Senate committee takes on Ticketmaster after Taylor Swift ticket debacle
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The CEO of Live Nation Entertainment is set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. Live Nation is the venue and promotion company that merged with Ticketmaster more than a decade ago, forming a behemoth in the live entertainment industry.
Expect lots of pointed questions about what went wrong with the sale of Taylor Swift concert tickets last year. But perhaps a bigger question is whether the federal government really going to do anything about it.
There’s an old expression antitrust lawyers have for how hard it is to unwind a merger: “It’s called, ‘unscrambling the eggs.’ Once the eggs have been scrambled, it’s tough,” said Michael Carrier, a professor at Rutgers Law School.
The Department of Justice approved the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger in 2010. Critics like Carrier were concerned not only about higher fees, but also a vertically-integrated monopoly.
Live Nation repped musicians, and Ticketmaster had the tickets, which meant Live Nation could threaten competing venues.
“Hey venue, you want access to our artists you have to use our tickets. Or you want access to our ticketing, you have to use our artists,” Carrier said.
A DOJ investigation in 2020 found Live Nation was doing just that. Live Nation denied the findings. Another DOJ investigation is reportedly underway.
Diana Moss at the American Antitrust Institute said a decision to break up the company could lead to even more egg unscrambling in other industries.
“It not like we’re short on monopolies or oligopolies in the United States,” Moss said.
Live Nation declined to be interviewed for this story.
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