June 16, 2024

The Department of Justice reportedly plans to sue Live Nation Entertainment for antitrust violations over Ticketmaster’s dominance in the concert ticket market as soon as Thursday.

The Justice Department will be joined by a group of states in pursuing the case against Live Nation, Bloomberg and Rolling Stone report. The lawsuit is expected to be filed in the Southern District of New York and, Bloomberg reports, will seek remedies that could include breaking up Live Nation.

Live Nation stock dropped almost 5% in premarket trading on Thursday morning.

The Beverly Hills, California-based company is the country’s largest contest promoter.

In 2010, a merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster was approved by the Justice Department under the condition that the new entity wouldn’t retaliate against venues that declined to work with Ticketmaster. That deal gave Live Nation Entertainment control of more than 70% of the ticketing and live events market.

In 2019, Live Nation settled a DOJ lawsuit that accused it of violating those terms on five separate occasions, including threats that the company would withhold tours from concert venues that did not renew deals with Ticketmaster. That consent decree was later extended to 2025 and an independent monitor was appointed to investigate further allegations.

In November 2022, the DOJ opened a new probe into the company to investigate how it beats out rival ticketing services, concert promoters, and other players in the live music industry, Politico reported at the time. The inquiry came as Live Nation endured a barrage of criticism when it allegedly mishandled ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s record-setting — and economy boosting — Eras Tour.

When tickets went on sale that month, the overwhelming demand crashed Ticketmaster’s website, leading to immense backlash from Swifties, public apologies in congressional hearings, and a new wave of scrutiny. Several U.S. senators have advocated for the company to be broken up, as have rivals.

The “behavioral remedy was the only thing they put in place,” Cris Miller, an executive at rival StubHub, said during the 2024 Anti-Monopoly Summit this week, referring to the DOJ’s approval of the 2010 merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster. “That’s failed, miserably. The truth is structural remedies are the only way to solve for it.”

Dan Wall, who leads Live Nation’s corporate and regulatory affairs department, in March fired back against assumptions about his companies’ dominance and control over surging ticket prices.

“Statements to the effect that Live Nation and Ticketmaster ‘keep ticket prices high’ are just flat wrong,” Wall wrote in a lengthy essay. “Anyone with a basic understanding of the industry knows this. Those who perpetuate this falsehood are cynical at best. They do a disservice to consumers and to rational political discourse.”

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