Elizabeth Warren on How Ticketmaster Harms Artists, Venues, and You

Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation, are having a moment — a bad moment. Years of bullying both artists and venues, while price-gouging customers, has caught up with this corporate giant. The Justice Department has filed a long-overdue antitrust lawsuit for its predatory practices — and cheers can be heard from all parts of the live performance world.

First, a note about how we got here. Ticketmaster is merely a middleman — the ticket seller — but it is stunningly powerful because it has enormous control over vast swaths of the ticketing market. Because it’s combined with Live Nation, the nation’s largest concert promoter, Ticketmaster is in a position to squeeze everyone else in the live entertainment business — and that’s exactly what they do.

Ticketmaster grew the way many near-monopolies have grown: It bought out the competition. After years of rollups, there were two giants left standing in the live events business: Live Nation and Ticketmaster. In 2009, they decided to merge. It didn’t take a genius to see that the one resulting company would dominate the live events industry. The Department of Justice saw the problem, but instead of blocking the merger outright, it put guardrails in place with a consent decree that prohibited the company from forcing venues to use its ticketing services. After the deal was finalized, Ticketmaster jumped those guardrails, expanding both its power and its profits.


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