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US Justice Department Takes on Live Nation-Ticketmaster Monopoly

Quiver Editor

The U.S. Justice Department and a coalition of 30 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit on Thursday to dismantle Live Nation and its Ticketmaster unit, alleging that the concert promoter has illegally inflated ticket prices and stifled competition. This legal action highlights the Biden administration's aggressive antitrust stance, targeting monopolistic practices across various industries.

"It is time to break up Live Nation,” stated U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. The lawsuit claims that Live Nation's control over the live events industry has resulted in higher prices for fans, fewer opportunities for artists, and a squeeze on smaller promoters. This move follows years of complaints from concertgoers and politicians, particularly after Ticketmaster's botched handling of Taylor Swift's concert ticket sales in 2022, which left fans in long online queues and facing exorbitant prices.

Market Overview:
  • Live Nation (LYV) plummets 5% after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) sues to break up its merger with Ticketmaster.
Key Points:
  • The DOJ alleges Live Nation's dominance stifles competition, inflates ticket prices, and disadvantages artists and fans.
  • The lawsuit highlights Live Nation's control across artist management, concert promotion, and ticketing infrastructure.
  • Live Nation maintains its practices are legal and blames competitors for the DOJ's action.
Looking Ahead:
  • Live Nation is expected to contest the antitrust accusations, potentially leading to a lengthy court battle.
  • The lawsuit casts a shadow over the 2010 merger and could disrupt operations for both companies.
  • Increased scrutiny of mergers and potential antitrust violations within the entertainment industry is likely.

The lawsuit argues that Live Nation, which directly manages over 400 musical artists and controls about 60% of concert promotions at major venues, has used its dominant position to maintain monopolistic control. Ticketmaster, a subsidiary of Live Nation, reportedly controls around 80% of primary ticket sales for major concerts in North America. The DOJ's filing in the Southern District of New York details how Live Nation and Ticketmaster have embedded themselves at every level of the live music ecosystem, from ticketing to venue management.

Live Nation's shares fell 5% following the announcement. The company responded by calling the lawsuit a potential "PR win for the DOJ in the short term," but expressed confidence in prevailing in court. Live Nation asserted that there is more competition in the live events market than ever and that the lawsuit would not address fans' concerns about ticket prices and access to popular shows. Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar supported the lawsuit, emphasizing the need for additional congressional action to regulate ticket sales and prevent bots from buying large blocks of tickets.

About the Author

David Love is an editor at Quiver Quantitative, with a focus on global markets and breaking news. Prior to joining Quiver, David was the CEO of Winter Haven Capital.

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