US Senators Richard Blumenthal (pictured left) and Amy Klobuchar (pictured right) have called on the Department of Justice to investigate competition in the live entertainment market, including Ticketmaster and Live Nation’s updated consent decree.
In a release from Blumenthal’s office, the Senators for Connecticut and Minnesota said that Live Nation, through its ownership of Ticketmaster which it acquired in 2010, has a ‘near-monopoly’ on the live event ticketing market. It also noted that the entertainment company controls a ‘significant share of venues and artist management services’ and charges high processing fees.
The Department of Justice obtained an updated consent decree in 2020 following a 2019 inquiry by Blumenthal and Klobuchar into Live Nation’s ‘repeat violations of the original consent decree’.
Blumenthal and Klobuchar wrote to the Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division Jonathan Kanter and said: “We write to urge the Department to investigate the state of competition in the live entertainment and ticketing industry, including any potential anticompetitive and anti-consumer actions by Live Nation, and to take action, as appropriate, to enforce the antitrust laws and restore competition to these important markets.
“We are deeply concerned that the Department’s past enforcement and negotiated remedies in this industry have failed to adequately foster and protect competition in live entertainment and ticketing markets.”
The release from the lawmakers also said that Live Nation had acquired 58 companies between 2006 and 2021 and have also acquired the organisers of four of America’s largest festivals between 2013 and 2015. By doing so, and along with the acquisition of House of Blues Entertainment in 2006, it has reduced competition in the entertainment and venue industry.
Blumenthal and Klobuchar wrote: “Industry participants have long complained about Live Nation leveraging its powerful market positions in ticketing, event promotion, sponsorship and advertising, artist management, and performance venue bookings to advantage its affiliate businesses up and down the entertainment value chain.
“To bolster its market power, Live Nation has engaged in an aggressive acquisition strategy to buy vertical competitors, including companies in the music festival and concert promoter markets.”
The pair added: “Multiple reports indicate the industry is rife with practices that prevent consumers from accessing tickets at affordable prices or prevent access entirely, including holdbacks and staggered sales, bots, lack of all-in pricing, and the reselling of free tickets.”