Bad blood: US sues Live Nation after Taylor Swift Eras Tour fiasco

Justice Department and 29 states file lawsuit seeking to break up Live Nation and Ticketmaster

Taylor Swift attends a premiere for Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour in Los Angeles, California, in October last year. Reuters
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The US on Thursday sued to break up Live Nation and Ticketmaster, after the company's botched handling of Taylor Swift's Eras Tour in 2022 saw sky-high ticket prices and hour-long online queues.

“We are not here today because Live Nation-Ticketmaster's conduct is inconvenient or frustrating. We are here because, as we allege, that conduct is anticompetitive and illegal,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

“We allege that Live Nation has illegally monopolised markets across the live concert industry in the United States for far too long. It is time to break it up.”

The lawsuit is the latest aggressive action taken by the Justice Department against companies accused of engaging in monopolistic behaviour, including Apple earlier this year.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia joined the Justice Department in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit said Live Nation manages more than 400 music artists and owns or controls more than 265 music venues in North America.

Live Nation controls about 60 per cent of concert promotions at big venues. Ticketmaster controls at least 80 per cent of big venues' primary ticketing for concerts.

“We allege that to sustain this dominance Live Nation relies on unlawful anticompetitive conduct to exercise its monopolistic control over the live events industry in the United States,” Mr Garland said.

He said this results in higher ticket prices for fans, fewer venue options for artists, that smaller promoters get squeezed out, and that venues have few choices for ticketing services.

Live Nation said the lawsuit will not reduce ticket prices or service fees, and that the company is not a monopoly.

“Ticketmaster, in particular, is a far better, more artist- and fan-focused business under Live Nation’s ownership than it ever was as a stand-alone company. But that’s not how this DOJ sees it. They are reflexively antagonistic to vertical integration,” Live Nation's executive vice president, Dan Wall, wrote in a blog post.

The Justice Department approved TicketMaster's merger with Live Nation in 2010.

Updated: May 23, 2024, 5:27 PM