DOJ Files Suit to Break Up Live Nation-Ticketmaster in Historic Victory for Fans, Artists, and Live Events

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The Department of Justice Antitrust Division today filed an extensive antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation-Ticketmaster for its monopoly power over the live events supply chain, including the primary ticket selling market, concert promotions, and major venues. The complaint alleges that Live Nation has reinforced its monopoly power through exclusive dealing, tying of large amphitheaters and concert promotions, and the splitting of markets with potential competitors. In response, the American Economic Liberties Project released the following statement.

“Today is a historic, long-awaited day for fans, artists, and independent businesses in the live events industry—the Department of Justice is officially seeking to break up one of America’s most infamous monopolies,” said Morgan Harper, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the American Economic Liberties Project. “For far too long, Live Nation-Ticketmaster has acted as the mafia boss of the live events industry — using its power to rip off fans with sky-high prices and junk fees, exploit musicians and artists, and bully workers and small business owners in the industry. Since 2022, we’ve been urging government to take action to stop the obvious abuses of this cartoonishly-villainous monopoly—mobilizing the 100,000-plus Americans who sent letters to the Department of Justice through our Break Up Ticketmaster coalition. Today, Jonathan Kanter and the DOJ Antitrust answered those calls to action.“

“The Justice Department’s case reflects a deep understanding of how Live Nation’s various business lines reinforce its monopoly power not just over the selling of tickets, but over large venues and concert promotions,” said Lee Hepner, Senior Legal Counsel at the American Economic Liberties Project. “Live Nation’s pattern of retaliation against independent venues and promoters is supplemented by evidence of market splitting to avoid competition and depress compensation for artists. At the end of the day, consumers are paying more, artists are making less, and Live Nation is walking away with the bag. The companies should, at a minimum, be broken up.”

The 2010 merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster combined the nation’s largest concert promoter, venue operator, and artist manager with the nation’s largest ticketing service. The merged firm proceeded to leverage its control over each layer of the live event industry to block competitors to any part of its empire and self-deal at the expense of artists, independent venues, and fans—for example, by threatening to boycott venues for tours unless they used Ticketmaster. The Justice Department describes the integration of Live Nation’s various business lines as a “self-reinforcing ‘flywheel,’” allowing it to impose a litany of fees that it calls a “Ticketmaster Tax.”

Although these behaviors clearly violated the court-ordered consent decree Live Nation submitted to at the time of the merger, the Obama and Trump administrations punted on opportunities to implement stronger remedies, allowing Live Nation’s anti-competitive and illegal behavior to continue into the present. Many fans reached a breaking point over eye-popping monopoly prices for Taylor Swift’s Eras tour in the fall of 2022 (as the company reported record profits), leading to calls for the Justice Department to take action once again. Over 100,000 fans, artists, and industry professionals sent letters to the DOJ through Economic Liberties’ Break Up Ticketmaster campaign launched in fall 2022, ratcheting up the pressure on the agency.

The Antitrust Division’s new suit challenges and proposes structural remedies to curtail Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s monopoly power business lines: ticket selling, concert promotion, venue ownership, and more. Similar to remedies Economic Liberties called for in a January 2024 legal brief, the suit orders, at a minimum, the divestiture of Ticketmaster, along with termination of Live Nation’s ticketing agreement with Oak View Group, enjoining Live Nation from continuing to engage in anticompetitive practices, and other structural relief to restore competition to the live events market.

Read the Case Against Live Nation-Ticketmaster here.

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