Ticketmaster targeted by Department of Justice for squeezing live music industry, strong-arming venues
Two senators are calling for the DOJ to check into Ticketmaster
Ticketmaster is a convenient evil — not a necessary one. And it might not be around forever.
The concert ticket middleman is a giant in the music business, managing the tours of over 500 artists. If you go to shows even somewhat frequently, chances are you’ve used their online service to buy tickets. There aren’t many other competitive options out there.
Which, is part of the reason why two US Senators sent a letter urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate Ticketmaster and their “anti-competitive market.”
See, back in 2010 Ticketmaster (who already dominated the ticketing industry) merged with concert promoter Live Nation. They made a request to the DOJ, which was approved and the massive music companies subsequently merged to become Live Nation Entertainment. Suddenly, they not only had power over the ticketing side of concerts, but they also had leverage on the promotional side, too.
Ticketmaster let that power go to its head, allege Senators Blumenthal and Klobuchar, who wrote the letter to the DOJ. And they broke rules that had been laid out when the merg-request was approved in the first place.
Americans purchasing tickets from Ticketmaster-Live Nation have grown sick & tired of sky-high fees. @SenAmyKlobuchar & I are calling on DOJ to investigate this anticompetitive market & take action to ensure consumers have a transparent ticketing process.https://t.co/wCwZVxiTDF— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) August 28, 2019
Ticketmaster used its power to manage artists to leverage venues to use their ticketing platform. Which, as many of you probably know, jacks the prices of concert tickets up out the wazoo. Ticketing fees have been hovering around 25% for the last decade (since this merger was given the green light by the DOJ).
And, if a venue refused to use Ticketmaster? The senators say that Ticketmaster would retaliate, by not working with those venues in the future.
“Americans purchase hundreds of millions of tickets every year and have grown sick and tired of the sky-high fees from Ticketmaster,” read the senators’ letter. “We strongly urge you to investigate this market and take any actions necessary to ensure that it serves the public.”
Of course, Ticketmaster denies any and all allegations of foul play. They allege that they followed all the rules, that they have never forced anyone to use their services, and that they have they never retaliated against venues who didn’t use their platform.
We’ll see about all that, though. If the DOJ does get involved, it could mean that things in the music ticketing industry are about to get shaken up.