The Monopoly Case Against Ticketmaster, Explained

The antitrust suit against Live Nation is not about ticket scalping or ticket sales. It's about total domination over the entire concert industry.
The Monopoly Case Against Ticketmaster, Explained
Diagram: Department of Justice. Image: Jason Koebler
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The Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation/Ticketmaster isn’t really about high ticket prices, or ticket scalpers, or any individual offense. It is about a systematic vertical integration of the entire live music business, which has led to the company’s dominance over tickets, yes, but also over live music venues, artists’ tour booking, and concert promotion. This dominance has led to the downstream effects everyone hates, like higher ticket prices, difficult-to-obtain tickets, a symbiosis with ticket brokers, etc. 

The key thing you need to know about this 124-page lawsuit, and about Live Nation as an entity, is what this vertical integration means for anyone touching the live music industry and anyone who wants to see a concert anywhere in the U.S. The Justice Department’s lawsuit, filed last week, paints a vivid picture of this vertically-integrated monopoly and explains all of the harms it has led to. 

In simple terms, Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, is not just selling fans tickets on It owns, operates, or has exclusive contracts with the vast majority of midsized and large concert venues, and a supermajority of all outdoor pavilions and amphitheaters. And it has a concert promotion and artist agent arm, meaning major bands and artists are signed to Live Nation promoters. For all but the smallest bands playing tiny indie venues, it is nearly impossible to book and perform a tour in the United States without touching Live Nation or Ticketmaster at some point. And this omnipresence over the whole industry means that Live Nation has a huge amount of control and power over how much bands are paid, how much tickets cost, and which venues they play at. 

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