Live Nation, Ticketmaster Sued Again for ‘Predatory and Exclusionary Conduct’
Consumers’ class action suit revisits claims defendants have created a “barrier to entry” in the primary and secondary ticketing markets
A new class-action lawsuit seeking to represent any Ticketmaster customers who purchased tickets since last July claims the vendor and its Live Nation Entertainment parent represent a monopolistic “monster” that “must be stopped.”
The complaint, obtained by Rolling Stone and filed Jan. 4 in federal court in Los Angeles, is a follow-up attempt to sue the industry behemoth in public court after a similar, prior lawsuit — which claimed the defendants caused a “barrier to entry” for competition — was forced into arbitration.
With new lead plaintiffs hailing from California, Florida, and Ohio, the latest lawsuit alleges Ticketmaster and Live Nation started using a new arbitration service last July that forces “aggrieved consumers” into “batched arbitration proceedings” that are “one-sided.”
The plaintiffs are asking the court to find the new arbitration system “unfair” and let them argue in open court their ongoing claims that Live Nation and Ticketmaster have “engaged in predatory and exclusionary conduct to monopolize the primary ticketing services market and to extend their dominance into the secondary ticketing services market.”
“Plaintiff’s attorneys have made prior, unsuccessful attempts to bring nearly identical class actions. We are confident in the judicial process,” a rep for Live Nation Entertainment said in a statement sent to Rolling Stone on Wednesday.
By way of background, the new complaint says that while Live Nation and Ticketmaster agreed they wouldn’t threaten to withhold artists based on whether a venue selects Ticketmaster as its ticketing service provider, the merged company violated the agreement, leading to a new settlement with the DOJ in 2019 that extended the consent decree another five-and-a-half years.
“Defendants’ predatory acts have increased and today threaten the entirety of competition within the primary and secondary ticketing services markets,” the new complaint states.
The plaintiffs allege that with Ticketmaster now providing the bulk of the merged firm’s annual operating income, Live Nation has tightened its “stranglehold” on the industry, because it can “offer higher payments to artists than AEG Live and other concert promoters.”
And with Live Nation boasting the best talent and highest-grossing tours, “venue operators must take into account the very real possibility that Live Nation Entertainment will not route tours through their venues if they do not select Ticketmaster as their primary ticketing service provider,” the lawsuit claims.
Beyond accusing Live Nation and Ticketmaster of monopolizing the primary ticketing market, the suit also alleges the defendants are taking over the secondary market, where original ticket purchasers can sell their tickets to others.
The suit claims Ticketmaster and Live Nation “force secondary ticket brokers into agreeing to exclusively use Ticketmaster’s secondary ticketing platform” if they want to buy in bulk.
“If the broker does not agree, then Ticketmaster will use the conditional license to try and keep the broker off its platform,” the lawsuit claims. “It is able to do so with impunity because of the power Ticketmaster holds over the supply of primary tickets at major concert venues, and because Live Nation Entertainment, as the dominant concert promoter in the nation, controls the vast bulk of major concert tours.”
The plaintiffs, who could number in the “hundreds of thousands if not millions,” according to the suit, seek triple and punitive damages, along with injunctive and declaratory relief to stop the alleged threatening.
The court has not yet ruled on whether the proposed class action should be diverted to arbitration.
From Rolling Stone US.