The Department of Justice has an open investigation regarding Live Nation Entertainment, according to sources of the New York Times. The investigation is focused on whether or not Ticketmaster’s parent company “has abused its power over the multibillion-dollar live music industry,” according to the newspaper.

News comes amid a staggeringly bad news week for the entertainment giant, as fans and politicians have openly called for the companies to be broken up in the wake of a disastrous stretch as Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour for 2023 has gone on sale. The investigation, however, pre-dates this week’s drama.

Staff members at the agency’s antitrust division have in recent months contacted music venues and players in the ticket market, asking about Live Nation’s practices and the wider dynamics of the industry, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is sensitive. The inquiry appears to be broad, looking at whether the company maintains a monopoly over the industry, said one of the people.

In the immediate aftermath of the NYT story breaking on Friday afternoon, Live Nation Entertainment stock (NYSE: LYV) took a sharp drop, falling from $72.30 a share down to as low as $65.27 a share, though it has rebounded slightly to $67.04 a share as of 2 p.m. Friday.

A coalition of consumer rights organizations have been pushing hard for the DOJ to investigate Ticketmaster and Live Nation’s merger since earlier this fall, and the Taylor Swift debacle helped supercharge their campaign as “Swifties” were burned by the failures of the ticketing system. While more than 12,000 people had signed on to the campaign’s efforts to request an investigation by the beginning of last week, the campaign had more than three times that amount of signatures, passing 40,000 on Friday afternoon.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – one of the many politicians to put Ticketmaster/Live Nation on blast this week – shared the link to the campaign through her Twitter feed on Thursday night, right about the time that Ticketmaster announced there would be no general public sale for Taylor Swift tickets.

While news of the investigation was celebrated by those who have pushed for one, it should be noted that the Department of Justice has previously investigated Ticketmaster/Live Nation on anti-trust grounds within the last five years, only to hit the company with a slap on the wrist. After bombshell allegations from competing companies that Ticketmaster and Live Nation had violated the terms of a 2010 consent decree that set out rules for how the combined companies would have to behave, the DOJ investigated and found numerous instances of behavior that violated the terms of the agreement. But all the entertainment giant got for the violations were some fines and an extension of the decree, which is still in effect to this day.

Neither Ticketmaster or Live Nation, nor the Department of Justice had provided any comment to the New York Times as of Friday afternoon.

Last Updated on November 18, 2022