LifestyleAttorney general sues Live Nation for monopolizing live entertainment

Attorney general sues Live Nation for monopolizing live entertainment

District of Columbia Attorney General Brian L. Schwalb has joined the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and a bipartisan coalition of 30 state attorneys general in filing an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment, the owner of Ticketmaster. 

The lawsuit alleges that Live Nation and Ticketmaster have illegally monopolized the live entertainment industry, resulting in higher prices for District residents attending live shows.

“The District’s vibrant live entertainment scene is vital to our local economy and culture, from fans flocking to see their favorite artists, to the thousands of workers employed by D.C.’s venues,” Schwalb stated. 

The attorney general noted Live Nation’s monopoly on venues in the District and nationwide, saying the company has “grown to dominate nearly every corner of the live entertainment ecosystem, developing a stranglehold on the industry that has eliminated any meaningful competition.” 

“Almost every sizable concert venue in the District is locked into a Ticketmaster deal, resulting in District concertgoers paying Ticketmaster’s exorbitant fees to enjoy shows,” he said.

Schwalb declared that his office would always fight to ensure that “District residents have access to free, fair markets that promote competition and choice.”

The District is home to over 20 music venues of varying sizes, from the 20,000-seat Capital One Arena to more intimate settings.  In 2022 alone, residents and visitors reportedly spent $1.1 billion on live entertainment, with Ticketmaster sales data showing the District had the highest per capita ticket sales in the nation.

Live Nation controls two of the most crucial segments of the live entertainment industry at District venues: ticketing and artist promotions. The company is the exclusive ticketing service provider for nearly all large venues in Washington, D.C., and dominates concert promotions, limiting competition and driving up costs for consumers.

“We allege that Live Nation relies on unlawful, anticompetitive conduct to exercise its monopolistic control over the live events industry in the United States at the cost of fans, artists, smaller promoters, and venue operators,” Attorney General Merrick Garland remarked in a statement. “The result is that 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 is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster.”

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, claims that Live Nation has harmed fans by raising fees and restricting information about the total cost of tickets. The DOJ and state attorneys general also allege that Live Nation maintains its monopoly by locking venues into long-term, exclusive agreements and threatening to withhold Live Nation-controlled tours and artists if they sign with rival ticketing companies.

The suit seeks to restore competition in the live entertainment industry by securing financial compensation for the District and overcharged fans, prohibiting Live Nation’s anticompetitive practices, and ordering the divestiture of Ticketmaster.

In a statement, Fan Fairness Coalition President and Republican antitrust expert Mark Meador and Secretary and Democratic antitrust expert Amanda Lewis praised the DOJ’s action. “We applaud the Department of Justice’s decision to take this necessary action and address Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s monopolistic and anticompetitive business practices,” the duo stated. 

“This lawsuit is a response to the tens of thousands of live event fans who, with the help of the Fan Fairness Coalition, made their voices heard and called on federal officials to break up this platform that has dominated ticketing for far too long and prevented competition from driving the industry forward.”

They explained the DOJ is taking an important step in holding Ticketmaster accountable. 

“The only way to ensure fair competition, more access, and better service for fans and artists is for the DOJ to see this lawsuit through to the end of Live Nation-Ticketmaster.”

Source: Washington Informer

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