The United States Department of Justice is opening an antitrust investigation into Live Nation Entertainment, The New York Times reports. The company, which owns Ticketmaster, has faced increased scrutiny after fans struggled to buy tickets to Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. The investigation, according to The Times, “is focused on whether Live Nation Entertainment has abused its power over the multibillion-dollar live music industry.” The decision to open the investigation, however, was reportedly made before the issues with the Eras Tour tickets.
Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged back in 2010, leading to the creation of Live Nation Entertainment. The Justice Department accepted the merger on the condition that Ticketmaster sold another ticketing company it owned to a rival firm. In addition, it had to license its ticketing software to another rival, Anschutz Entertainment Group. In 2019, the Justice Department amended its agreement with Live Nation Entertainment after finding that the company violated terms of the original deal.
Tickets to Taylor Swift’s tour went on sale earlier this week through Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program, which is meant to limit the number of bots who can scoop up tickets ahead of actual fans. Demand was unprecedented, however, and users experienced technical difficulties and long wait times for the chance to buy tickets. As a result, Ticketmaster canceled today’s public on-sale date for tickets to the tour.
In a statement today, Swift wrote, “I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand we were assured they could. It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.”
Earlier this week, on the day that the Swift tickets went on sale, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, “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.”
In addition, Senator Amy Klobuchar wrote in a letter to Ticketmaster president and CEO Michael Rapino, “I write to express serious concerns about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its harmful impact on consumers. Reports about system failures, increasing fees, and complaints of conduct that violate the consent decree Ticketmaster is under suggest that Ticketmaster continues to abuse its market positions.”
Pitchfork has reached out to representatives for Live Nation and Ticketmaster for comment.