U.S. Government Sues to Split Up Live Nation and Ticketmaster


The United States Department of Justice, along with 30 state attorneys general, has filed a lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment, the parent company of Ticketmaster, accusing it of monopolistic practices.

Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in 2010, forming a dominant entity that oversees most ticket sales and venue bookings across the U.S. However, the disastrous ticket-buying experience for Taylor Swift’s Eras tour in late 2022 prompted lawmakers to scrutinize the company’s industry control more closely. The presale was plagued with glitches and long wait times, and the public sale was canceled due to overwhelming traffic.

“Live Nation smothers its competition through various tactics, including acquiring smaller regional promoters and venues, imposing threats and retaliation, and making deals with rivals,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland stated during a press conference on Thursday.

The issue extends beyond just Swift’s fans; her widespread popularity has highlighted broader discontent with Live Nation-Ticketmaster. From punk bands to podcast hosts, many have had negative experiences with Ticketmaster. In April, when tickets for the Dungeons & Dragons actual play show Dimension 20 went on sale for a Madison Square Garden performance, Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing drove ticket costs sky-high, making them unaffordable for most fans. Dropout, the company behind Dimension 20, later said that dynamic pricing — which raises ticket prices based on demand — was not disclosed to them beforehand.

Live Nation’s Executive Vice President Dan Wall issued a statement in response to the Department of Justice’s allegations.

“The complaint—and even more so the press conference announcing it—tries to depict Live Nation and Ticketmaster as the main culprits of fan frustration in the live entertainment industry,” the statement reads. “It blames concert promoters and ticketing companies, neither of which set ticket prices, for high ticket costs. It overlooks the real factors driving up ticket prices, including increasing production costs, artist popularity, and 24/7 online ticket scalping that shows the public’s willingness to pay much more than the primary ticket price.”

Wall further compares Ticketmaster’s 5% take rate with that of companies like Twitch (50%), StubHub (37%), Uber (25%), and several others. However, with the exception of StubHub—a resale platform—these comparisons are not entirely analogous. Ticketmaster also imposes various service fees that exceed 5%. The reality is that it’s challenging for new companies to break into the industry, as most American venues have contracts with Live Nation.

Garland points out that public frustration with Live Nation’s alleged monopolistic practices is particularly pronounced in the U.S. compared to other countries.

“In other countries, where venues aren’t tied to Ticketmaster’s exclusive ticketing contracts, multiple ticketing companies are often used for the same event, resulting in lower fees and more innovative ticketing solutions,” Garland explained.

Amanda Silberling
Amanda Silberling
Amanda Silberling covers social media and consumer tech. She has written about internet culture for Polygon, MTV, Business Insider, NPR, and the AV Club, and she co-hosts Wow If True, a podcast about going viral. Previously, she was a grassroots organizer, museum educator, and film festival coordinator. Based in Philadelphia, she holds a B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania.

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