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Live Nation and Ticketmaster Could Soon Face Federal Antitrust Lawsuit

Live Nation and Ticketmaster may finally face a federal antitrust lawsuit after years of criticism from fans and politicians over how the entertainment giant may have abused its power as the dominant force in the live music industry.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Department of Justice’s antitrust division is preparing to file a lawsuit against Live Nation in the next few weeks. No exact date was given, nor were specific details about the suit. But sources reportedly said it would accuse Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, of using its standing and power in the industry to undermine competition. 

Reps for the DOJ and Live Nation did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment.

The suit will potentially arrive two years after the DOJ launched an investigation into Live Nation and Ticketmaster. While the probe had begun earlier in the year, it was first revealed in Nov. 2022 after Ticketmaster’s disastrous on-sale rollout for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. The debacle put a magnifying glass on many issues that had long dogged fans, like wait times and high price mark-ups. Politicians soon piled on, too, expressing concerns about anticompetitive practices and Live Nation’s alleged monopoly over the live entertainment industry.

Live Nation has repeatedly pushed back against these accusations. Just last month, the company’s head of corporate affairs, Dan Wall, published an essay that argued against the claim that the alleged monopoly was the reason for high ticket prices. Instead, Wall said, it was artists who set ticket prices and that the biggest stars in the world could command high prices because “demand is regularly well in excess of the supply in tickets.” As for Ticketmaster’s infamous fees, Wall argued they’re not “junk fees,” but necessary to cover operational costs for venues and the ticket seller. 

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Ticketmaster, in particular, has faced plenty of criticism over the decades, like when Pearl Jam famously tried to take on the company in the Nineties. But its merger with Live Nation — the biggest concert promoter and venue operator — in 2010 is the source of many of the modern complaints about the practices of the entwined companies. Among them is the accusation that Live Nation has pressured concert venues into using Ticketmaster over other ticketing systems — an anti-competition allegation that nearly led the DOJ to sue Live Nation in 2019. (A settlement was ultimately reached.)

While Ticketmaster reportedly holds over 80% of the primary ticket sale market, a spokesperson for the company argued to the WSJ that it actually faces “more competition today than it has ever had, and the deal terms with venues show it has nothing close to monopoly power.” 

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