ticketmaster on social mediaand said it was “unbearable for me to see mistakes happen without recourse” after Swift’s fans reported long wait times and site outages during presales.

The star said 2.4 million fans had been able to buy tickets, which was “really great… but it really bothers me that a lot of them feel like they’ve gone through several bear attacks to get them.”

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Thursday’s legal action underlines the aggressive approach President Joe Biden’s antitrust enforcers have introduced this in their attempt to create more competition in a wide range of industries, from “big tech” to healthcare and groceries.

In March, the Ministry of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Apple claiming that the tech giant has monopoly power in the smartphone market.

“Live Nation relies on unlawful, anti-competitive conduct to exert its monopolistic control over the live events industry
in the United States, at the expense of fans, artists, smaller promoters and venue operators,” Garland said.

He added that as a result, fans pay more, artists have fewer opportunities to perform and smaller promoters are squeezed out.

According to the lawsuit, Live Nation directly manages more than 400 artists and controls approximately 60% of concert promotions at major venues.

It also owns or controls more than 265 concert halls in North America.

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In 2010, the Justice Department approved Ticketmaster’s controversial merger with Live Nation, with conditions
to prevent the combined company from harming competition.

In 2020, a court extended most of the DOJ’s oversight of the merger until 2025 because, the department said, Ticketmaster
retaliated against stadiums and arenas that chose to use other ticketing companies.

Live Nation has said in the past that it was confident its business practices were legal and that the investigation was prompted by complaints from rivals, including resellers.

A company spokesperson said Thursday that the lawsuit “will not resolve the issues of concern to fans regarding ticket prices, service fees and access to in-demand shows.”

Live Nation added that “Calling Ticketmaster a monopoly may be a PR victory for the DOJ in the short term, but it will lose in court because it ignores the fundamental economics of live entertainment” – stating that most service costs go to locations.

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