Ticketmaster and Live Nation should not have been allowed to merge, according to an antitrust suit put before the Justice Department.
In 2010, live events organizer Live Nation and online third-party ticket-seller Ticketmaster merged to become Live Nation Entertainment, commonly still known as Ticketmaster. It was a controversial situation at the time, with performers and others in the industry warning about the near-monopoly the two companies would have together on live entertainment.
In 2009, Bruce Springsteen wrote in an open letter to his fans that “the one thing that would make the current ticket situation even worse for the fan than it is now would be Ticketmaster and Live Nation coming up with a single system, thereby returning us to a near monopoly situation in music ticketing.”
Antitrust attorneys testified before the senate that it would be difficult for any future rival to enter the market of ticket distribution or concert promotion after the merger, even independent venues only pushing their own events. The deal was approved with conditions. Ticketmaster had to sell off a subsidiary, had to share their ticketing software with a rival, and the new merged company was not allowed to retaliate against any venue or performer for working with rivals.
According to a new suit by activist organization the American Economic Liberties Project, it’s this last condition that Ticketmaster is violating. An analysis from the group shows that if a venue chooses to use ticket-sellers other than Ticketmaster, Live Nation retaliates by pressuring performers to boycott the venue. That pressure happens because Live Nation controls the market on concert promotion, so performers who don’t contract with them suffer due to lack of visibility. Performers who do contract with them are not allowed to book in venues Live Nation doesn’t approve.
Live Nation was already found to be in violation of this clause in 2019. AELP argues that since they have refused to change their practices, the merger should be unwound entirely.
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