Company is being investigated over antitrust concerns

The US Justice Department is said have opened an antitrust investigation into Live Nation over concerns the company has abused its power. Two anonymous people with knowledge of the matter tell The New York Times that the investigation will focus on whether Live Nation Entertainment maintains a monopoly over the multi-billion dollar industry.

The Times reports that music venues and key people in the ticketing industry have been asked about Live Nation’s practices and wider dynamics by staff members of the Justice Department’s antitrust division. The inquiry appears to be broad, as of press time, but neither Live Nation nor the Justice Department would confirm the report.

The two companies, which merged in 2010, have been under the microscope in recent years due to their practices. This week, Taylor Swift fans crashed Ticketmaster’s system during the Verified Fan presale for her upcoming 52 date The Eras Tour. Yesterday (Thurs, Nov 17th), the company sparked fan outrage after it canceled the public on sale, set for today, due to “extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory.”

Ticketmaster also issued a lengthy statement about the crash (which has since been removed from their website), blaming an influx of real fans trying to secure tickets and bots as the culprits. The company says 1.5 million Verified Fans were sent codes for the on sale, but received 3.5 billion total system requests which is four times more than the previous week.

On Friday (Nov 18th), Swift spoke out about the debacle on Instagram. “I’m not going going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple time, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could. It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.”

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti says he’s launching an investigation into the company’s practices after the Taylor Swift ticketing debacle.

In July, US Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. of New Jersey launched an investigation for its dynamic “supply and demand” pricing strategy and junk fees. In September, Pascrell sent a letter to Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino demanding the company be “more transparent and fair with its pricing strategies after Ticketmaster confirmed their dynamic pricing is based on supply and demand.”

The White House also recently announced it’s moving closer to federally mandating the end of “junk fees” or “convenience fees” not being disclosed before the start of purchase. They’re pursuing an all-inclusive ticketing model across the board.

The Justice Department approved the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger in 2010, despite opposition from the music industry. The government required Live Nation to sell some parts of its business and reached a ten year legal settlement that forbade Live Nation from threatening venues with losing tour access if they used another ticketing company.

In 2019, the Justice Department ruled that Live Nation violated those terms and extended the deal until 2025. They also adjusted some of the agreement’s language to clarify ticketing deals with venues.