The United States Department of Justice has opened an antitrust investigation into Live Nation’s alleged abuses of power within the music industry, The New York Times reports based on tips from two anonymous sources close to the matter. Per The Times, the inquiry predates the Taylor Swift ticketing fiasco this week that brought renewed scrutiny from her fans — and several prominent progressive politicians — to the global entertainment conglomerate’s 2010 merger with Ticketmaster.
The Times‘ David McCabe and Ben Sisario write: “Staff members at the agency’s antitrust division have in recent months contacted music venues and players in the ticket market, asking about Live Nation’s practices and the wider dynamics of the industry… The inquiry appears to be broad, looking at whether the company maintains a monopoly over the industry.”
The DOJ initially accepted Ticketmaster’s merger with Live Nation through 2020, but their approval was conditional: Ticketmaster would need to sell a subsidiary ticketing company to one of Live Nation’s rivals, and to license its ticketing software to Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), Live Nation’s primary competitor in the United States. Separately, the department prohibited Live Nation from threatening concert venues that they would lose access to the tours the corporation promotes if they opted to use third-party ticketing providers. The agreement was amended in 2019, however, when an earlier DOJ investigation found that the company had violated the latter provision of their contract. Nevertheless, the deal was extended through 2025 with new language clarifying the limitations of the company’s negotiation tactics.
On Tuesday, November 15, millions of Swifties flocked to Ticketmaster’s site during a verified pre-sale for Swift’s Eras Tour. The massive influx of users caused the TM’s servers to crash, and the debacle culminated in a Thursday announcement that the public ticket sale — scheduled to start today (November 18) — was cancelled. It remains unclear whether tickets to the tour will be available for general purchase at a later date.
The FADER has submitted a request to the Justice Department for independent confirmation of the investigation’s existence. We’ve also reached out to representatives of Live Nation for further comment on the matter, and for information on the status of the Eras Tour’s ticket sales.