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Live Nation, which operates several major Atlanta venues, sued in antitrust case

Live Nation, which operates several major Atlanta venues, sued in antitrust case
Live Nation, which operates several major Atlanta venues, sued in antitrust case

According to the complaint, Live Nation and its subsidiary Ticketmaster stifled competition by acquiring or threatening retaliation against companies they viewed as threats and by signing long-term agreements with venues that prohibited them from working with multiple ticket companies. to offer the best price combination. among several other reasons. Live Nation’s anticompetitive behavior drove up prices and fees for consumers, the complaint alleges.

Live Nation is by far the most dominant entity in the live events industry in Atlanta. It holds long-term leases at the Chastain Park, Lakewood and Ameris Bank amphitheaters, owns and manages the Tabernacle downtown and operates the Buckhead Theater and the Coca-Cola Roxy at The Battery. Several of Atlanta’s largest venues use Ticketmaster as their primary ticket sales outlet, such as State Farm Arena and Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The litigation is unlikely to have an immediate impact on operations, and it could be some time before the matter is resolved.

Live Nation argued that ticket prices were beyond its control, emphasizing that artists and crews set prices and decided how tickets were sold. The company’s executive vice president of corporate and regulatory affairs, Dan Wall, said in a statement Thursday that factors such as increased production costs, artist popularity and online ticket scalping are “in reality responsible for the rise in ticket prices.

The Tabernacle in downtown Atlanta.  Photo: Ryon Horne/AJC

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Live Nation, which has denied for years violating antitrust laws, said Thursday that the lawsuit “will not resolve the issues that fans care about regarding ticket prices, service fees and access to shows highly demanded.”

Thursday’s lawsuit is the culmination of years of criticism against Live Nation from viewers, industry professionals and politicians. In 2010, Ticketmaster and Live Nation merged to form the now-dominant giant, which ended 2023 with $18.8 billion in concert revenue, $2.9 billion in ticket sales and $1.1 billion in income from concerts. sponsorship and advertising.

Regulators under Biden have moved aggressively to enforce federal antitrust laws and review mergers. But not all actions have been successful.

In 2022, the DOJ opened an antitrust investigation into Live Nation, made public shortly after the botched rollout of tickets for Taylor Swift’s Eras tour, the New York Times reported. Live Nation denied “(engaging) in conduct that could justify antitrust litigation.”

A few months later, in February 2023, after Beyoncé announced her tour, the Senate Judiciary Committee posted on X, formerly Twitter: “We’re watching, @Ticketmaster. »

James Sammataro, a partner at Pryor Cashman LLP who has represented a number of artists and labels in music-related litigation, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the lawsuit was expected.

Wearing a Taylor Swift outfit, Megan Webb, left, of Smyrna, and Morgan Lewis, of Woodstock, react as they pose for a photo in front of the Taylor Swift freight bus at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Friday, April 28, 2023, in Atlanta.  .  Taylor Swift and Janet Jackson will perform side by side Friday night, Jackson at State Farm Arena and Swift at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.  (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / [email protected]

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Credit: Jason Getz / [email protected]

“We have a real public feeling and a lot of chatter,” he said. “It was just a matter of time before there were restrictions.”

A number of concertgoers and industry professionals applauded the effort, particularly ardent fans of artists who paid double the advertised price for tickets. A music professional told .

The Future of Music Coalition, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that represents artists, praised the lawsuit, which it called “courageous.”

“It’s a great day for musicians and for music fans,” the band said on X.

Robert Reich, former President Bill Clinton’s labor secretary, called the lawsuit a “big deal.”

“Amazon squeezed sellers and raised prices. Apple used its power to eliminate its challengers,” he wrote on X. “Ticketmaster/Live Nation leveraged its dominance to raise ticket prices and impose massive fees. Every company faces an antitrust lawsuit from (the) Biden administration.

-The Associated Press contributed to this report.