A long-awaited antitrust lawsuit targeting Live Nation Entertainment by the Department of Justice is coming as soon as next month, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal published late Monday. The antitrust challenge, if successful, could dramatically reshape the live event and ticketing landscape, which has been dominated by Live Nation/Ticketmaster since the two companies merged in 2010.

Per WSJ:

The agency is preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit against the Ticketmaster parent in the coming weeks that would allege the nation’s biggest concert promoter has leveraged its dominance in a way that undermined competition for ticketing live events, according to people familiar with the matter.

Specific charges against Live Nation and Ticketmaster were not determined, but the companies have been consistently accused of multiple anticompetitive business practices from the start of their tie-up. In 2019, the corporation agreed to refine and extend a 2010 consent decree regarding certain business practices, after it was determined that the company regularly violated the decree by threatening companies who did not use Ticketmaster that shows would not be booked at their venues.

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Despite the appointment of an independent law firm to monitor compliance and an anti-retaliation clause that includes a $1 million penalty for any violation, Live Nation has continued to be dogged by allegations of abusing its market power to inflate prices and harm competitors in the five years since.

In one notable example, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY flipped to SeatGeek as its ticketing vendor in 2021, only to flip right back a year later – a move many contend was due to the promotional giant withholding high-profile tours from Brooklyn – sending them instead to UBS Arena further east of the city, which is a Ticketmaster building.

FURTHER READING | NY’s Barclays Center Abruptly Drops SeatGeek for Ticketmaster

Clamor for action by consumers reached something of a fever pitch coming out of the widely covered debacle that was the Taylor Swift Eras Tour ticket sales process in the fall of 2022, which saw Ticketmaster suffer repeated crashes of its system while fans tried in vain to purchase tickets for the blockbuster tour’s first leg of North American shows. That failure, which the company has attempted to say was fueled by “bots” crashing its systems despite the use of its reviled “verified fan” gatekeeping program, saw widespread outrage from both the public and lawmakers, including a high profile hearing before a senate subcommittee early in 2023.

The DOJ has been investigating the company over these repeated claims since at least the middle of 2023, though Ticketmaster and Live Nation continue to say that they operate above-board and that the woes of consumers in ticketing are driven entirely by ticket resale rather than its own allegedly monopolistic control of the industry.

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FURTHER READING | Justice Department Has Opened an Anti-Trust Investigation of Live Nation

“Ticketmaster has more competition today than it has ever had, and the deal terms with venues show it has nothing close to monopoly power,” a Ticketmaster spokeswoman said in a statement released to the WSJ.

Live Nation EVP and antitrust czar Dan Wall defended the company’s stranglehold on the largest venues in the country by pointing out that the ticketing business covers more than just massive stadiums and arenas in the biggest markets (which Live Nation and Ticketmaster reportedly hold more than 80% of the market in North America). “If you have to hone in on one slice of the market in order to allege a monopoly, then there isn’t one,” he said.