After spending a record-shattering amount on lobbying in 2023, Live Nation Entertainment is continuing that trend again in 2024, pouring more than $500,000 into efforts to influence lawmakers amid unprecedented legal and regulatory scrutiny. The California-based entertainment giant spent a record $2.38 million on lobbying at the federal level in 2023, and is on pace to spent similarly in 2024, hitting $520,000 already this year.

Live Nation has already had a far larger budget for lobbying than other entities in the live entertainment space, breaking $1 million for the first tine in 2022 and regularly spending 4x what it was spending as recently as 2019 in recent years as consumer and lawmaker sentiment grew increasingly negative against the company. It was sued by the Department of Justice and states representing more than 80% of the U.S. population on antitrust grounds earlier this year.

“[F]ans 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,” remarked Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, whose lawsuit alleges anticompetitive business practices that violate Section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

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According to Open Secrets, Live Nation has increased the number of lobbyists on its payroll every year since 2018 – reaching 37 a year ago. The overwhelming majority of those lobbyists have previously worked within the government, including Seth Bloom – a longtime general counsel for the Senate antitrust committee that held hearings over the allegations of anticompetitive behavior in early 2023.

Another is Jonathan Becker, former Chief of Staff of Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) , a longtime critic of the company who nevertheless teamed with Sen. Jon Cornyn (R-TX) on the “Fans First” legislation that largely favors Live Nation’s legislative wish list.

READ MORE – Live Nation Lobbying Spend Balloons Amid  Efforts to Kill Competition

In addition to the Fans First Act, Live Nation’s lobbying spend has focused on federal bills that include the TICKET Act, and the BOSS and SWIFT Act. It has indicated its strong support for Fans First directly, while opposing the BOSS and SWIFT Act, which is focused on overall reform of the ticketing industry rather than focusing on regulating ticket resale.

The TICKET Act as written is relatively unanimously agreed-upon among industry businesses (it mandates “all-in” ticket prices at a federal level), and passed the House of Representatives earlier this year. However, the “Fix The Tix” coalition steered by former Ticketmaster CEO and Live Nation chair Irving Azoff has pushed the Senate to amend the TICKET Act to more closely resemble the Fans First legislation before it passes that bill.

READ MORE | Fans First Act Announced – Notably Lacking Fan Support

READ MORE | Sen Klobuchar: One-Sided Fans First Act Demands Further Action

Another bill to see significant Live Nation lobbying expense was the FAA Reauthorization bill, which nominally would not have any impact on the ticketing industry. That is, until Sen. Cornyn attempted to backdoor/trojan-horse the entire FANS FIRST bill as an amendment into the must-pass funding bill for the aviation regulator.

READ MORE – Live Nation-Backed Fans First Act Fails as Trojan Horse Amendment to Must-Pass FAA Funding Bill

Live Nation’s lobbying apparatus is managed by longtime antitrust litigator Dan Wall, who came on as in-house Vice President of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs shortly after the Senate hearing. Wall has largely been behind the company’s public stance in response to the allegations that it operates as an illegal monopoly. That stance is fairly simple – Live Nation does nothing wrong and is not a monopoly, and all of the problems consumers face in ticketing are related to ticket resale being legal.

“At bottom, we are another casualty of this Administration’s decision to turn over antitrust enforcement to a populist urge that simply rejects how antitrust law works,” Wall wrote in response to the Department of Justice lawsuit. “Some call this “Anti-Monopoly”, but in reality it is just anti-business. A central tenet of this worldview is that antitrust should target companies that have grown large enough that in some nebulous way they “dominate” markets—even if they attained their size through success in the marketplace, not practices that harm consumers, which is the actual focus of antitrust laws.”

“One of the most jaw-dropping parts of today’s complaint is the assertion that there are “barriers to entry” because “artists naturally prefer to work with a promoter who is successful in promoting many high-demand shows at popular venues”—namely, Live Nation. That is a supreme expression of competition on the merits, winning by being better. But to this group it’s anticompetitive.”

Beyond the federal spending, Live Nation has an army of lobbyists also working at the state level, pushing its legislative agenda across the country while the push for better consumer protection in ticketing at the federal level appears largely stalled by partisan in-fighting. It is unclear at this time whether or not any significant ticket reform will be possible amid the flurry of spending by the entertainment giant and its allies like Oak View Group that seek to maintain the status quo if not tilt the field even more in their favor while battling the DOJ accusations.