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Justice Department to File Antitrust Suit Against Live Nation: Report

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The Justice Department is preparing to sue Live Nation for antitrust violations as soon as next month, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, a move that could change the shape of the multibillion-company that is the world’s largest live entertainment organization and owns Ticketmaster, North America’s biggest ticket vendor.

The antitrust lawsuit would claim that the company “has leveraged its dominance in a way that undermined competition for ticketing live events,” according to people familiar with the matter, although specific details about the claims were not available.

Reps for the DOJ and Live Nation did not immediately respond to Variety‘s requests for comment.

The company has been the subject of such claims since Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in 2010, a move that was challenged but ultimately was allowed by the federal government to move forward. Many have complained that the company’s aggressive business behavior and vertically integrated structure — it has not only concert-promotion and ticketing divisions but also artist management; it also owns venues and their concessions, among other assets — is by nature anticompetitive.

Exorbitant ticket fees and several chaotic concert-tour on-sales — most notably those of Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen in 2022 — along with problems in customer service have led many, including multiple congresspeople, regulators and state attorneys general, to call for the company to be broken up. The New York Times reported that the DOJ had launched an investigation into the company even before the public and government outcry following Ticketmaster’s widely reported problems during the 2022 on-sale for Taylor Swift’s “Eras” tour.

In a blog post on the Live Nation website last month, Dan Wall, the company’s head of corporate affairs, argued that the company is not a monopoly, stating that Ticketmaster does not set prices — artists and their teams do — and the majority of ticketing fees go to venues. While those facts are to varying degrees true, many critics have argued that Live Nation’s claims to be powerless to fix the situation — not to mention its involvement in the secondary ticketing market — are disingenuous at best.  

Despite Ticketmaster spokesperson’s claim that the company faces “more competition today than it has ever had, and the deal terms with venues show it has nothing close to monopoly power,” it holds more than 80% of the market for primary ticket sales in the largest venues in the U.S., as well as exclusive ticketing contracts with many stadiums and arenas .

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