Oregon joins federal antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation, Ticketmaster, saying public hurt

Oregon has joined a group of 29 states in a federal lawsuit against Ticketmaster and its owner over an alleged entertainment industry monopoly that harms customers.

The 124-page suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in New York by the U.S. Department of Justice, 29 states and the District of Columbia, accuses Ticketmaster and Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. of using its control of artists and venues to stifle innovation and “bend the industry” to its benefit. 

Live Nation, which boasts it’s the world’s “largest live entertainment company,” manages 400 musicians and owns 265 venues, including Bend’s Hayden Homes Amphitheater in Oregon. It also pitched building a venue in Portland last year.

That ownership, which includes more than 60 of the 100 top amphitheaters in the U.S., brings wide power, the suit said.

“Control over a venue not only confers on Live Nation the ability to dictate whether fans can see a particular artist they love, but in many cases also provides Live Nation control over many aspects of the concert experience and a host of additional revenue streams ranging from sponsorships to food and beverage sales,” the lawsuit said. 

Live Nation and Ticketmaster have used their power to freeze innovation while boosting their bottom line and hurting the public, the suit said.

“The result is that fans pay more in fees, artists have fewer opportunities to play concerts, smaller promoters get squeezed out and venues have fewer real choices for ticketing services,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster.”

In a statement, Live Nation said the lawsuit won’t affect the things that the public cares about: ticket prices, service fees and access to shows.

“Calling Ticketmaster a monopoly may be a PR win for the DOJ in the short term, but it will lose in court because it ignores the basic economics of live entertainment, such as the fact that the bulk of service fees go to venues and that competition has steadily eroded Ticketmaster’s market share and profit margin. Our growth comes from helping artists tour globally, creating lasting memories for millions of fans and supporting local economies across the country by sustaining quality jobs,” the statement said.

It added that it will fight the lawsuit. 

“We will defend against these baseless allegations, use this opportunity to shed light on the industry, and continue to push for reforms that truly protect consumers and artists.”

Long-standing complaints about Ticketmaster’s practices hit a peak in 2022 when its botched rollout of Taylor Swift tickets led to a hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on the company’s role in the ticketing industry and the U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation.

The suit calls for restoring competition in the entertainment industry by banning Live Nation from engaging in anticompetitive practices and selling Ticketmaster.

“Restoring competition protects the ability of working artists and fans to meaningfully access, afford and engage with music and each other,” the suit said. “Addressing and stopping anticompetitive conduct is also essential to ensure the vibrancy of live music.”

Oregon’s attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, said the suit is a “big deal” for Oregonians.

“We’re joining this lawsuit because Live Nation stifles innovation, limits consumer choices, inflates prices and piles on excessive fees – and we want those practices to end.” 

The other attorneys general joining the suit are from: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

AnneMarie Timmins of the New Hampshire Bulletin contributed to this story.

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