Colorado joins lawsuit against concert promoter Live Nation, subsidiary Ticketmaster

Ticketmaster Antitrust Lawsuit
Ticketmaster tickets and gift cards are shown at a box office in San Jose, Calif., May 11, 2009. The Justice Department has filed a sweeping antitrust lawsuit against Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, accusing the companies of running an illegal monopoly over live events in America and squelching competition. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

Colorado joined the lawsuit on Thursday against the concert promoter Live Nation and its subsidiary Ticketmaster, saying the largest concert company in the world hurts concert fans, musicians and the venues by being actively anti-competitive.

Attorney General Phil Weiser signed onto the lawsuit with 30 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Department of Justice. 

The Live Nation and its subsidiaries control several large concert venues in the Denver area, including Empower Field at Mile High, Paramount, Coors Field, the Fillmore Auditorium. 

It directly manages more than 400 musical artists and in total controls around 60 percent of concert promotions at major concert venues across the country. 

“Live Nation … has used that power and influence to insert themselves at the center and the edges of virtually every aspect of the live music ecosystem,” the lawsuit said. “This has given Live Nation and Ticketmaster the opportunity to freeze innovation and bend the industry to their own benefit. While this may be a boon to Live Nation’s bottom line, there is a real cost to Americans.”

Weiser said fans are paying exorbitant fees for already expensive concert tickets. 

“This lawsuit calls for opening up competition in ticketing services and preventing Live Nation from using its other assets in ways that undermine competition,” he said. “It’s time to end … its ironclad grip on this market.”

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser at a committee hearing Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, at the state Capitol.

The lawsuit notes that Live Nation’s conduct, “allows them to exploit their conflicts of interest — as a promoter, ticketer, venue owner, and artist manager — across the live music industry and further entrench their dominant positions.”

“Because Live Nation and Ticketmaster control so much of the concert-going experience, would -be rivals must compete at scale across different levels of the concert ecosystem, raising barriers to competition even further and requiring multi-level entry by existing and would-be competitors,” the lawsuit said.

In a statement, Live Nation said its 1.4 percent profit margin is the “opposite” of a monopoly and that the lawsuit does nothing to help what fans care about, including concert ticket prices.

“We will defend against these baseless allegations,” the company said. “The DOJ will lose in court because it ignores the basic economics of live entertainment, such as the fact that the bulk of service fees go to venues, that competition has steadily eroded Ticketmaster’s market share and profit margin.”

The company continued, “our growth comes from helping artists tour globally, creating lasting memories for millions of fans and supporting local economies across the country by sustaining quality jobs.”

The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York.