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Biden's DOJ and 29 States Sue Live Nation Nearly Two Years After Taylor Swift Ticketmaster Debacle

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Almost two years after demand for Taylor Swift tickets led to mayhem on Ticketmaster and anger among a horde of Swifties, the federal government has filed a lawsuit against Ticketmaster’s parent company.

On Thursday, the Department of Justice, joined by 29 states and the District of Columbia, sued Ticketmaster owner Live Nation Entertainment, calling it a monopoly on live events.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, calls for “the divestiture of, at minimum, Ticketmaster,” according to The New York Times.

“It is time for fans and artists to stop paying the price for Live Nation’s monopoly,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said. “It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster. The American people are ready for it.”

“Live Nation has its tentacles in virtually every aspect of the live entertainment industry,” the federal government said in a complaint, which runs over 120 pages.

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Ticketmaster became the target of Swift fans in November 2022, when the demand for tickets overloaded the company’s system, with some fans dropping from ticket queues while others found that bots had beaten them to the scarce tickets.

In reporting on the lawsuit, Rolling Stone has honed in on fees consumers pay, citing sections of the complaint that said  “intermediaries” who benefit from fees, such as concert venues and promoters, “are often Live Nation-owned entities.”

As the money flows, “a significant proportion of the venue’s share” in the ticket fee is “often passed onto promoters, like Live Nation, to incentivize them to steer content to their venue,” the government’s complaint said.

Is this lawsuit necessary?

“In other words, Live Nation’s various contracts operate together to drive up the overall number and size of fees paid by fans.”

Rolling Stone noted one piece of the complaint that cited a “ticketing” fee that allegedly enables Ticketmaster to take in more money when venues “increase their own fees to offset Live Nation’s concert promotion charges.”

Calling this practice a “double dip,” the government complaint said it “means venues have to raise fan-paid fees just to offset Live Nation’s promotion charges. For example, a venue forced to pay Live Nation a $5 promotions rebate and Ticketmaster a portion of any increased fees would need to raise fees on fans by significantly more than $5 to break even.”

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Live Nation rakes in $22 billion a year in revenue through the more than 265 concert venues it owns or controls in North America, according to USA Today.

The lawsuit said through such things as its fees, which it calls “essentially a ‘Ticketmaster Tax’ that ultimately raise the price fans pay,” fans, artists, small promoters and venue operators all lose.

In one example, fees for a 2022 Red Hot Chili Peppers show in Charlotte, North Carolina, added 36 percent to the $81.50 cost of a ticket.

“Since Ticketmaster’s Taylor Swift ticketing debacle in 2022, my AG colleagues and I have relentlessly sought justice for Americans wanting to attend concerts without having their pocketbooks pillaged by Live Nation’s monopoly,” Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said in a statement, per USA Today.

Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and Garth Brooks also have criticized Ticketmaster.

The federal government’s lawsuit reflects the bipartisan disgust with Live Nation shown at a January 2023 congressional hearing on the subject.

Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, was even more blunt.

“The way your company handled the ticket sales with Ms. Swift was a debacle,” Kennedy said, according to The New York Times.

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri noted Ticketmaster’s tentacles are in the resale market as well “where you’re forcing everyone in the resale market to come into your ecosystem.”

“This is how monopolies work. You leverage market power in one market to get market power in another market — and it looks like you’re doing that in, frankly, multiple markets,” Hawley said.

“This is all the definition of monopoly,” Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said. “Live Nation is so powerful that it doesn’t even need to exert pressure. It doesn’t need to threaten. Because people just fall in line.”

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut noted to Live Nation executive Joe Berchtold that disgust with Live Nation created a rare phenomenon.

“I want to congratulate and thank you for an absolutely stunning achievement,” Blumenthal said. “You have brought together Republicans and Democrats in an absolutely unified cause.”

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Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack can be reached at jackwritings1@gmail.com.
Location
New York City
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Foreign Policy, Military & Defense Issues




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