Bombshell Lawsuit Dropped on Ticketmaster’s Parent Company for Bad Business Practices

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: May 23, 2024

The U.S. Department of Justice, along with 30 state and district attorney generals, have filed a groundbreaking anti-trust lawsuit against Live Nation, Ticketmaster’s parent company. The groups seek to challenge the country’s biggest ticketing website and concert promoters, who have been alleged to stifle competition by creating a monopoly.

The U.S. Government has requested a jury trial and the company’s dissolution in order to regain customer trust, lower ticket sales, and dismantle Live Nation’s monopoly over concert tickets.

Sweeping Changes Expected in the Industry

If the case is successful, the U.S. Department of Justice expects to see massive changes in the ticket market for live events.

A large white courthouse with an American flag waving at half mast

Source: Jonas Ekstomer/NDLA

The industry came under fire in 2022 after website glitches on Ticketmaster blocked millions of Taylor Swift fans from purchasing tickets for the super popular “Eras” tour. For many people who have been noticing discrepancies with Live Nation’s business practices, the Swift concert issue revealed how a lack of competition harms the customer.

Live Nation Published a Statement on the Lawsuit

After the lawsuit was announced by the DOJ, Live Nation called the allegations “baseless” and that “the lawsuit won’t solve the issues fans care about relating to ticket prices, service fees, and access to in-demand shows.”

A person holding a phone screen that reads "live Nation Entertainment"

Source: @RollingStone/X

The statement went on to state, “Calling Ticketmaster a monopoly may be a PR win for the DOJ in the short term, but it will lose in court because it ignored the basic economics of live entertainment.”

DOJ Slams Back With Allegations of Illegal Business Practices

In a press conference on Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland presented a long list of fees presented by Ticketmaster to its customers.

A man wearing a black suit stands at a podium in front of the official Department of Justice sign and an American flag

Source: @Reuters/X

The charges included “ticketing fees, service fees, convenience fees, platinum fees, per-order fees, handling fees and payment processing fees, among others.” Garland went on to state that “Ticketmaster’s conduct is [not just] inconvenient or frustrating…we’re here because it’s illegal.”

Prosecutor’s List of Allegations

The alleged wrongdoings by the live music business include monopolizing the ticket and live events industry by cutting exclusive deals with the country’s largest concert venues nationwide.

Fans are pictured dancing during a concert in the city

Source: Freepik

The exclusive deals ensure that future events will only be tickets from the Ticketmaster platform.

Monopolizing Tactics

Further, the lawsuit claims that Live Nation directly manages over 400 artists and controls 60% of concert promotions in the entire industry.

Hundreds of fans gather in an arena to enjoy a music concert

Source: Freepik

The country also controls 265 concert venues across the United States and Canada and controls the ticketing system at around 80% of all venues. The DOJ alleges that the practices that have allowed the stranglehold on the industry are “unlawful, anticompetitive conduct” and that 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.”


Musicians Speak Out Against Live Nation

Customers are not the only ones frustrated with Live Nation’s manipulative tactics. Critics say the company has so much control that it can dictate terms and fees to artists who feel unable to perform without using the service.

Taylor Swift with a blond bob, a full skirted pink dress, holding three gold grammy's in front of the gold and white grammy backdrop

Source: @metmidnights/X

After the 2022 fiasco, Swift took to Instagram to claim that the situation was painful for her and “pisses [her] off.” More bands have spoken out against Live Nation; The Cure and Zach Bryan have publically criticized the company’s practices.


Ticketmaster Competition Happy With the Lawsuit

Unsurprisingly, Ticketmaster’s main competitor, Stubhub, was pleased with the lawsuit’s announcement.

Fans are pictured dancing during a concert in the city

Source: Freepik

While it might pain Ticketmaster to give up some of their market share in the live music ticketing industry, other companies have a right to deliver their product to customers who desire a second choice. The company released a statement that was hopeful for the future of live ticketing and allowing more customers to enjoy live events.


Ticketmaster-Live Nation Merger Highly Criticized

The US government is now criticizing the powerful economic merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster that took place in 2010. For the past 15 years, these companies have held the live music industry for ransom.

Fans pictured with their hands in the air at a music concert

Source: Freepik

Now, the DOJ hopes to create new regulations to break up the industry monopoly. Although regulators allowed the merger at the time, they imposed regulations on the company meant to anticipate harm.


Antitrust Advocates Say Merger Was a Mistake

Antitrust advocates say that they knew the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster was a mistake from the beginning.

A woman with short brown hair speaks into a microphone while wearing a blue blazer

Source: @cnnbrk/X

Along with antitrust groups, critics are expected to include US lawmakers such as Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who called on the DOJ in 2019 to begin a thorough investigation into Live Nation for not living up to its commitments.


Republicans Also Favor Regulating the Ticketing Industry

Democratic senators are not the only ones who have noticed the unfair practices involved in the ticketing industry.

A close-up side profile of Senator Ted Cruz speaking into a microphone. He is wearing a blue suit and appears to be addressing an audience, with his mouth slightly open mid-speech

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Texas Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz have proposed numerous bills to help regulate the ticketing industry and allow other competitors to have a piece of the market.


Biden Administration Ramping up Antitrust Enforcement

Now that the company has been in power for more than 15 years, regulators can see how the initial rules set up allowed it to forgo them and create mistrust with customers in different ways.

President Joe Biden sitting at a table in a discussion setting

Source: POTUS/X

Now, the Biden administration is seeking more regulation with antitrust enforcement, beginning with this landmark case. More than 30 states are included in the lawsuit. A jury trial was requested in an effort to bring the proceeding to the public despite the complicated technical aspects of the case.