One month after Live Nation and the U.S. Justice Department agreed to a settlement regarding Live Nation’s ticketing practices, the Justice Department has filed court documents detailing claims of the company’s violations of its antitrust agreements and setting forth stricter terms going forward.
The documents, filed on Wednesday and obtained by Rolling Stone, detail multiple instances in which Live Nation Entertainment has allegedly coerced venues to use Ticketmaster — the ticketing giant that the company acquired in 2010 — instead of competing ticket vendors. Critics of the merger have long complained of stifled competition, and last month, rumors started that the DOJ was preparing a lawsuit against Live Nation for strong-arming venues, an action that stands in violation of an agreement that Live Nation made with the government in 2010. Last month, Live Nation and the DOJ reached a settlement agreement and also announced tentative new rules to govern the ticketing behemoth.
Wednesday’s filing details six alleged violations from Live Nation dating back to 2012 to as recently as March 2019. The six venues, which have not been publicly identified by the government to protect them from further potential action from Live Nation, had been forced to use Ticketmaster to avoid losing Live Nation’s concert business, the filing said.
Ticketmaster and Live Nation executives explicitly told venues they would pull all their concert business when they moved away from Ticketmaster, the DOJ claimed in the filing, with one venue executive telling antitrust agents that Ticketmaster’s president allegedly said “Ticketmaster’s response would be nuclear” if they left, and that “Live Nation would never do another show in our building.” Another venue reported that it had signed a ticketing agreement with a Ticketmaster competitor, and Live Nation stopped contacting the venue for concert opportunities until one month later, when the venue backed out of the deal to sign with Ticketmaster and was “back in the family.”
In a statement issued to Rolling Stone Thursday, Live Nation said it would continue to fight the Justice Department on the allegations. “Live Nation settled this matter to make clear that it has no interest in threatening or retaliating against venues that consider or choose other ticketing companies,” a rep for the company said. “We strongly disagree with the DOJ’s allegations in the filing and the conclusions they seek to draw from six isolated episodes among some 5,000 ticketing deals negotiated during the life of the consent decree. Nevertheless, in keeping with our decision to settle, our focus is now on bringing this matter to its conclusion and continuing to deliver the best live event experiences to fans everywhere.”
The DOJ’s Wednesday filings included new guidelines for Live Nation — including stipulations that it undergo monitoring by an “independent trustee” selected by the U.S. government. The federal government’s actions against Live Nation come as online ticket vending continues to consolidate. London-based Viagogo bought larger Stubhub from Ebay last November, creating one of the largest ticket vendors in the industry.