One important thing to know is that the venues/artists often get a kickback of part of the Ticketmaster fees. In other words, the artists, venues, producers, and Ticketmaster are in cahoots to fleece fans for as much money as possible, and Ticketmaster is willing to play the 'bad guy' and take the blame for high prices, and they get to keep a bigger slice of the overall pie than they would in a highly competitive market for ticketing services because they provide that "service".

Take away this dynamic, and the face price of tickets is going to go up, and the total price is unlikely to change substantially.

Personally, I think this would still be a net plus for society. In order for market forces to work well, you need pricing transparency.

When this merger was first announced over a decade ago, it became like mandatory teaching in Competition Law classes for Law students in the UK.

Much of the legal community at the time was convinced there was no way in hell the original merger would be approved. Even at that time LiveNation controlled an astonishing percentage of the live music venue market - which when paired with ticket master's near total dominance of live music ticket sales... this was one of the seemingly simplest competition law cases in years. Then the deal was approved, of course.

I am not surprised in the least it's finally getting anti-trust attention.

Finally. Between the market dominance via Live Nation and Ticketmaster merge. The venue exclusivity contracts they insist upon. They are a grotesque monopoly.
I'm glad to see this. I run which provides ticketing/event management services for comedy shows (or pretty much anything but focused on comedy) and this industry is dominated by a few big players that charge exorbitant service fees which customers have no choice to pay because these are exclusive deals.

I've gotten smaller clubs and comics to hop over, and got one big tour to join, but when it comes to the well-known artists, they are contractually bound to go with the big companies. I'm very happy someone is taking action.

What’s interesting here: 14 years ago, the US Justice Department green lit the merger under the assumption live nation and Ticketmaster would place nice

> On January 25, 2010, the U.S. Justice Department approved the merger pending certain conditions.

Related: ("BIG by Matt Stoller: Explosive New Documents Unearthed On Live Nation/Ticketmaster")
The fees alone are one thing. But the fees that are a percentage of the purchase price are quite another. That transforms them from fees into a tax.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: kill the secondary market. Live nation should be broken up but a big driver of cost is the scalpers/hedgers who buy out everything and put it on StubHub.

Just make all sales final. Check IDs at the door, or use technology to speed up identity verification (mail out rfids, etc). Sucks if you get sick or whatever, just like many things in life where you cancel last minute. It’ll substantially decrease cost due to these bottom feeders.

Here's the (2018) viewpoint of somebody who actually owns and operates a concert venue in SF: (HN referers banned, so cut & paste into a fresh tab)

When was the last time the Justice Department actually broke up a monopoly?

Don't these suits usually result in a fine and an agreement to stop doing XYZ while both parties wink and nod, then the government lawyers go work in lucrative private practice a few years later?

My horror story of Ticketmaster; I recently bought standing-room-only tickets on short notice (<1wk) for an event near me, declining the additional fee to be able to refund my tickets. After more discussion with the others I was going with, I bought seated tickets instead through SeatGeek. Understanding I declined the ability to refund, I attempted to sell my tickets, but their system kept encountering an internal error preventing me from selling the tickets.

I reached out to support for assistance, and after several days of wasted time and run-around, they finally sent my issue to their engineering team saying they'd get back to me in 5 business days. Keep in mind I said I bought these tickets a week before the event, and they'd already wasted a few days giving me the run-around, functionally meaning I wouldn't be able to sell my tickets.

I attempted to charge back the purchase since they did not provide what I paid for (tickets I could sell), and they fought me and won somehow.

So thanks Ticketmaster, for sucking me out of hundreds of dollars for nothing more than bytes in your database that I couldn't do anything with. I hope they go bankrupt.

For anyone who is in my shoes and hasn't used Ticketmaster yet and might be tempted to give them a chance thinking all of these horror stories are just unlucky people- don't. I was naive to think that all of those companies with bad reputations are just the loud minority but Ticketmaster is the only one I've had the misfortune of finding out is seriously awful. Use SeatGeek or countless other platforms instead. Gun to my head to use Ticketmaster again I'd probably take the lead instead.

I'm as glad as anyone else to see an abusive company get some scrutiny, B U T . . .

Everyone is complaining about Ticketmaster but they're still giving them their money, so how are they supposed to respond? They are not being financially incentivized to change their ways. This feels a lot like the video gamer who hates Video Game Company XYZ with the passion of a thousand suns, yet like clockwork buys their video games again and again.

Show tickets aren't even a necessity. They're not like food and water--nobody has to buy them. Each and every dollar Ticketmaster collects is from a fan making a voluntary purchase of a luxury. Purchasing from a company that abuses them.

Japan has fantastic ticketing system that has reasonable ticket price that is fixed, and no scalpers can buy all the tickets because it is a lottery system.
Went to buy tickets for a show on ticketweb and saw it’s now owned by Ticketmaster. This has been a long time coming at this point.
Who approved the Ticketmaster / Live Nation merger to begin with?
Really wish they'd bring back hard tickets. Over the past 20 years I've simply shown up at a concert or sporting event day-of dozens of times and managed to score good-to-great seats, often for very fair prices, with a success rate that I would estimate around 75-80%.

In the past year, I've tried this a few times and there is simply nobody selling tickets near the venues at all.

Good. Finally something being done about this venue/ticket cartel
How bad do you have to be before the Gov files an antitrust suit these days?

IE/Netscape bad or this apparently.


  The Justice Department is preparing to sue Live Nation

  The specific claims the department would allege couldn’t be learned.
Hmm... maybe let's wait until we see what the claims are.
Throw away account or i'll probably get sued. I have worked for both Ticketmaster and Viagogo (on the record, fuck Eric Baker!). I lasted 2 days at Ticketmaster and a whole morning at Viagogo and decided I'd be better off being unemployed. Both companies in the early days were out there to scam people and make as much money as possible by strategically ignoring claims and driving costs down. One is less visibly scammy than the other now and that's the one you're all complaining about. They know what they will get away with.

The whole ticketing space is run by narcissistic assholes who should be in jail.

While I 100% support this action, I feel like people are going to be disappointed to find that if/when the dust settles and Live Nation is reined in (big if), tickets for the Taylor Swift concert or the NBA finals aren't suddenly coming down to $50. With a growing population, people with more disposable income and more interest in such events in general the fundamental economy of live events is very different than what it was 30 years ago. The sticker price is usually very close to the market value of the ticket, and often a lot less (hence all the scalping).
Without the Live Nation monopoly, tickets prices should stay the same, but the split between venue, artist, and ticket service should change, right?
The only relevant monopoly for a Taylor Swift concert is Taylor Swift. Fans would use any platform to buy to tickets for any venue in any city.
Well, duh. This should have happened two decades ago. Nobody should be able to have a cross-monopoly in artists, ticketing, and venues.
They may be a monopoly, but fans are willing to pay to see LiveNation concerts. Acts and venues go with it. I’ve found there so many other options out there for entertainment lately that I haven’t gone to a concert in 20 years! In a way I kind of like what Ticketmaster is doing, I wish I could get a cut.

(Seriously though, we have so many olig/monopolies I’ve lost count. Sad.)

If there is a clear monopoly. It is LiveNation. Ticket master is robbery in daylight. Those jank fees. Oh man, they have no shame.
Cory Doctorow put this all into perspective so well in a podcast I listen to a while back
"Live Nation's a monopoly"

one of my favourite songs

Worth noting that in the UK at least, Live Nation have an effective monopoly on:

- ticket sale - ticket secondary markets - they own most of the venues - they run the security (showsec) - they run the tour buses and logistics

And so on. So when they raise ticket prices and claim costs are going up, it is their own costs.

They're criminals. No more. No less.

I remember hating ClearChannel as a teenager.
this is all well and good but i know from personal experience that all the secondary marketplaces (stubhub, seatgeek) are pushing to do this (literally lobbying the government actively) because it helps them more easily do their secondary market selling. ticketmaster is a grotesque monopoly, but the secondary marketplaces are worried that ticketmaster will consolidate too much industry control through their vertical integration and make it harder for them to play a role in the industry as well.

the biggest problem in the industry is not necessarily ticketmaster; it's ticketmaster combined with the gigantic, largely-hidden world of ticket brokers who have an entire ecosystem of tools and tactics (as well as relationships with promoters) that allow them to buy tickets to high demand events with greater rates of success than real customers and then jack up the prices astronomically with literally no oversight. breaking up ticketmaster will do little to stop the insanity of the ever-increasing prices of tickets, nor will it make it any easier to get tickets to an event you want to go to. it will just change the balance of who is likely to screw you.

all the secondary marketplaces basically sell the same inventory and mask that fact by pretending they don't. tons of the inventory that exists on them is just arbitrage (or zone) inventory designed to trap you into paying way more than face value for a seat you can't even choose. there's an entire cottage industry (enabled by a little-known player called ticketnetwork) of websites that walk a fine line of pretending to be the official box offices for venues trying to confuse and trap consumers into paying over face value for tickets. the pricing models on the secondary markets (and this includes ticketmaster) are basically designed to obfuscate the fact that they're all selling the same inventory and either boost the upfront cost and reduce fees or show you a cut-rate price for the ticket and then make it up with fees.

i totally agree that it is a Net Good that ticketmaster does not control the venue, the promoter, and the primary sale of the ticket. making it easier for venues to shop around for ticket providers is a Good Thing. but without broader market regulation, the fundamental problem won't get any better.

edit: just to explain this a little further, the fact that the secondary marketplaces aren't the sellers is really the thing that makes everything so complex. the people who control the prices of the tickets on the secondary marketplace aren't the big players (stubhub, seatgeek, etc.) but the brokers who then broadcast their inventory at prices _they_ set to all the marketplaces simultaneously. there's not really an opportunity for competition in this space - brokers actively collude (there's a big paid forum called shows on sale where they all talk about upcoming ticket onsales and trade presale codes and intel for getting tickets.) because of this, "enabling more competition" won't change prices past the time that the primaries sell through their inventory, and the brokers will always have an edge when it comes to gobbling that up.

just in time for an election year I'm sure its just my imagination, but seems like the moment tickets go on sale most of the good seats are being resold through an official reseller. Its almost like live nation might be scalping their own tickets.
Better (30 years too) late than never!
thank god, they're also a menace in europe.
My only complaint is why this took so long.
So, a little context as to how the live events industry works, because it is not how most would assume.

First, you have the venue. The venue has an owner. This may be the owner of the sports team who plays there, a company that's entirely unrelated to the venue, a city or other government entity, or whoever else. *

Then you have the show you are buying a ticket for. This show may be a sports team, or it may be a concert or other live act. If a sports team it's probably got the same owner as the venue, but if a concert or other live act you have...

Promoters. Promoters rent the venue, pay for the show (i.e. they pay the band their fee to come play), sell the tickets, staff all the parts the venue doesn't, and pocket the difference. The promoter takes a risk, in that if they pay Major Act $1m and spend $500k on marketing/the venue/staffing and nobody shows up, they lose $1.5m. The band and venue still get paid.

The ticket platform. This platform sells the tickets for the event and adds their service fee. That service fee is generally used in part to pay the venue for the exclusive rights to sell tickets at the venue to the venue owner. That is both obviously valuable (fans can either pay your fee whatever it is or not go) and an obvious monopoly (if there were two ticket platforms selling for the same event the same seat would likely get sold twice sometimes).

Where this gets dicey: Live Nation (which owns Ticket Master) is both the biggest promoter and a ticket selling platform. Both by far. In fact they pay for exclusive rights to more than 80% of large venues. Most states only have a few venues that can do major acts (20,000+ seats), and a major act has essentially no alternative but to either play Live Nation venues, or play smaller evenues where independent promoters will pay them smaller fees.

Artists hate this system because it gouges their fans and arguably reduces their rates (there isn't a thriving market of promotors because most of them can't even use most big venues) but since Pearl Jam lost trying to break it up 30 years ago (when they were separate entities and TicketMaster had just as big a monopoly as now) they've not bothered to sue. Fans hate this system because they get gouged coming and going. It works well for Live Nation and the venues, obviously, though the venues still would be fine as they have very little competition. In my area there are two viable venues in the summer for a 25,000 person concert and one in the winter, and we're bigger than most.

Live Nation can use the vertical integration (they get both the promoter's share of the ticket revenue and the ticketing fee) to buy up most venues. And by buy up I mean either pay for exclusive contracts too, or just purchase outright.

It's been pretty clearly in violation of anti-trust laws for decades. TicketMaster before the merger and the combined entity now. I don't know how they've gotten away with it for so long, and they should undo the merger they never should have allowed to begin with.

*Unrelated but interesting: the venue also sells the rights to services inside the venue, like merchandise and, most lucratively, food and beverage. Third parties buy the rights to sell all of the food and drinks for very large sums. So a venue owner is responsible for relatively little of the work that goes on inside the venue. Someone else sets up the shows, pays for everything, sells the tickets, sells the food and drinks, etc.

long overdue
about time
I've never cared about anything less than I care about the price of stadium concert tickets.
This is already a solved problem- look at how airline seats are handled.
So in my opinion, the fans suing ticketmaster should sue Taylor Swift for using ticket master. Then she can sue her music company for doing business with ticket master. its not like selling tickets is not a solved problem, so why are we even bothering with this BS and just not using another service? O the music labels like them because they get sweet deals? Well again, sue Taylor Swift and the label, not the shitty ticket sales company.
tfw your daughters weren't able to get good tickets for the Eras Tour, but you're Merrick Garland :)

edit: it's a joke y'all, obviously they got great tickets with those family and Ivy League connections

I used to work in this space.

If the DOJ breaks up live nation the only group who gets screwed is the consumer. The sort of artist who is big enough to use live nation also wants a pay day for going on tour. They want the door, they want to sell their merch, they want a cut of the 20$ beer you buy. There might be 1 or 2 artist left who dont want to see you gouged on the ticket but that might not even be true any more.

Liven nation goes away. The venues are going to remain as a single company, the concessions are going to cost just as much. Ticketing might be phone/app only.

Every concert will turn into an auction. Want to get in front of the line. Pay 100 bucks to join a fan club. Want to cut that line, pay a 1000' bucks for a meet and greet and decent seats. Other wise wait, and bid. And that bidding is going to be ugly...

Fans are an interesting group of people. They tend to think with their heart and not with their head.... Dont believe me, we were selling hats and shirts at concerts long before video games. If you're willing to pay 5 bucks for a virtual good then 50 for a tshrit doesn't seem bad.