What the Ticketmaster Lawsuit Means for Fans’ Wallets

By: Keith Wagstaff · June 04, 2024 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

DOJ Lawsuit (Taylor’s Version)

Back in 2022, fans eagerly tried to buy tickets for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. Ticketmaster’s system crashed, tickets sold on the secondary market for thousands of dollars, and Swift voiced her frustration on social media.

The debacle led to a Senate hearing, where politicians lambasted an executive from Live Nation (LYV), the parent company of Ticketmaster, for hours.

Last month, the Department of Justice (DOJ), along with 30 state and district attorneys general, announced it was suing Live Nation-Ticketmaster for “monopolization and other unlawful conduct that thwarts competition in markets across the live entertainment industry.”

Bad Blood

The complaint called the company a “monopolist” that “serves as the gatekeeper for the delivery of nearly all live music in America today.”

Indeed, Live Nation-Ticketmaster controls 80% of the ticketing industry and 60% of the concert promotion business, according to the DOJ. It also owns more than 265 music venues in North America, including The Fillmore in San Francisco, Irving Plaza in New York City, and House of Blues locations in multiple cities.

According to the Justice Department, this web of businesses, which the company has called its “flywheel,” allows Live Nation-Ticketmaster to:

•   Pressure artists into using their promotion services or risk losing the ability to play at major venues.

•   Threaten venues that work with other ticketers or promoters with the prospect of losing out on popular acts.

•   Block venues from using multiple ticketing companies.

As a result, the DOJ claimed, consumers are stuck with high prices and exorbitant fees. In a public response to the lawsuit, Live Nation vehemently denied that it wielded monopoly power.

What the Lawsuit Could Mean for Music Fans

If the lawsuit is successful and Live Nation and Ticketmaster are forced to separate, the DOJ said:

•   Venues could use “use multiple ticketers, who would compete by offering the best mix of prices, fees, quality, and innovation to fans.”

•   Music fans, who pay more in concert fees in the U.S. than in many other countries, could save money if competition resulted in lower fees.

•   With serious competitive pressure, Ticketmaster would be incentivized to upgrade its “customer service, website and design, and product quality and stability.”

Live Nation, however, said venues and artists are primarily responsible for rising ticket prices and fees, and claimed it already faced competition from SeatGeek, AXS, and other companies.

Regardless, fans might not see relief from sky-high ticket prices anytime soon, as the lawsuit could take years to resolve. Expensive or not, if live music experiences are what you love, consider creating a budget so you can afford those Taylor Swift tickets the next time she comes to town.

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