Today, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on anticompetitive practices in the entertainment industry, with a specific focus on the company LiveNation in the marketplace. LiveNation, the parent company of Ticketmaster, got some bad blood after the debacle of ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s Midnights album tour.
This is a slam-dunk antitrust case for regulators. Ticketmaster and LiveNation control access to many top venues around the U.S., 80 percent of the primary ticketing market, and the second-largest share of the ticket resale market. That is real market power.
We have seen Ticketmaster pressuring artists and venues to use their system, withholding thousands of tickets from sale to the general public, and helping ticket speculators circumvent anti-bot protections. At the same time, consumers can’t get access to tickets, and prices have continued to skyrocket—a clear example of consumer harm.
It’s obvious that this presents an antitrust enforcement action under the consumer welfare standard—the current legal framework in the U.S. for bringing antitrust cases. This already-existing legal criteria is meant to deter the government from targeting businesses based on political leanings. Under the consumer welfare standard’s 3-pronged test, the government must show a company’s market power, abuse of that power and proof that the company’s actions resulted in consumer harm. Clearly, LiveNation’s practices would fit under this framework.
Yet the Biden administration and progressives in Congress have been trying to change these effective guidelines to serve their own political goals. It’s mind-boggling that Biden’s Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission have wasted taxpayer resources and pursued legally-questionable antitrust enforcement actions, while simultaneously failing to address this clear case of consumer harm and anti-competitive practice in the ticket sales market.
While we’re glad to see the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is taking these anticompetitive practices seriously, antitrust law would not need to be changed to bring an enforcement action against LiveNation/Ticketmaster for this fiasco. This case of antitrust violations is so obvious that Mr. Magoo could find it.
Instead of wasting time and resources on frivolous lawsuits and constitutionally questionable power grabs, the government via the FTC and DOJ should use existing resources and laws to protect consumers and investigate Ticketmaster’s anti-competitive practices in the concert marketplace.
Please contact Krista Chavez at firstname.lastname@example.org with inquiries.