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Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter Delivers Remarks on Lawsuit Against Live Nation-Ticketmaster for Monopolizing Markets Across the Live Concert Industry


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Attorney General Garland and Deputy Attorney General Monaco.

The live music industry in America is broken because Live Nation-Ticketmaster abuses its illegal monopoly.

Today, the United States and 30 state and district Attorneys General filed an antitrust lawsuit that seeks to restore competition by breaking up Live Nation-Ticketmaster.

The recipe for live music includes three key ingredients: artists, venues and fans. Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s dominance has allowed it to exert control over all three.

It starts with power over artists. Today, Live Nation-Ticketmaster represents hundreds of artists through its dominant promotions business, which controls the organizing, marketing and financing of live concerts.

Live Nation-Ticketmaster also owns or controls venues at which these concerts are held. For example, it owns 60 of America’s 100 large amphitheaters. At these venues, Live Nation-Ticketmaster not only earns money from tickets and fees, but also from concessions, merchandise, sponsorships and parking.

And through its Ticketmaster subsidiary, Live Nation controls primary ticketing at hundreds of other venues across the country.

It is through these exclusive ticketing arrangements that Americans face the dreaded Ticketmaster Tax: the seemingly endless set of fees ironically named “Service fee” or “convenience fee” when they are anything but.  

Our lawsuit explains through detailed allegations how Live Nation-Ticketmaster weaponized and entrenched its power at the expense of artists and music fans across the country.

Just by way of example, the lawsuit alleges how Live Nation-Ticketmaster sought to avoid expensive bidding wars that would have returned more money to performers. This is bad news for all artists, but it is especially bad news for working musicians who do not have the power to fight back.

Despite its massive size and power, Live Nation-Ticketmaster has acquired even small and regional promoters that Live Nation feared could one day threaten its dominance.

As the complaint also alleges, Live Nation-Ticketmaster threatens and retaliates against venues that try to choose a different promoter or ticketer. If you’re an artist, you understand what’s at stake: use Live Nation for promotion or risk being locked out.

In its own words, Live Nation uses its exclusionary conduct as a “[h]edge against significant improvements by the competition or even a new competitor.”

But the cost of that hedge is one that we all pay: for example, a broken ticketing website with substandard customer service that still captures your valuable data. As Ticketmaster has said, “now [we] not only know the person that bought the ticket, but [also] those three people that you are taking to the show.”

Each of these acts are unlawful on its own – but taken together, they are even worse. Collectively, these practices forge an impenetrable corporate barrier around the live music industry.

With today’s lawsuit, we seek to hold Live Nation-Ticketmaster accountable for violating the antitrust laws.

The legendary songwriter Harlan Howard famously described American music as “three chords and the truth.” This is more than just a clever turn of phrase.

It speaks to the importance of music to free speech and the public discourse. Mr. Howard was right. Words and music come together to create one of our country’s most cherished forms of free expression.

Music is the soundtrack for our lives. As a country, it is how we communicate about politics, love, despair, spirituality, humor, pain, joy and everything in between. It is here, there and everywhere.

Live music should not be available only to those who can afford to pay the Ticketmaster Tax. We are here today to fight for competition so that we can reopen the doors to the live music industry for all.

In closing, I would like to thank the staff the Antitrust Division whose tireless efforts to understand the live entertainment industry and Live Nation’s alleged conduct resulted in today’s filing. I also would like to thank the attorneys general of and terrific staff of: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

They join us today in filing this important and historic case. Thank you.

Updated May 23, 2024