How Live Nation and Ticketmaster have a monopoly on the live entertainment industry


The Senate Judiciary Committee this week held a hearing entitled “That’s the Ticket: Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment,” which focused on the state of Live Nation Entertainment and the lack of competition in the primary and secondary ticket markets.

“I just want to get rid of the idea that this isn’t a monopoly and then we can look for solutions from there,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said at the hearing, held Tuesday.

Live Nation Entertainment is composed of Live Nation, an event promoter and venue operator, and Ticketmaster, a ticketing giant. The two companies merged in 2010 and now control an estimated 70% of the ticketing and live event market.

It’s no secret that Taylor Swift fans were outraged in November 2022 when millions flocked to to get tickets to see the heartbreak queen for the first time since 2018 and the website crashed. The long queues and frozen screens caused an uproar from fans, who blamed Ticketmaster for ruining their chances of seeing the pop star.

“As a leading player, we have a duty to do better,” Joe Berchtold, president and chief financial officer of Live Nation Entertainment, said at Tuesday’s hearing.

This isn’t the first time consumers have called for the breakup of Ticketmaster and Live Nation. It is also not the first time that the Justice Department has investigated alleged misconduct by the company.

When the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster was approved in 2010, it was conditional on a consent decree. The purpose of that agreement was, among other things, to prohibit Live Nation from retaliating against a venue that used a ticketer other than Ticketmaster. Following an investigation, in 2019 the DOJ took the most significant enforcement action of an antitrust decree in 20 years when it alleged that Live Nation Entertainment had violated that decree. The company settled with the government.

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“The Justice Department alleged six issues in 2019 that led to our decision to partner with them to renew the Consent Decree. We didn’t think it made sense to be seen as defending theories of retaliation or threats. It’s not our business practice. goes against our fundamental focus on alignment with the artists. The idea that we would ever put our best interests ahead of theirs. So we’re comfortable with extending the consent decree,” Berchtold said at Tuesday’s hearing. “It is absolutely our policy not to pressure, threaten or retaliate against venues by using content as part of the ticket discussion,” he added.

In November 2022, The New York Times reported that the DOJ is re-investigating the company.

While Live Nation Entertainment arguably has a monopoly on the industry, a monopoly in itself is not illegal in the United States. A monopoly occurs when a company has exclusive ownership or control of an industry.

“If we were to make monopolies illegal based on pricing above cost and generating monopoly profits for a company, the concern would be that it could stifle risk-taking and entrepreneurial activity,” said Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute. .

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Abuse of a monopoly position is another matter. It is illegal for a company to establish or maintain a monopoly through improper conduct and not allow others to enter the market.

Clyde Lawrence, a singer-songwriter in the New York City-based band Lawrence, testified at Tuesday’s hearing. The band regularly interacts with Live Nation Entertainment. It is often their promoter, venue operator and ticket seller.

“In a world where the Promoter and Venue are not affiliated, we can be confident that the Promoter will try to get the best deal from the Venue; in this case, however, the Promoter and Venue are part of the same company. entity, so the line items are essentially Live Nation negotiating to pay for itself,” Lawrence said.

The band told TBEN that if they want to play in a certain size venue in a certain city, they sometimes have no choice but to use Live Nation due to the lack of competition in some regions. If they then want to use a ticketer other than Ticketmaster, they say that’s not an option.

“Ticketmaster made these exclusive contracts. Once you sign that contract, a band isn’t allowed to come in and say, ‘we want to sell our tickets with X, Y, Z platform,'” said Jordan Cohen, one of the band members. eight members.

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They even have a song that says, “Live Nation is a monopoly.” “Because of Live Nation’s control of the entire industry, we have virtually no leverage in the negotiations,” Lawrence said.

While the company has some competition, experts say no other company currently stands a chance.

“There’s really no one who’s been able to get the type of scale that Live Nation has. The most similar is Anschutz Entertainment Group with their own kind of in-house ticketing platform. But they’ve made a statement that speaks to Ticketmaster’s market power, which is that they have Ticketmaster used to ticket Taylor Swift,” said Barton Crockett, general manager and senior equity analyst at Rosenblatt Securities.

It’s a company that many people have looked into. They’ve said they want to get in, but no one has really been able to gain enough market share to really become a meaningful player,” he added.

Live Nation declined TBEN’s request for an interview or comment, but said in a statement on its website that it is against company policy to threaten venues if they don’t use Ticketmaster and that it will not retaliate for a lost ticket. ticket deal.

It’s unclear what’s next for Live Nation Entertainment.

Watch this video to learn more about how the company got to where it is today and what the future might hold.


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