- The Justice Department has been investigating Ticketmaster owner Live Nation Entertainment, NYT reports.
- Live Nation and Ticketmaster have been criticized after a bungled presale for Taylor Swift’s tour.
- The investigation predates the presale this week, per the report, and is focused on antitrust concerns.
Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, is being investigated by the US Department of Justice over antitrust concerns and potential abuse of power in the music industry, The New York Times first reported Friday.
In 2010, Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged after the deal was approved by the Justice Department.
The investigation was opened before Ticketmaster experienced issues during the presale for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, according to the report, which eventually led the ticket company to scrap the general sale, which had been scheduled for Friday.
The Department of Justice declined an Insider request for comment.
Presale for “verified” Ticketmaster fans started at 10 a.m. local venue time on Tuesday, but people reported waiting in long lines and system crashes as they waited to get tickets.
The issues drew widespread criticism among Swift’s fanbase, and the cancellation of Ticketmaster’s general ticket sale further exacerbated the issue, leaving fans looking to attend the concert to pay prices up to thousands of dollars on resale sites.
Live Nation’s chairman told CNBC the presale was only supposed to be open to 1.5 million “verified” fans, but the website had 14 million visitors.
“Despite all the challenges and the breakdowns, we did sell over 2 million tickets that day,” Greg Maffei said. “We could’ve filled 900 stadiums.”
David Balto, the former policy director of the Federal Trade Commission and a public antitrust lawyer, previously told Insider he anticipated something similar to the DOJ’s reported investigation. Balto testified against the Live Nation and Ticketmaster merger, saying the latter “holds a monopoly in the ticket sales market,” and a merger would cause “less choice and higher prices.”
“The merger has led to substantially higher ticketing fees by Ticketmaster, less innovation in the market, and probably a reduction in concert promotions,” Balto told Insider’s Juliana Kaplan.
After fans started complaining about the ticket buying process on Ticketmaster on Tuesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused the company of monopolizing the industry.
“Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, it’s merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in. Break them up,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
Balto told Insider he thinks breaking up the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster “will be a major priority for the antitrust division.”
In a message to fans on Friday, Swift said on Instagram that she’s “trying to figure out how this situation can be improved moving forward. I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could.”