Live Nation/Ticketmaster Blasts DOJ, Claims Lawsuit is Politically Motivated

Tada Images /
Tada Images /

At a recent press conference, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the federal government, in conjunction with 29 states, has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, aiming to dismantle its alleged monopoly on U.S. concert ticket sales.

The latest lawsuit follows a class action case brought by Taylor Swift fans against Ticketmaster last year. In December, Swifties across the country filed a lawsuit alleging “unlawful conduct” in the chaotic ticket sales for the pop star’s tour. The lawsuit accuses Ticketmaster and its parent company of anti-competitive practices, resulting in higher prices for fans during the presale, sale, and resale phases.

The lawsuit claims that Ticketmaster monopolizes the ticketing process by making concertgoers use its platform exclusively and controlling all registration and access to Swift’s “The Eras Tour.” It also argues that Swift has “no choice” but to work with Ticketmaster due to its agreements with the large stadiums required for her extensive fan base. Additionally, it asserts that Ticketmaster profits from ticket resales in the secondary market by adding service fees to its fan-to-fan exchange.

Live Nation-Ticketmaster has been heavily criticized in recent years for its high fees and technological failures, which frustrate both fans and artists. Garland stressed that the government’s action is based on allegations of anti-competitive and illegal conduct rather than mere inconvenience.

The complaint asserts that Live Nation stifles competition by leveraging its resources to entrench its monopoly power. Ticketmaster is said to control over 70 percent of concert ticket sales, using long-term contracts—some lasting more than a decade—to lock out competitors. This approach is compounded by multiple fees, including ticketing, service, convenience, platinum, price master, per order, handling, and payment processing fees.

DOJ officials, including Garland, also accused Live Nation-Ticketmaster of monopolizing the ticket sale industry by acquiring venues and smaller ticket sellers and threatening venues that consider using alternative ticket sale options.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco remarked that the DOJ’s lawsuit is a significant step toward preventing a single company from controlling the live events industry. She noted that this move benefits not only fans and established artists but also emerging musicians, who will now have better opportunities to compete for major shows.

In response, Live Nation issued a statement dismissing the federal government’s claims as “absurd” and alleging a political agenda behind the lawsuit. The company argued that it does not fit the profile of a monopolist, which would derive monopoly profits from monopoly pricing. According to Live Nation, Ticketmaster’s service charges are comparable to, if not lower than, those of other sellers.

Live Nation attributed the blame for fan frustration over rising ticket prices to increasing production costs and the popularity of artists rather than its own practices. The company also pointed to ticket scalping as a factor, suggesting it demonstrates the public’s willingness to pay more than the primary ticket price.

They pointed out that the Obama administration had no issues with the 2010 merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster, which didn’t raise any red flags back then. Live Nation insists that this merger hasn’t just been harmless—it’s actually made the world a better place. So, according to them, all this fuss is just political grandstanding.

During the press conference, Garland emphasized the importance of making the live entertainment industry more accessible to both artists and fans. He shared a personal story about attending a Bonnie Raitt concert as a college senior, where he had the chance to see Bruce Springsteen perform as the opening act before he became a music industry icon.

When Springsteen’s long-awaited E Street Band tour tickets went on sale in 2022, fans were left slack-jawed by prices soaring upwards of $5,000.  Springsteen enthusiasts weren’t the only ones hit hard. Side view seats for Lady Gaga at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium cost $445.80, while general admission front pit tickets were going for $923.40. Want primo floor seats for Motley Crue, Def Leppard, and Poison at PNC Park in Pittsburgh? That’ll be $987.50, thank you very much.

While Garland can probably snag front-row seats without blinking, middle-class families are left explaining to their kids that tickets to see BTS or Taylor Swift now cost as much as a down payment on a modest house or a luxury car. Garland said that the Justice Department filed the lawsuit so fans can attend concerts without being gouged by monopolistic giants, dismissing Live Nation’s whining about a supposed political agenda.