The US government is attacking Live Nation for anti-competitive practices

The US Justice Department on Thursday sued live entertainment company Live Nation Entertainment, alleging anti-competitive practices in organizing concerts and ticketing through its subsidiary Ticketmaster.

• Read more: Taylor Swift, U2 and a record year: why show tickets are so expensive

Justice Secretary Merrick Garland was quoted as saying in a press release issued Thursday that Live Nation’s methods “permit the exercise of monopoly control over the live entertainment industry in the United States.”

“The result is that fans pay more, artists have fewer opportunities to perform, smaller promoters are pushed out, and venues have fewer ticket choices,” he said.

Live Nation Entertainment is a company formed from the 2010 merger between concert promoters Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

“The time has come to separate Live Nation and Ticketmaster,” argued Merrick Garland.

With revenues of $22.7 billion by 2023, the group is the world’s largest player in live entertainment.

It says it organized more than 50,000 events last year, attracting more than 145 million visitors.

Live Nation has partner or exclusive contracts with 373 venues worldwide, according to its annual report.

According to Deputy Minister Lisa Monaco, the company is illegally seeking to “consolidate its dominance of the concert market and act as the protector of an entire industry”.

According to subpoenas filed in federal court in Manhattan, the government accuses competitors of threatening to promote concerts, but venues where Live Nation worked with competitors.

Also condemned as anti-competitive are the numerous exclusive deals Live Nation has negotiated with arenas and stadiums that require them to use Ticketmaster for ticketing.

The ruling also addresses the obligation of artists to use advertising and ticketing services when they perform at a venue controlled by Live Nation.

“Paying more attention”

The company argued that the lawsuit had no basis, saying it was “the result of intense political pressure and a lobbying campaign by competitors and ticket resellers”.

“The world is better, not worse, for this merger (between Live Nation and Ticketmaster),” the group asserted in a press release.

Ticketmaster’s dominant position in the ticket market has been criticized many times by artists and politicians.

The most notable example is the grunge group Pearl Jam, which tried to avoid the operator during its 1993 tour and finally gave up.

Most recently, Ticketmaster has been criticized for its handling of ticket sales for American singer Taylor Swift’s tourIn November 2022.

Overwhelmed by requests, the operator saw its site crash, unable to filter out “bots,” the software that allows people to buy tickets in bulk and then resell them.

The affair led to public criticism of Taylor Swift, but most of all to a hearing before the US Senate’s Judiciary Committee, during which one of the committee’s leaders was strongly reprimanded.

“To have a robust capitalist system, you need competition,” Democratic Senator Amy Globuchar said on the occasion. “You can’t focus too much.”

“It is absurd to claim that Live Nation and Ticketmaster have monopoly power,” the panel asserted on Thursday, asserting that the commissions and fees charged by Ticketmaster “are no higher than elsewhere and are often lower.”

The Biden administration has shown itself to be more aggressive than its predecessors on the competitive front.

The Justice Department has already struck down Google and Apple, but has been able to strike down several mergers between airlines Spirit and JetBlue or publishers Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster.

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