“An investigation alone does nothing for the stakeholders already harmed by Live Nation’s market dominance and seemingly ongoing anticompetitive behavior,” the senators wrote.
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Following the disastrous launch of ticket sales for the Taylor Swift Eras Tour, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to hold Ticketmaster-Live Nation Entertainment Inc. accountable for anticompetitive behavior and investigate the state of competition in the market for live entertainment. While the senators welcomed the news that DOJ is reportedly taking steps to investigate the company for possible antitrust violations, the group urged the Department to protect consumers, artists, and venue operators by considering the strongest possible remedies, including the breakup of the Ticketmaster and Live Nation merger, if misconduct is found.
“If the investigation reveals that Live Nation has continued to abuse its dominant market position notwithstanding two prior consent decrees, we urge the Department to consider unwinding the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger and breaking up the company,” the senators wrote. “This may be the only way to truly protect consumers, artists, and venue operators and to restore competition in the ticketing market.”
After last week’s launch of pre-sale ticket orders for Taylor Swift’s first tour in 4 years, fans encountered site crashes, hours long wait times, fluctuating ticket prices, and other disruptions on the Ticketmaster website. Ticketmaster customers not purchasing tickets to the Taylor Swift tour were also unable to access the site for refunds and ticket purchases. The senators noted that these reports, along with Ticketmaster’s abrupt cancellation of public ticket sales for the tour, suggest that, “the Department’s past enforcement efforts have failed to protect competition.”
Live Nation’s dominant position in the live entertainment and ticketing industry has repeatedly harmed consumers. The company controls about 60% of the market for promotion of major concerts, and tickets for 80 of the top 100 concert venues in the country. These anticompetitive practices have led to Ticketmaster prices more than tripling in the last 20 years, with about 27% of these prices coming from fees alone.
If DOJ’s investigation uncovers antitrust violations or ongoing misconduct, the senators urged the Department to consider unwinding the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger and requiring structural remedies to restore competition and consumer choice in the market.
“Put simply, artists, venues, and consumers should no longer be at the mercy of a single seller. The Department must act to help consumers and the market shake off the effects of this monopoly,” the senators concluded.
The full text of the letter is available here.