The Justice Department demanded that the combined company accept certain conditions in order to approve the merger. One was that Ticketmaster wasn’t allowed to force venues to sign ticketing deals by threatening to deny them access to Live Nation tours. They couldn’t say, “If you don’t use Ticketmaster, you’re not getting X-Y-Z tours next year.”
The Justice Department investigated Ticketmaster’s actions a few years back and discovered that they had done it a lot of times.
The C.E.O. of rival ticketing service SeatGeek testified at this hearing. of rival ticketing service SeatGeek testified that when they pitch their services, venues will be impressed with their proposal, but say that they’re worried about losing concerts if they drop Ticketmaster. Senator Klobuchar said that this is the definition of monopoly — that Live Nation doesn’t even need to exert pressure, and people just fall in line.
This is what artists say about the situation. Are they able to sell their tickets themselves?
Pearl Jam filed suit against Ticketmaster almost 30 years ago. The band claimed that Ticketmaster held a monopoly over concert tickets. The band tried to arrange a tour outside of Ticketmaster but they were unable to find any venues. They gave up and returned to Ticketmaster.
It might be possible for very big artists. Taylor Swift could also be selling her own merchandise. There is an established status quo in the market for live music. An artist makes a deal to host a concert, and the promoter then finds the right venue. The venue also has a ticketing system that allows everyone to purchase tickets. It’s not easy to change, especially when one big player controls multiple parts of it.
In 2018, we revealed that Ticketmaster handled 80 of America’s top-100 venues. The company’s market share is a matter of debate, but it is still very high.
After the Senate hearing, what might be next?
It’s unclear. It would be very significant if the Justice Department tried to disintegrate the company. Even though the senators were united in their displeasure about the power that Live Nation Entertainment has, I think it’s an uphill battle to change the system.