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Attorney General William Tong


Attorney General Tong, Department of Justice, States Announce Suit Against Ticketmaster-Live Nation for Monopolizing Markets Across the Live Concert Industry

Ticketmaster-Live Nation’s Exclusionary Conduct and Dominance Across the Live Concert Ecosystem Harms Fans, Innovation, Artists, and Venues

(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong, the Justice Department, and attorneys general from 29 other states and the District of Columbia today filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against Ticketmaster LLC and its parent company Live Nation Entertainment Inc. for monopolization and other unlawful conduct that thwarts competition in markets across the live entertainment industry. The lawsuit, which includes a request for structural relief, seeks to restore competition in the live concert industry, provide better choices at lower prices for fans, and open venue doors for working musicians and other performance artists.

The complaint, filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges that Ticketmaster-Live Nation unlawfully exercises its monopoly power in violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act. As a result of its conduct, music fans in the United States are deprived of ticketing innovation and forced to use outdated technology while paying more for tickets than fans in other countries. At the same time, Ticketmaster- Live Nation exercises its power over performers, venues, and independent promoters in ways that harm competition. Ticketmaster- Live Nation also imposes barriers to competition that limit the entry and expansion of its rivals.

The lawsuit asks the court to restore competition in the live entertainment industry by ordering Live Nation to divest Ticketmaster and prohibiting Live Nation from engaging in its anticompetitive practices.

“Ticketmaster-Live Nation is an unavoidable behemoth for fans, artists and venues. For anyone—like me—who waited hours in an interminable online queue and still failed to get Taylor Swift tickets—their market dominance has been an utter failure. Our investigation has amassed evidence of systematic, unlawful anticompetitive conduct designed to extract maximum control over every level of the live event industry. For all of us fans, that has meant lousy customer service and escalating costs and junk fees. For artists, it has meant fewer opportunities to perform, and less control over how and where they tour. Our bipartisan complaint seeks to restore free and fair competition to the live event ticketing industry by forcing Live Nation to sell off Ticketmaster and cease their abusive, anticompetitive practices,” said Attorney General Tong.

“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,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “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.”

“The live music industry in America is broken because Live Nation-Ticketmaster has an illegal monopoly,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Our antitrust lawsuit seeks to break up the Live-Nation-Ticketmaster monopoly, which will restore competition to the benefit of fans and artists alike.”

According to the complaint, Ticketmaster-Live Nation has unlawfully maintained monopolies in several concert promotions and primary ticketing markets and engaged in other exclusionary conduct affecting live concert venues, including arenas and amphitheaters. The complaint further alleges that Ticketmaster- Live Nation’s exclusionary practices fortify and protect what it refers to as its “flywheel.” The flywheel is Ticketmaster-Live Nation’s self-reinforcing business model that captures fees and revenue from concert fans and sponsorship, uses that revenue to lock up artists to exclusive promotion deals, and then uses its powerful cache of live content to sign venues into long term exclusive ticketing deals, thereby starting the cycle all over again. Ticketmaster-Live Nation’s anticompetitive conduct creates even more barriers for rivals to compete on the merits. Specifically, Ticketmaster-Live Nation engaged in a variety of tactics to eliminate competition and monopolize markets:

Relationship with Oak View Group: Ticketmaster-Live Nation exploits its longtime relationship with Oak View Group, a potential competitor-turned-partner that has described itself as a “hammer” and “protect[or]” for Live Nation. In recent years, Oak View Group has avoided bidding against Live Nation for artist talent and influenced venues to sign exclusive agreements with Ticketmaster. For example, Live Nation has scolded Oak View Group multiple times for trying to compete. In one instance, Live Nation asked, “who would be so stupid to . . . play into [an artist agent’s] arms,” and on another occasion, Live Nation stated, “let’s make sure we don’t let [the artist agency] now start playing us off.”
Retaliating Against Potential Entrants: Ticketmaster-Live Nation successfully threatened financial retaliation against a firm unless it stopped one of its subsidiaries from competing to gain a foothold in the U.S. concert promotions market.
Threatening and Retaliating Against Venues that Work with Rivals: Ticketmaster-Live Nation’s power in concert promotions means that every live concert venue knows choosing another promoter or ticketer comes with a risk of drawing an adverse reaction from Ticketmaster-Live Nation that would result in losing concerts, revenue, and fans.
Locking Out Competition with Exclusionary Contracts: Ticketmaster-Live Nation locks concert venues into long-term exclusive contracts so that venues cannot consider or choose rival ticketers or switch to better or more cost-effective ticketing technology. These contracts allow Ticketmaster-Live Nation to reduce competitive pressure to improve its own ticketing technology and customer service.
Blocking Venues from Using Multiple Ticketers: Ticketmaster-Live Nation’s conduct and exclusive contracts prevent new and different promotions and ticketing competitors and business models from emerging. They block venues from being able to use multiple ticketers, who would compete by offering the best mix of prices, fees, quality, and innovation to fans.
Restricting Artists’ Access to Venues: Ticketmaster-Live Nation has increasingly gained control of key venues, including amphitheaters, through acquisitions, partnerships, and agreements. Ticketmaster-Live Nation restricts artists’ use of those venues unless those artists also agree to use their promotion services.
Acquiring Competitors and Competitive Threats: Ticketmaster-Live Nation strategically acquired a number of smaller and regional promoters that it had internally identified as threats. This has undermined competition and impacted artist compensation.

Live Nation Entertainment Inc. is a Delaware corporation headquartered in Beverly Hills, California. It describes itself as the “largest live entertainment company in the world,” the “largest producer of live music concerts in the world,” and “the world’s leading live entertainment ticketing sales and marketing company.” Live Nation also owns or controls more than 265 concert venues in North America, including more than 60 of the top 100 amphitheaters in the United States. It generates over $22 billion globally in annual revenue from three business segments: concerts (e.g., promotions, venue management, and music festival production), ticketing (e.g., Ticketmaster business), and sponsorship and advertising.

Ticketmaster L.L.C. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Live Nation. It is a Virginia limited liability company with headquarters in Beverly Hills, California. Ticketmaster sells concert tickets to fans when those tickets first go on sale and operates resale platforms that enable purchasers to resell those tickets at a later time. Ticketmaster is by far the largest concert ticketing company in the United States, multiple times the size of its closest competitor.

Connecticut is on the executive committee of states leading this bipartisan complaint, along with the District of Columbia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, California, Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming also joined the complaint.

Assistant Attorneys General Kim McGee and Rahul Dawar and Deputy Associate Attorney General Nicole Demers, Chief of the Antitrust Section, are assisting the Attorney General in this matter.

Twitter: @AGWilliamTong
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