Live Nation and Ticketmaster’s dominance in the market has come under investigation by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) following “serious accusations” about its behaviour in the marketplace.

The New York Times reports that the DOJ has been looking into complaints that Live Nation has used its control over concert tours to pressure venues into contracting with its subsidiary, Ticketmaster.

AEG, the ticketing and promotion giant’s main competitor, has reportedly told the officials that venues it manages were told they would lose valuable shows if Ticketmaster was not used as a vendor. This is a possible violation of antitrust law.

Live Nation reportedly bypassed Gwinnett Center, a popular arena outside Atlanta, in 2013 for the Matchbox Twenty tour.

According to the New York Times, Gwinnett’s booking director, Dan Markham, worried his venue was being punished, according to emails he wrote at the time. The centre had just replaced Ticketmaster with a service controlled by AEG.

“Don’t abandon Gwinnett,” he wrote to a Live Nation talent coordinator. “If there’s an issue or issues let’s address.”

“Issue?” the Live Nation coordinator wrote back. “Three letters. Can you guess what they are?”

AEG provided The New York Times with copies of emails to support its account of threats.

“What happened in Atlanta is just one example of what has been occurring much more broadly,” said Ted Fikre, the chief legal officer for AEG, the newspaper reports.

Live Nation officials say they never threaten or retaliate. They dismissed the complaints as tactical, deliberate mischaracterisations by AEG.

“You have a disgruntled competitor that is trying to explain their loss around the boogeyman that there were threats made that nobody can document,” said Daniel M. Wall, Live Nation’s antitrust lawyer.

The whole New York Times report on the investigation can be found here.

Image: Martin Fisch