Activist Groups Press Department of Justice to ‘Investigate and Unwind’ the Live Nation-Ticketmaster Merger

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Live Nation and its Ticketmaster subsidiary have long faced criticism over the price of tickets to popular concerts. Now, fed-up activists are calling on the federal government “to investigate and unwind” the companies’ 2010 merger.

The involved organizations just recently unveiled their to-the-point campaign, aptly named “Break Up Ticketmaster,” in a formal release published via the American Economic Liberties Project (AELP). Founded in February of 2020, the latter is a D.C.-based NPO that says it aims “to help translate the intellectual victories of the anti-monopoly movement into momentum towards concrete, wide-ranging policy changes that begin to address today’s crisis of concentrated economic power.”

Besides AELP, the entities behind “Break Up Ticketmaster” include but aren’t limited to Fight Corporate Monopolies (“a progressive political advocacy institution”), the 123-year-old National Consumers League, and the Artist Rights Alliance, which has taken public stances on a number of other music industry issues and subjects.

In support of this self-described “campaign to pressure the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate and unwind the 2010 Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger,” AELP released a roughly 2,500-word-long “quick-take” about said merger.

The detail-oriented document appears to cover the history of Live Nation’s pre-merger operations, concerns expressed at the time of and after the Ticketmaster deal, Live Nation’s alleged violation of the corresponding consent decree, and, predictably, the “bad service at outrageous prices” provided by Ticketmaster in the interim.

For those in search of a less rigorous explanation of the campaigners’ qualms, More Perfect Union, another of the organizations behind “Break Up Ticketmaster,” released a 10-minute YouTube video entitled “How Ticketmaster Is Destroying Live Music.”

In brief, the example-focused clip begins by diving into the Bruce Springsteen ticketing fiasco, the broader impact of Ticketmaster’s “Dynamic Pricing,” the staggering salary of Live Nation head Michael Rapino, the history of the previously highlighted merger, and the effects thereof on consumers.  

Lastly, the multifaceted effort to compel the government to break up Live Nation and Ticketmaster – which have already grappled with scrutiny from multiple lawmakers this year – calls on supporters to send letters demanding that the Department of Justice “investigate their conduct and move to break them up.”

At present, about 4,250 such letters have been sent, according to the link provided by “Break Up Ticketmaster.” Time will tell whether the campaign elicits concrete action from government officials – a point that may itself depend upon distinguishing between actual violations of laws and public frustration stemming from (technically legal) overpriced tickets as well as anti-consumer business practices.