Ticketmaster owners ordered to be broken up to break stranglehold on live entertainment

ticketmaster owners ordered to be broken up to break stranglehold on live entertainment

The live music giant could be split 14 years after a $2.5billion merger (Picture: Paul Sakuma/AP Photo)

The US government is trying to split up Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation, accusing it of an illegal monopoly in the live entertainment industry.

Merrick Garland, the US attorney general, said ‘it is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster’,

The overarching Live Nation Entertainment company, which sells tickets and promotes gigs, was formed through a $2.5billion merger in 2010.

It also owns and operates music venues and manages music artists.

Garland said the company’s business practices mean ‘fans pay more in fees, artists have fewer opportunities to play concerts, smaller promoters get squeezed out, and venues have fewer real choices for ticketing services’.

It’s faced a wave of criticism since the botched sale of concert tickets for Taylor Swift’s Eras arena tour left millions of fans disappointed in 2022.

Ticketmaster cancelled the public ticket sale after its website was overwhelmed by ‘extraordinarily high demands’.

It blamed a large number of fans as well as attacks from bots posing as consumers to scoop up tickets for resale to secondary sites.

Critics blamed the company’s ‘labyrinth-like ticketing process’ and high prices, which have more than tripled across the industry in the last 20 years.

By 2022 the company controlled 60% of concert promotion and 80 to 100% of the top 100 arenas in the USA.

At the time, a group of US lawmakers, including Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, called on Garland to take action if an investigation of the company found ‘anticompetitive behavior’.

ticketmaster owners ordered to be broken up to break stranglehold on live entertainment

‘The Eras Tour has been cancelled’, Ticketmaster posted on X after its website was overwhelmed in 2022 (Picture: Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty)

The US Department of Justice has now accused Live Nation of using a monopoly to suppress competition in a lawsuit brought against the company.

Among these alleged practices are the use of long-term exclusivity agreements with venues, and the purchase of start-ups to stamp out competition.

Ticketmaster has become the default ticketing platform for numerous artists due to the company’s control of many of the venues where they perform.

Some 30 US state and district attorneys-general have also filed the lawsuit, the Financial Times reported.

Jonathan Kanter, head of the DoJ’s antitrust unit, said: ‘The live music industry in America is broken because Live Nation-Ticketmaster has an illegal monopoly.’

When a federal investigation was launched in 2022, Ticketmaster claimed its large market share was due to ‘the large gap that exists between the quality of the Ticketmaster system and the next best primary ticketing system’.

But competitors claim they’re shut out of the market by Ticketmaster withholding acts if the venues don’t use Ticketmaster for selling tickets.

The US Justice Department had allowed the 2010 merger as long as Live Nation agreed not to retaliate against concert venues for using other ticket companies for 10 years.

But it had ‘repeatedly’ violated that agreement, according to a 2019 investigation by that department.

It extended the prohibition on retaliation to 2025 as a result.

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