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Minnesota joins lawsuit accusing Live Nation of live entertainment monopoly

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ST. PAUL — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has joined the U.S. Department of Justice and 29 other attorneys general in a lawsuit accusing Live Nation of an illegal monopoly in the live entertainment industry.

The antitrust lawsuit filed Thursday, May 23, in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York calls Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, a “monopolist” and “gatekeeper for the delivery of nearly all live music in America today.”

Live Nation controls about 60% of concert promotions at major venues nationwide, the lawsuit claims, and Ticketmaster controls 80% or more of ticketing at major venues.

“The result is that fans pay more in fees, artists have fewer opportunities to play concerts, smaller promoters get squeezed out, and venues have fewer real choices for ticketing services,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in announcing the lawsuit.

The lawsuit asks the court to stop Live Nation’s anticompetitive practices and order the company to divest Ticketmaster.

Ticketmaster agreed to merge with Live Nation on Feb. 10, 2009, according to the complaint, which notes the two entities were competitors at the time.

“One of the major drivers of inflation in this country is corporate greed and illegal behavior — and Live Nation and Ticketmaster are prime examples,” Ellison said in a statement. “People are fed up with having no option but to fork over their hard-earned money for the high prices and hidden fees that Ticketmaster routinely charges.”

The lawsuit accuses Live Nation of harming fans through higher fees than if the industry was competitive, Ellison said in the release.

It also accuses Live Nation of using long-term, exclusive ticketing contracts to maintain its monopoly, in turn threatening that venues will lose access to artists and tours controlled by the company if those venues sign with another ticketing organization.

By controlling large venues, the lawsuit alleges, Live Nation forces artists to select the company as a promoter, thus creating a promotions monopoly.

“Consumers deserve an end to these obnoxious and monopolistic practices, including Live Nation divesting itself of Ticketmaster for good,” Ellison said.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said the consolidation of the ticketing market has put attending live events “out of reach” for many Americans. “The Justice Department is doing the right thing today by seeking to break up this monopoly that has long harmed fans, artists, and venues,” she said in a statement.

Klobuchar is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights.

In addition to the DOJ and Ellison, the lawsuit was filed by the attorneys general of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Minnesota legislators

passed a law earlier this month to require more regulation

in the ticketing industry.

HF 1989,

which Gov. Tim Walz signed into law on May 7, requires ticket sellers to list the full price, including fees, on their website. The bill goes into effect in January.

Kaity Young is a news editor at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. She joined the company in 2018 and enjoys learning about her community and the region through editing news stories.

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