A pair of consumers have filed a class action lawsuit in California against Live Nation Entertainment and Ticketmaster alleging the entertainment behemoth operates in violation of antitrust laws. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California on behalf of Olivia Van Iderstine and Mitch Oberstein, who believe the California-based company’s behavior unlawfully inflates the prices of tickets for consumers on both the primary and secondary market, according to the complaint.
Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that the Live Nation/Ticketmaster business is dominant in three relevant markets – primary ticketing, secondary ticketing, and concert promotion. Through this domination, they have “engaged in predatory and exclusionary conduct” in the primary ticketing market, which now extends to secondary markets. It claims such conduct has lessened competition unlawfully.
“Defendants’ predatory acts have increased and today threaten the entirety of competition within the primary and secondary ticketing services markets,” the complaints preliminary statement reads, in part. “Michael Rapino, Live Nation Entertainment’s CEO and President, has admitted that artists today make 95% of their income from live music events and that Live Nation is now the ‘largest single financer’ of artists worldwide (more than record companies). Armed as he is with this power over artists’ careers, and fueled by Ticketmaster’s outsized profits, Mr. Rapino has used this position to intimidate the live music industry into using Ticketmaster for primary ticketing services and, more and more, secondary ticketing services. He and the Live Nation monster he has helped create over the past decade plus must be stopped.”
The document (available below as a full PDF) goes into great detail on how Ticketmaster’s business model violates – in its opinion – antitrust laws. It discusses the industry and both Live Nation and Ticketmaster’s business relative to the industry as a whole, and the various synergies and ties that the company relies upon in competing for its clients.
The plaintiffs are represented by Quinn Emmanuel Urqhart & Sullivan, LLP, one of the largest business litigation firms in the world. On at least one occasion, the firm has itself represented Ticketmaster, according to court documents available online.
As of Thursday afternoon, neither Live Nation nor Ticketmaster has publicly addressed the newly filed lawsuit.
The plaintiffs have not put a number on the damages they are asking for in the complaint, but they are asking for damages to be determined, plus punitive damages, treble damages, attorney fees, court costs, and injunctive relief. Perhaps more notably, the complaint asks for declarative relief that the alleged monopolistic behavior violates the laws as alleged.
Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation have been hit with similar complaints before following their 2010 merger. The Department of Justice has pinpointed multiple violations of their 2010 consent decree, which has been extended through 2025 to monitor practices. Most recently, the companies have faced severe backlash regarding ticket refunds for events impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, drawing the ire of U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell and Katie Porter along with lawsuits from angered baseball and concert fans.
Complaint Document (PDF:) Live Nation Accused Of Monopolizing Ticket Sales