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DOJ Sues to Break Up Live Nation, Ticketmaster to Lower Prices

The lawsuit claims Live Nation and its subsidiary Ticketmaster abuse market power to overcharge consumers, including at Barclays Center.
Barclays Center

New York Attorney General Letitia James, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and a coalition of attorneys general on Thursday sued Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. (Live Nation) and its subsidiary Ticketmaster for monopolizing the live events industry and harming consumers, artists, venues and competitors.

The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, alleges that Live Nation controls almost every aspect of live events from promotions to venues and ticket sales, and abuses its market dominance to overcharge consumers, limit artists’ ability to perform at different venues, and restrict venues not owned by Live Nation from working with other ticketing vendors, according to a news release. 

“For too long, Live Nation and Ticketmaster have unfairly and illegally run the world of live events, abusing their dominance to overcharge fans, bully venues, and limit artists,” said James. “When companies like Live Nation control every aspect of an event, it leads to bad blood – concertgoers and sports fans suffer and are forced to pay cruel prices."

Live Nation is a live entertainment company that owns, operates, or has exclusive booking rights for hundreds of venues nationwide, including Barclays Center and the Coney Island Ampitheater in Brooklyn, as well as Madison Square Garden, Radio City Hall and other venues across the state.

The lawsuit alleges that Live Nation forces venues to sign long-term exclusive ticketing contracts with its subsidiary Ticketmaster or risk losing lucrative Live Nation concerts. Over the years Live Nation has increased its fees when working with venues, which then can be passed on to consumers, the DOJ said.

By bullying venues into exclusive long-term contracts with its subsidiaries and acquiring competitors, Live Nation’s anticompetitive conduct has raised costs and difficulties for fans and placed unfair burdens onto artists, venues, and other competitors, the news release said.

Attorney General James, the DOJ, and the coalition argue that due to Live Nation anticompetitive conduct fans have paid more fees, artists have had fewer opportunities to play concerts and venues have less options for obtaining concerts and ticketing services. The coalition would like to break up the monoply and seeks civil penalties from the companies to stop their anticompetitive conduct.

In response, Dan Wall, executive vice president of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs at Live Nation said in a statement that higher ticket prices are partly due to rising production costs, artist popularity, and 24/7 online ticket scalping that reveals the public’s willingness to pay far more than primary ticket prices. 

Wall said it is "obsurd" to claim that Live Nation and Ticketmaster wield monopoly power.