U.S. Department of Justice Expected to File Lawsuit Against Live Nation and Ticketmaster This Week — Here’s the Latest

DoJ lawsuit Live Nation Ticketmaster
  • Save

DoJ lawsuit Live Nation Ticketmaster
  • Save
Photo Credit: Claudio Schwarz

The DOJ is expected to file a lawsuit as soon as this week against Live Nation and Ticketmaster, with a forced breakup of the conglomerate possible.

The Department of Justice and several state attorneys general are expected to announce an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation and Ticketmaster as early as Thursday (May 23rd), multiple sources close to the matter have leaked to ABC NewsCNN, and other outlets. Details of the lawsuit are as yet unclear, but the Justice Department’s investigation has been culminating for two years.

At its core, the DOJ’s investigation has focused on whether Live Nation created a monopoly over the live event ticketing marketing through its exclusive contracts with venues. Some venues have described Live Nation using bullying tactics or just outright neglecting to book their artists at venues who did not opt into using Ticketmaster.

Notably, a successful antitrust case levied at Live Nation and Ticketmaster from the Justice Department could result in a forced breakup of the two companies. That could spell sweeping winds of change for the live ticketing market, an industry already under increased scrutiny in the last couple years.

Even in 2019, Ticketmaster and Live Nation paid fines related to violating the previously agreed upon terms of a Justice Department consent decree issued when the merger was first approved.

Live Nation and Ticketmaster have been under fire for their speculative ticket sales, deceptive ticketing websites, and hidden fees since they merged back in 2010. But the DOJ has been watching them even more keenly since 2022 over the very public mishandling of pre-sales for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour.

With over 70% of the market share for ticketing and live events, Ticketmaster’s crash during the first day of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour pre-sales left millions of fans out in the cold — or stuck buying even higher priced tickets on the secondary market.

That fiasco led to lawmakers raking Live Nation president and CFO Joe Berchtold over the coals in January last year, grilling him over whether his company is too dominant in the industry and therefore harming rivals, artists, and the fans themselves.

“There are problems in the ticketing industry — problems that we believe can and should be addressed through legislation,” Berchtold said at the time, blaming ticket scalping as the root cause behind the Eras Tour kerfuffle.

In June last year, Live Nation representatives met with President Biden, later announcing changes including an “upfront all-in” pricing that discloses all fees when a user is shopping for tickets.