A U.S. Senate subcommittee is demanding answers from Live Nation and Ticketmaster over its business practices and ticket pricing policies, escalating the ongoing inquiries over the entertainment giant’s market share and allegations of monopolistic conduct. The subpoena comes from the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which says it requested documents and information from the companies in March, but has not received a satisfactory reply in the months since.

“Live Nation has egregiously stonewalled my Subcommittee’s inquiry into its abusive consumer practices — making the subpoena necessary,” says Senator Richard Blumenthal, who chairs the committee. “The subpoena demands that the company promptly comply with our request for documents essential to understand its business practices.”

TFL and ATBS for ticketing professionals

“American consumers deserve fair ticket prices, without hidden fees or predatory charges,” the Connecticut senator continued in a tweet. “And the American public deserves to know how Ticketmaster’s unfair practices may be enabled by its misuse of monopoly power.”

Live Nation and its ticketing subsidiary have been the focus of increasing pressure from government officials after months of fan backlash to ever-increasing ticket prices to events across the globe, and failures of the company to deal with the demand for those tickets. Dogged for years by allegations of anti-competitive business practices and subject to a consent decree since the companies merged in 2010 (which was extended in a settlement with the Department of Justice in 2019), the pressure for action has increased exponentially since the messy ticket sales process for the first leg of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour in November of last year.

Since then, Live Nation has faced a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on its practices, lawsuits filed by shareholders, a renewed DOJ inquiry over its practices, and rumors that it will soon be sued by the regulator on anti-trust grounds – all while fans continued to fume over outrageous ticket pricing practices and the company posts record-shattering profit numbers each quarter.

Its standard line of defense against such allegations has been deflection – its business practices aren’t what is causing the miserable ticketing and events experience for consumers – it is the actions of nefarious competition from ticket resales outfits. Its enormous lobbying apparatus, coupled with a parallel push from a coalition of smaller venues and promoters helped by former Ticketmaster head and current Oak View Group chief Irving Azoff, is pushing for legal reforms that would effectively make it the regulator of the ticketing industry, allowing it to declare its own competition unlawful.

In response to the subpoena, Live Nation told reporters that it has provided “extensive information” to the subcommittee over several meetings, disputing Sen. Blumenthal’s characterization of its response. It says it has held back some requested information due to the lack of promise that it would be kept confidential.

“In order to provide additional information requested about artist and client compensation and other similarly sensitive matters, we’ve asked for standard confidentiality measures. Thus far the Subcommittee has refused to provide such assurances, but if and when those protections are in place we will provide additional information on these issues,” a spokesperson said.

TFL and ATBS for ticketing professionals

Sen. Blumenthal has been one of the key movers of new legislation aimed at remedying the consumer ticketing issues at the core of the dispute. He has co-authored legislation that would ban long-term and exclusive contracts between venues and ticketing companies – which are often cited as a key driver of Live Nation/Ticketmaster’s overwhelming market share. He and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island introduced a federal law banning so-called “junk fees”, and he also recently introduced the comprehensive BOSS and SWIFT Act ticket reform bill to the Senate.

So far, all three bills have faced stiff resistance from Live Nation/Ticketmaster’s lobbying apparatus, and have not been brought to a vote.