Live Nation & TS

Can a “Renaissance” Save Ticketmaster?

Christian GloverNews & Insights

By Christian Glover

Ticketmaster, the nation’s largest ticket distribution company,[1] is making changes to its sales approach ahead of Beyoncé’s upcoming tour for her newest album, Renaissance; this is in response to antitrust concerns following Ticketmaster’s merger with concert promotion company Live Nation, Inc.

In 2010, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia approved Live Nation’s purchase of Ticketmaster Entertainment, Inc. contingent upon an agreement that the newly combined entity, Live Nation Entertainment, would not retaliate against venue owners who chose a different vendor for either ticketing or live entertainment event services.[2] The agreement similarly provided that Live Nation Entertainment must not condition the provision of its ticketing service on the use of its company for live entertainment service, and vice versa.[3] 

Nevertheless, Ticketmaster’s recent sale of tickets for Taylor Swift’s concert tour left millions of fans either without tickets or with outrageously priced tickets,[4] and the criticism that followed has raised questions about whether the merger is negatively impacting customers.[5] Live Nation Entertainment has been facing investigations by the Department of Justice (“DOJ”)[6] as well as a warning by the Senate Judiciary Committee[7] as to the company’s potentially anticompetitive tactics. The Renaissance tour will be Ticketmaster’s chance to demonstrate that it can compete fairly by providing a quality experience to consumers at affordable prices. 

When the Live Nation and Ticketmaster merger was initially proposed, the DOJ and the Attorneys General of nineteen states filed an antitrust lawsuit against the entities seeking to prevent the merger.[8] The DOJ and Attorneys General alleged that the merger of the two entertainment industry giants would “substantially lessen competition for the provision of the primary ticketing services” in violation of antitrust laws.[9] This concern arose in part due to Live Nation launching its own ticketing service and quickly becoming a major competitor with a significant share of the ticketing market due to its preexisting relationships with major venues.[10] To allay the concern, the parties entered into the aforementioned term settlement for ten years.[11] In 2010, once the settlement was approved by the court, Live Nation purchased Ticketmasterm culminating in a 70% market share for ticketing and live events.[12] 

In the years since the settlement, the DOJ accused Ticketmaster’s (now) parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, of “using its dominant position in the live music industry to force artists and venues to use both its ticketing and concert promotion services.”[13] In response, the parties agreed to an extension of their original agreement through 2025 with an added requirement for an independent compliance monitor and $1,000,000 fees per violation. [14] Despite these measures to maintain fair competition, the company’s dominance risks harm to consumers through anticompetitive tactics like excessive prices and inferior quality.[15] Consumers saw this play out during Taylor Swift’s concert sale last fall, as Ticketmaster appeared unprepared for the problems that high demand would cause for its ticket sale process. Once the tickets went on sale, the website was plagued with technical problems resulting in tickets disappearing from consumers’ online baskets, leaving legions of Taylor Swift fans, or“Swifties,” without access.[16]

Live Nation Entertainment’s CEO attributed Ticketmaster’s failings to online bots, “automated programs run by scalpers,” who bought tickets in bulk before fans were able to purchase them. [17] Critics have alleged that Ticketmaster is complicit in this process because its secondary ticket company, Ticketmaster Resale, charges additional fees so “Ticketmaster can essentially assess a second fee on consumers who missed out on the initial sale of concert tickets [purchased by scalpers].”[18] Skeptics have further accused Live Nation Entertainment of “abus[ing] its dominant market position by underinvesting in site stability and customer service,” resulting in an inferior consumer experience.[19] The debacle led to Taylor Swift fans filing a class action lawsuit against Ticketmaster and Live Nation Entertainment for antitrust violations.[20] 

The DOJ is purportedly investigating whether Live Nation Entertainment has an illegal monopoly in the industry.[21] Section 2 of the Sherman Act makes it illegal to monopolize any aspect of interstate commerce.[22] To prevail on a claim for violation of the Sherman Act, the plaintiff must show that: (1) “the defendant has engaged in predatory or anticompetitive conduct with (2) a specific intent to monopolize and (3) a dangerous probability of achieving monopoly power.”[23] The DOJ may also pursue action under section 7 of the Clayton Act, which expands on the Sherman Act by prohibiting mergers or acquisitions where the effect “may be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly.”[24] The DOJ’s probe is reportedly centered on how Live Nation Entertainment utilizes its market power to displace competing ticket sellers and concert promoters.[25] If the DOJ finds that Live Nation Entertainment has violated antitrust laws, it could lead to a breakup of the merged entity. 

The Taylor Swift concert ticket sale problems also prompted the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate anticompetitive concerns.[26] As a remedy against unfair ticket prices, Senator Richard Blumenthal introduced the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act, which would “prohibit ticket scalpers from using software to purchase high volumes of tickets.”[27] The Senator has also encouraged the Federal Trade Commission to strengthen its enforcement against anticompetitive behavior in the ticketing industry.[28] 

For now, all eyes will be on Ticketmaster’s handling of the Renaissance tour. Beyoncé is set to do her first tour in seven years, thus, demand for tickets is expected to be exceptionally high. Indeed, the number of fans registered for the chance to purchase tickets has already exceeded the number of tickets available by 800%.[29] Ticketmaster is taking several measures to avoid another fiasco. First, tickets will be sold in different groups according to location, to help stagger ticket sales.[30] Second, Ticketmaster is using Verified Fan, a registration method to help ensure actual fans are purchasing tickets, not scalpers and bots.[31] Third, the platform plans to use a “lottery-style selection process” to determine which fans get tickets and which fans get placed on the waitlist.[32] Ultimately, the Renaissance tour may be Live Nation Entertainment’s last chance to prove it can provide consumers with a quality experience at a reasonable price. 


[1] Florian Ederer, Did Ticketmaster’s Market Dominance Fuel the Chaos for Swifties?, Yale Insights (Nov. 23, 2022), https://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/did-ticketmasters-market-dominance-fuel-the-chaos-for-swifties.

[2] See Final Judgment, United States and Pl. States v. Ticketmaster Ent., Inc. and Live Nation, Inc., Case No. 1:10-cv-00139 (D.D.C 2010).

[3] Id. at 19.

[4] Emma Roth, Swift Fans Are Suing Ticketmaster Over Presale Disaster, The Verge (Dec. 4, 2022), https://www.theverge.com/2022/12/4/23492382/taylor-swift-fans-ticketmaster-lawsuit-disaster.

[5] Id.

[6] Josh Sisco, DOJ Probing Live Nation and Ticketmaster for Antitrust Violations, Politico (Nov. 18, 2022), https://www.politico.com/news/2022/11/18/live-nation-ticketmaster-antitrust-violations-taylor-swift-00069564.

[7] See e.g., Senate Judiciary Committee (@JudiciaryDems), Twitter (Feb. 2, 2023, 9:00 AM), https://twitter.com/JudiciaryDems/status/1621191756531236866?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1621191756531236866%7Ctwgr%5E1d21936f8d741487b7f069ec0f076d76c8b70b64%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fthehill.com%2Fhomenews%2Fsenate%2F3841857-senate-judiciary-committee-sends-warning-to-ticketmaster-over-beyonce-tour-tickets%2F

[8] See Pl.’s Am. Compl., United States and Pl. States v. Ticketmaster Ent., Inc. and Live Nation, Inc., Case No. 1:10-cv-00139 (D.D.C 2010) [ECF No. 4-1].

[9] Id. at 6.

[10] Id. at 12-14.

[11] See Final Judgment at 26.

[12] Emily Lorsch, Why Live Nation and Ticketmaster Dominate the Live Entertainment Industry, CNBC (Jan. 25, 2023), https://www.cnbc.com/2023/01/25/the-live-nation-and-ticketmaster-monopoly-of-live-entertainment.html.

[13] Sisco, supra note 6.

14 See Am. Final Judgment, United States, et al., v. Ticketmaster Ent., Inc. and Live Nation, Inc., Case No. 1:10-cv-00139 at 18-21, 30-39 (D.D.C 2020).

[15] Ederer, supra note 1.

[16] Roth, supra note 4.

[17] Ben Sisario & Matt Stevens, Ticketmaster Cast as a Powerful ‘Monopoly’ at Senate Hearing, NY Times (Jan. 24, 2023), https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/24/arts/music/ticketmaster-taylor-swift-senate-hearing.html.

[18] Winston Cho, Activist Group Asks Justice Dept. to Unwind Live Nation and Ticketmaster Merger, The Hollywood Reporter (Oct. 19, 2022), https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/business-news/activist-group-justice-dept-unwind-live-nation-ticketmaster-merger-1235244376/.

[19] Ederer, supra note 1.

[20] Rachel Treisman, Dozens of Taylor Swift Fans Sue Ticketmaster in the Wake of its Ticket Sale Fiasco, NPR (Dec. 6, 2022), https://www.npr.org/2022/12/06/1140968805/taylor-swift-fans-ticketmaster-lawsuit.

[21] Aimee Picchi, Ticketmaster Parent Live Nation under Investigation by DOJ; Apology Issued to Swift Fans, CBS News (Nov. 19, 2022), https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ticketmaster-live-nation-under-investigation-by-department-of-justice/.

[22] 15 U.S.C. § 2.

[23] Spectrum Sports, Inc. v. McQuillan, 506 U.S. 447, 447-48 (1993).

[24] 15 U.S.C. § 18.

[25] Sisco, supra note 6.

[26] Sarah Polus, Senate Judiciary Committee Sends Warning to Ticketmaster Over Beyoncé Tour Tickets, The Hill (Feb. 2, 2023), https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/3841857-senate-judiciary-committee-sends-warning-to-ticketmaster-over-beyonce-tour-tickets/.

[27] Press Release, Blumenthal Presses Ticketmaster on Harms to Consumers, Artists & Venues at Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, Senate.Gov (Jan. 24, 2023), https://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/blumenthal-presses-ticketmaster-on-harms-to-consumers-artists-and-venues-at-senate-judiciary-committee-hearing.

[28] Id.

[29] Id.

[30] How to Get Tickets to Renaissance World Tour, Ticketmaster (Feb. 1, 2023),  https://blog.ticketmaster.com/beyonce/.

[31] Id.

[32] Id.