Live Nation and Ticketmaster Face Class-Action Antitrust Lawsuit

Live Nation and its subsidiary Ticketmaster are officially facing an antitrust class action lawsuit for their alleged “blatant, consumer-hostile behavior,” particularly in relation to alleged breaches of their consent regulation, efforts to “monopolize the primary ticketing services market” through exclusive deals with “the vast majority of large concert halls ”and more.

Four people (residents of Florida, California, and Ohio) who recently purchased primary and / or secondary tickets from Ticketmaster filed the comprehensive complaint in a California federal court.

The comprehensive lawsuit spans an incredible 76 pages and begins with the finding that the filing parties’ attorneys filed another class action lawsuit against Live Nation in April 2020, also because of the alleged monopoly business practices of the Beverly Hills-based company. While the defendants have long forced consumer lawsuits against them to arbitrate – including in the April 2020 case – they changed their arbitration agreement “drastically” in July 2021, according to the latest lawsuit.

In short, this updated Arbitration Agreement “refers to New Era ADR as a Dispute Settlement Forum”. Thus, “even if consumers have priority under the New Era Agreement, and even if consumers have a legal right to legal fees and costs, the New Era Agreement immediately abolishes this and leaves it to the unfairly elected decision-maker to decide to be awarded. “Fees and costs ‘as required'”, explains the text.

Notwithstanding this new system, which allegedly “skews the odds” in Live Nation’s favor, “the essence of the litigation has not changed since” the April 2020 lawsuit, with recent plaintiffs “seeking redress for the damage they suffered from Have suffered payment of excessively competitive fees ”. when buying primary and secondary tickets on Ticketmaster’s online platforms, ”says the text.

And on this front, the multi-faceted lawsuit dips into the logistical nuances of Live Nation’s business model and claims right away: “Live is subsidized by the over-competitive profits that Ticketmaster’s business generates from its dominance of the primary ticketing services for large concert halls Nation Entertainment has been able to hold its concert promotion services in a stranglehold – losing tens of millions of dollars annually – by paying exorbitant amounts to its customers.

“Using its promotional business as a loss leader, in turn, helps maintain Ticketmaster’s dominance as venue operators have to consider the very real possibility that Live Nation Entertainment will not tour their venues unless they have Ticketmaster as theirs select primary ticketing service provider. “.

“The main source and obstacle to Ticketmaster’s market dominance is a nationwide network of long-term, exclusive commercial agreements with the vast majority of major concert halls in the United States.”

The cost-related effects of the “pervasive and insidious” practice, according to the plaintiffs, ultimately also reached fans, who “have long denounced the extraordinarily high fees that Ticketmaster charges for the tickets sold, a practice that consumers because of the ubiquity of Ticketmaster and its impregnability cannot avoid ”. Market power. “

Despite this alleged negative impact on consumers, Live Nation and Ticketmaster have “continued to thrive by engaging in exclusive anti-competitive deals with major concert hall operators” and “numerous other unfair and anti-competitive acts,” the lawsuit said.

The latter acts include improper use of Ticketmaster’s “conditional copyright license … consent to exclusive use of Ticketmaster’s secondary ticketing platform,” claim plaintiffs.

This conditional license, the lawsuit alleges, is a supposedly “per-consumer” tool that “allows users to view Ticketmaster’s website and access its content only if they agree to a variety of restrictions imposed by the brokers from buying tickets from Ticketmaster and then reselling them ”. on competing secondary ticketing platforms.

“Ticketmaster’s conditional license plays into this scheme by acting as the sword that Ticketmaster wields against ticket brokers if they do not agree to its anti-competitive demands,” the document continues. “Simply put, Ticketmaster assigns primary tickets for a broker to a Ticketbank when that broker agrees to resell their tickets through Ticketmaster’s secondary ticket platform.”

Next, after reverting to the earlier mentioned idea that Live Nation “shamelessly violated” a Justice Department approval decree (now running until 2025), the unqualified lawsuit targets the company’s CEO, Michael Rapino.

“Endowed with this power over artist careers” – refers to the sizable portion of artist income derived from live shows – “and fueled by Ticketmaster’s inflated profits, Mr. Rapino has used this position to start the live music industry intimidate the use of Ticketmaster for primary ticketing services and more and more secondary ticketing services. “

The information- and data-driven lawsuit then highlights all sorts of supportive details and reiterates that “essentially all of the major concert venues in the country have long-term exclusive contracts with primary ticketing service providers” and states that most of the deals with Ticketmaster that took place in which usually run for five to seven years, are extended “because after these long-term exclusive trading agreements there is no effective competition with Ticketmaster”.

Also includes comparisons of ticketing fees for concerts for which Ticketmaster was the sole ticketing provider (versus non-Ticketmaster shows), a breakdown of the US ticket market versus that of the UK (“where no single provider has extensive exclusive offers for primary ticketing services ”) and an analysis of the defendant’s recent steps to establish a material presence in the secondary ticketing area.

Ultimately, “the result of the defendant’s efforts to collaborate with venues and ticket brokers is the significant reduction in competition in the relevant markets for primary and secondary ticketing services for large concert venues, thereby harming both competitors and consumers alike,” it says Lawsuit closes.

On charges of multiple violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act, plaintiffs are seeking indefinite damages, legal fees and more. Live Nation, which again called for an investigation by Congress last year, remains embroiled in a confrontation with Coachella in the courtroom.

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