Live Nation Entertainment and Ticketmaster LLC have officially been targeted by a lawsuit alleging antitrust violations, filed on Thursday morning in a New York federal court. The lawsuit has been filed by the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, with 29 states plus the District of Columbia also joining as plaintiffs.

Filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the lawsuit is a more than 100 page document, and includes a deep-dive into the live entertainment business, and claims that the Live Nation/Ticketmaster business model violates both federal and state laws in multiple ways.

“We allege that Live Nation relies on unlawful, anticompetitive conduct to exercise its monopolistic control over the live events industry in the United States at the cost of fans, artists, smaller promoters, and venue operators,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The result is that fans pay more in fees, artists have fewer opportunities to play concerts, smaller promoters get squeezed out, and venues have fewer real choices for ticketing services. It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster.”

Also included in the lawsuit are allegations that Oak View Group, co-founded by former Ticketmaster boss Irving Azoff, has bolstered the alleged monopolistic action through having it warn venues that they will lose Live Nation content if they do not use Ticketmaster.

It asks that the courts for multiple actions to be taken if its more than 27 “claims for relief” are deemed to be valid.

It requests

  • The divestiture of, at minimum, Ticketmaster
  • The termination of Live Nation’s ticketing agreement with Oak View Group
  • Enjoinment of Live nation from further engagement of any of the anticompetitive practices described in the lawsuit
  • Any other preliminary or permanent relief “necessary and appropriate to restore competitive conditions in the markets affected by Live Nation’s unlawful conduct”
  • Awarding of each plaintiff costs and attorneys fees incurred in bringing this action.

The full document is available here (PDF opens in new window). USA vs. Live Nation Entertainment

Live Nation has released a statement in response to the lawsuit, implying that it is more of a public relations effort than something that would bring meaningful improvement to the ticket-buying consumer.

“The DOJ’s lawsuit won’t solve the issues fans care about relating to ticket prices, service fees, and access to in-demand shows,” the statement reads. “Calling Ticketmaster a monopoly may be a PR win for the DOJ in the short term, but it will lose in court because it ignores the basic economics of live entertainment, such as the fact that the bulk of service fees go to venues, and that competition has steadily eroded Ticketmaster’s market share and profit margin. Our growth comes from helping artists tour globally, creating lasting memories for millions of fans, and supporting local economies across the country by sustaining quality jobs. We will defend against these baseless allegations, use this opportunity to shed light on the industry, and continue to push for reforms that truly protect consumers and artists.”

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TicketNews will provide further analysis after we have some time to digest this enormous document.

Two prominent Live Nation Entertainment critics have already spoken out in favor of the lawsuit, with Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) issuing statements Wednesday upon reports that the lawsuit was coming this week.

“I have long advocated for robust competition in live events ticketing markets and I called on the Justice Department to investigate the state of competition in the live entertainment industry, including anticompetitive and anti-consumer actions by Live Nation,” says Sen. Klobuchar. “Our hearing last year provided important evidence of the impact of Live Nation’s monopoly on fans, artists, venues, and other ticketing platforms for the Justice Department to use in its case. If the reports are correct, the Justice Department is doing the right thing by bringing this suit against Live Nation. This is about ensuring fair treatment for fans everywhere and reinvigorating competition in ticketing markets.”

Rep. Pascrell, who has been a strong critic of the merged companies since before the merger was approved, and is the author of the BOSS and SWIFT Act, added this:

“This news is a victory for the millions of American fans who have been taken advantage of, screwed, ripped off, and outright robbed by this corrupt and greedy entity,” said Congressman Pascrell. “Assistant Attorney General Kantor and FTC Chairwoman Khan have today commenced one of the most fan-friendly moves by our federal government in many years. It is a new day for consumers in America. Live Nation and Ticketmaster should never have been allowed to merge. I beseeched the Obama administration to block it and have spent the last 15 years trying to right that wrong. If ever a company has been a corporate embodiment of Darth Vader and Lord Voldemort coming together it is Live Nation-Ticketmaster. Whether you are a sports fan or a music fan, a Swiftie or a Springsteen nut, a Deadhead or a member of the BTS Army, this news should make you rejoice because it can improve your quality of life and save you money.”

Pascrell concluded, “I won’t be surprised if Ticketmaster rolls out some of their popular clients to sing a sweet tune about a misunderstood company. These artists make a nice living thanks in part to their anticompetitive partner. But long-suffering fans know the truth. And with this news I hope that the countless musicians, crewmembers, venue operators, promoters, and other industry stakeholders who have lived in fear of this abusive behemoth can finally start to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that more competition is on the way.”