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Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks on Lawsuit Against Live Nation-Ticketmaster for Monopolizing Markets Across the Live Concert Industry


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as Delivered

Good morning.

Earlier today, the Department of Justice, joined by 29 states and the District of Columbia, sued Live Nation Entertainment and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Ticketmaster, for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act.

In recent years, Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s exorbitant fees and technological failures have been criticized by fans and artists alike. 

But we are not here today because Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s conduct is inconvenient or frustrating. We are here because, as we allege, that conduct is anticompetitive and illegal. 

Our complaint makes clear what happens when a monopolist dedicates its resources to entrenching its monopoly power and insulating itself from competition rather than investing in better products and services.

We allege that Live Nation has illegally monopolized markets across the live concert industry in the United States for far too long. It is time to break it up.

Live Nation-Ticketmaster has made itself ubiquitous in the live entertainment industry. 

It controls at least 80% of primary ticketing at major concert venues.  

It directly manages more than 400 artists and controls more than 60% of concert promotions across the country.  

And it owns or controls more than 60% of large amphitheaters in the United States. 

We allege that, to sustain this dominance, Live Nation relies on unlawful, anticompetitive conduct to exercise its monopolistic control over the live events industry in the United States and over the fans, artists, independent promoters, and venues that power the industry.

The result is that fans pay more in fees. Artists have fewer opportunities to play concerts. Smaller promoters get squeezed out. And venues have fewer real choices for ticketing services.

As detailed in our complaint, Live Master LiveNation-Ticketmaster locks out competition in ticketing through the use of long-term, exclusive ticketing contracts with venues that can last over a decade as well as by acquiring venues themselves. 

With exclusive agreements that cover more than 70% of concert ticket sales at major concert venues across the country, Ticketmaster can impose a seemingly endless list of fees on fans. Those include ticketing fees, service fees, convenience fees, Platinum fees, Pricemaster fees, per order fees, handling fees, and payment processing fees, among others. 

For fans in the United States, this illegal conduct means higher prices. In other countries, where venues are not bound by Ticketmaster’s exclusive ticketing contracts, venues often use multiple ticketing companies for the same event. And fans see lower fees and more innovative ticketing products as a result.

We also allege that Live Nation-Ticketmaster uses these long-term ticketing agreements with venues, and its control over those venues, to unlawfully pressure artists into agreeing to use its promotion services. 

In fact, Live Nation often sacrifices profits it could earn as a venue owner by letting its venues sit empty, rather than opening them to artists who do not use Live Nation promotion services even during peak concert season.

Live Nation has not only deployed anticompetitive tactics to coerce artists and venues into using its services and to charge fans excessive fees it has also worked strategically, and illegally, to eliminate the threat of potential rivals from emerging across any of its businesses.

As detailed in our complaint, Live Nation suffocates its competition using a variety of tactics: from acquisitions of smaller, regional promoters and venues, to threats and retaliation, to agreements with rivals designed to neutralize them. 

This has included acquiring or co-opting key independent promoters, even when the economics of a particular deal did not make sense for Live Nation’s promotions business. 

For example, as recounted in our complaint, Live Nation acquired a controlling stake in AC Entertainment, an independent promoter in Tennessee. Live Nation’s chief strategy officer assured executives that, even though “the numbers are not super exciting and this feels like more of a defensive move,” the acquisition helped “grow[ ] our moat in the [Nashville] market.”

When faced with another potential competitor to its promotions business, Live Nation took action to ensure that that competitor would not threaten its dominance in the live music industry. 

Live Nation initially categorized that competitor, the venue operator Oak View Group, as one of its “Biggest Competitor Threats.” Over time, however, Oak View and Live Nation morphed from competitors into partners.

As detailed in our complaint, Live Nation executives repeatedly scolded Oak View for trying to compete. In one instance in 2016, Live Nation’s CEO warned Oak View that competition would only lead to artists demanding more compensation. The Live Nation CEO emailed Oak View, writing: “Let’s make sure we don’t let [them] now start playing us off,” referring to a prominent artist agency. Oak View backed down.

In a similar instance in 2022, Live Nation’s CEO scolded Oak View’s CEO: “who would be so stupid to do this and play into [the artist agent’s] arms”?

Oak View again backed down: “We have never promoted without you. Won’t,” said its CEO. And later added “I never want to be competitors.”  

We also allege that Live Nation has repeatedly wielded its powers to keep its rivals from expanding in the U.S. concert promotions market through threats and retaliation. In 2021, Live Nation threatened to retaliate against private equity firm Silver Lake, unless one of the latter’s portfolio companies, Teg, stopped competing with Live Nation for artist promotion contracts in the United States.

Live Nation’s CEO told Silver Lake that, he “fail[ed] to understand” why Silver Lake “continue[d] to invest in a business that competes with Live Nation.”

The threats ultimately succeeded, and Silver Lake has tried to sell Teg altogether.

We allege that Live Nation does not maintain its dominance in the live entertainment industry by staying ahead of its competition on the merits. It does so by unlawfully eliminating its competition.  

We allege that Live Nation controls the live entertainment industry in the United States because it is breaking the law. 

I am grateful to the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division for their excellent work on this case. The live entertainment industry is complex and well [re]sourced. Taking on this case has required persistence and diligence by the antitrust lawyers who are behind me today and by their team. I am proud to work with them.

People always remember the first time that they were transformed by live music. I still remember, as a senior in college, going to a Bonnie Raitt concert and seeing a then up-and-coming musician named Bruce Springsteen, play as a warm-up act. We all knew that we had just seen the future of rock and roll.

The Justice Department filed this lawsuit on behalf of fans, who should be able to go to concerts without a monopoly standing in their way. 

We have filed this lawsuit on behalf of artists, who should be able to plan their tours around their fans, and not be dictated by an unlawful monopolist.

We have filed this lawsuit on behalf of the independent promoters and venues, which should be able to compete on a level playing field.

And we have filed this lawsuit on behalf of the American people.

It is time for fans and artists to stop paying the price for Live Nation’s monopoly.

It is time to restore competition and innovation in the entertainment industry.

It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster.

The American people are ready for it.

Updated May 23, 2024