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CT and feds ask judge to break up Ticketmaster ‘monopoly’

The U.S. Justice Department filed a sweeping antitrust lawsuit against Ticketmaster and parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, on Thursday, accusing them of running an illegal monopoly over live events in America.

John Craven and Associated Press

May 23, 2024, 8:54 PM

Updated 26 days ago


It’s a problem Swifties know “all too well.” Millions of them lost out on Taylor Swift seats when Ticketmaster’s website crashed two years ago.
Now, Connecticut is joining a massive federal lawsuit to break up the concert giant.
The U.S. Justice Department filed a sweeping antitrust lawsuit against Ticketmaster and parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, on Thursday, accusing them of running an illegal monopoly over live events in America – squelching competition and driving up prices for fans.
Connecticut and 28 other states joined the suit.
“I think all of us know that Ticketmaster and Live Nation is a monopoly,” said state Attorney General William Tong. “If I want to take my girls to go see Taylor Swift, I have no choice. Absolutely no choice. I have to go through Ticketmaster.”
Swift’s fans, including Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, pushed for the lawsuit.
“This enforcement action should be music to the ears of consumers – a strong step supporting fair competition,” Blumenthal said. “For far too long, Live Nation’s exercise of monopolistic control over this industry has boxed out competition, leading to astronomically rising prices and exorbitant hidden fees.”
Long-standing frustrations with Ticketmaster reached a boiling point in 2022, when the company’s website crashed during sales of Swift’s blockbuster Eras Tour.
“Ticketmaster takes the $490 out of my account, but it, like, crashed,” one TikTok user complained.
In Connecticut, Live Nation owns Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater in Bridgeport, Xfinity Theater in Hartford and the Toyota Oakdale Theater in Wallingford.
In 2009, Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation, which puts on events. The lawsuit claims the massive company is a vertical monopoly that now controls every level of the concert industry, including venues, artist management and ticket resale sites.
“It is time to break up Live Nation and Ticketmaster. The American people are ready for it,” said U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. “Ticketmaster can impose a seemingly endless list of fees on fans. Those include ticketing fees, service fees, convenience fees, platinum fees.”
Speaking of all those fees, Ticketmaster now has to disclose them up front – thanks to a new state law.
The lawsuit alleges that Live Nation’s anti-competitive practices include using long-term contracts to keep venues from choosing rival ticketers, blocking venues from using multiple ticket sellers and threatening venues that they could lose money and fans if they don’t choose Ticketmaster. The Justice Department says Live Nation also threatened to retaliate against one firm if it didn’t stop a subsidiary from competing for artist promotion contracts.
“Live music should not be available only to those who can afford to pay the Ticketmaster tax,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “We are here today to fight for competition so that we can reopen the doors to the live music industry for all.”
Ticketmaster has clashed repeatedly with artists and fans over the years. Pearl Jam took aim at the company in 1994, although the Justice Department ultimately declined to bring a case. More recently, Bruce Springsteen fans were enraged over high ticket costs because of the platform’s dynamic pricing system.
Ticketmaster has also had disputes with its industry competitors. In 2015, StubHub sued Ticketmaster and the Golden State Warriors, alleging it unfairly required fans looking to resell tickets to use Ticketmaster’s resale exchange. StubHub alleged in the lawsuit that the organizations prevented fans from deciding how they want to resell tickets and artificially drove up ticket prices.
Live Nation said the lawsuit will do little to help fans or artists.
“Calling Ticketmaster a monopoly may be a PR win for the DOJ in the short term, but it will lose in court because it ignores the basic economics of live entertainment,” Live Nation Executive Vice President Dan Wall said in a lengthy online statement. “The DOJ’s lawsuit won't solve the issues fans care about relating to ticket prices, service fees, and access to in-demand shows. It ignores everything actually responsible for higher ticket prices, from increasing production costs to artist popularity, to 24/7 online ticket scalping.”
Tong called the company’s defense “absurd.”
“If they’re not controlling it, who is?” he said. “They control the promotion. They control where the artist gets to play. They control the venues.”

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