Happy Thanksgiving, Live Nation: Weeks after reporting its “biggest quarter ever,” the Ticketmaster parent has been slapped with a subpoena from the U.S. Senate.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, who serves as chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, took to social media to elaborate upon the reasons behind the subpoena. A longtime proponent of regulatory legislation targeting Live Nation as well as Ticketmaster, the Connecticut lawmaker is the co-sponsor of the Unlock Ticketing Markets Act and previously criticized the alleged “clear excesses and abuses of Ticketmaster.”
“Live Nation has egregiously stonewalled my Subcommittee’s inquiry into its abusive consumer practices—making the subpoena necessary,” the senator explained on Twitter/X. “This subpoena demands that the company promptly comply with our request for documents essential to understand its business practices.”
According to Reuters, these essential documents involve tickets’ pricing, fees, and resale specifics, while the subpoena’s cover letter, dated November 16th, claims that Live Nation failed to comply with information requests dating back to March.
(For additional context regarding the document request, January had seen Live Nation CFO Joe Berchtold face a bipartisan congressional grilling, which had itself arrived on the heels of the much-publicized Eras Tour pre-sale fiasco.)
Notably, Live Nation EVP of corporate and regulatory affairs Dan Wall pushed back against the senator’s subpoena and assessment of the situation.
“Live Nation has been cooperating with the Senate Subcommittee’s investigation for months and has in no way been ‘stonewalling,’ Wall penned in a nearly 400-word response. “We have produced documents on every subject that the Subcommittee raised, not only in its initial letter but in subsequent conversations. We have in fact produced nearly 10,000 pages of documents, including more than 2000 emails, dozens of commercial agreements, and voluminous other materials.”
The “highly sensitive client information” sought by the subcommittee “addresses plainly confidential subjects such as how much money artists make from their tours,” per Wall, who further maintained that Live Nation had “told the Subcommittee repeatedly that we would produce such information with normal confidentiality protections.”
“The Subcommittee has refused to provide any confidentiality protections at all,” proceeded the Live Nation exec of about 10 months. “That has led to an impasse that left us with no procedural option other than to decline to produce the third-party confidential information at issue. … The Subcommittee responded by issuing a subpoena, which was expected. It is only in a subpoena enforcement action that Live Nation can assert its rights to protect the confidentiality of this information.”
Bigger picture, the subpoena has entered the media spotlight amid a reportedly intensifying Justice Department antitrust investigation into the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger. Upon unveiling Live Nation’s aforementioned record Q3 financials, Berchtold took aim at the timing of related reports and made clear that the company didn’t believe there was “any real news” concerning the DOJ probe.