The US Wants to Break Up Ticketmaster and Live Nation: Everything to Know

When you try to buy concert and sports tickets onlinewe face many obstacles, including extremely high prices and fees. In January a Senate hearing investigation into Ticketmaster hinted that we could see government antitrust action in an attempt to bring relief to ticket buyers.

Months later it happens. A federal lawsuit filed May 23 by the Department of Justice, 29 states and Washington, D.C., alleges that Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, unfairly dominate the live events industry and should be broken up.

“We allege that Live Nation has relied on illegal, anti-competitive conduct to exert its monopoly control over the live event industry in the United States at the expense of fans, artists, smaller promoters and venue operators,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland in statement. “The result is that fans pay more fees, artists have fewer opportunities to play gigs, smaller promoters are squeezed out and venues have less real choice for ticketing services. It’s time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster.”

Ticketmaster disagrees.

“Fans want to see the bands and sports teams they love, and they’re infuriated by the fact that tickets are sold out on Ticketmaster and then offered by the hundreds on secondary online sites for double and triple the price,” Dan Wall, executive vice president of Live Nation president of corporate and regulatory affairs, writes online statement. “But the government chose not to do anything about it. Instead, it filed a lawsuit that misleads the public into thinking that ticket prices will be lower if something is done about Live Nation and Ticketmaster.” The Justice Department, Wall said, “is not helping consumers with their real problems.” .

Wall said the lawsuit won’t reduce ticket prices or service fees, and that Ticketmaster’s market share has actually declined since 2010. His statement argued that the lawsuit was a distraction from practical solutions, such as allowing artists to set limits on ticket resale prices.

Read more: What happened at Ticketmaster’s Senate hearing: Taylor Swift, bots and more

But the government doesn’t see it that way.

“We’re not here because Ticketmaster’s behavior is embarrassing or disappointing … we’re here because it’s illegal,” Garland said during press conference announcement of the case. Live Nation has repulsed against allegations of illegality and said that Live Nation and Ticketmaster do not possess monopoly power.

Right now, ticket buyers can’t do much but follow the progress of this high-profile case. Here’s what’s happening and how it could affect ticket prices and fees in the future.

Department of Justice

May 23 court trial filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York alleges that Live Nation and Ticketmaster monopolize the sale of tickets to live events in the United States. The suit seeks to split the companies.

According to the DOJ’s allegations, Live Nation-Ticketmaster:

  • There are illegal monopolies involving concert promotions and primary ticketing markets.
  • It has engaged in exclusionary behavior with live concert venues, meaning venues that do not sign exclusive deals risk retaliation.
  • Blocks seats from using multiple tickets.
  • Restricts artists’ access to venues unless they sign exclusive deals.

“America’s live music industry is broken because Live Nation-Ticketmaster has an illegal monopoly,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Canter, who works in the DOJ’s antitrust division. “Our antitrust case seeks to break up the Live Nation-Ticketmaster monopoly and restore competition for the benefit of fans and artists.”

Twenty-nine states and one district are involved in the DOJ’s case against Live Nation and Ticketmaster: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York , North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming and Washington, DC.

Read more: Don’t Get Scammed: How to Safely Buy Resale Concert Tickets

Live Nation’s response

“Is the ticketing market confusing for consumers? Yes, it sure is,” writes Live Nation’s Dan Wall. “And we’ve been very clear in the halls of Congress and at the DOJ that we support real reforms that will actually help fans get tickets at the price the artist has determined for them to pay.”

Wall argued that the net profits show that Live Nation and Ticketmaster do not monopolize the ticketing industry and that the company’s market share has declined since 2010 as other ticketing platforms have come online. He rejects claims of illegality and says the DOJ case is a distraction from practical solutions, such as allowing artists to set limits on resale ticket prices. He also claimed the case was an attempt to make the company a scapegoat for the ticketing industry’s problems.

“[The lawsuit] ignores everything that is actually responsible for higher ticket prices, from rising production costs, to artist popularity, to 24/7 online ticket scalping that reveals audiences’ willingness to pay far more than original ticket prices.” Wall wrote.

Read more: Buying concert tickets online is a mess. 10 tips for grabbing the seats you want

Potential effect on ticket prices and fees

According to CNN, the case could take years, so ticket buyers may not see any changes for a while. But even when all is said and done, there’s no guarantee that tickets will be cheaper. Part of the DOJ’s goal, of course, is to benefit the consumer through competition, but Live Nation’s Wall counters that ticket prices and fees won’t drop as a result of the lawsuit.

Read more: Taylor Swift calls Ticketmaster chaos ‘excruciating’: Lessons from the mess

What happens next

The DOJ case requires a trial and no trial date has yet been set.

This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

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