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If Taylor Swift broke Ticketmaster, why does DOJ's Live Nation lawsuit invoke a little deja vu?

Christie D’Zurilla, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES — “Taylor Swift Broke Ticketmaster!”

That was the gist of headlines two years ago, when Swift’s Eras Tour resulted in a ticket-sales fiasco of epic proportions. Hordes of Swifties freaked out over a) their inability to score face-plus-fees entree to the Tour of the Century or b) their inability to even connect to the Ticketmaster website amid the crushing demand.

But then many jilted Swifties, or their parents, snagged resale tickets for many times face value from third parties that may have been using ticket-buying bots. And the world kept turning, as it had despite similar frustrations in recent years by fans of Beyoncé, Adele and Bruce Springsteen.

A group of TSwift fans did file a class-action lawsuit against Ticketmaster over its handling of the Eras Tour when a planned public sale of tickets was canceled because of what the ticketing agency described as “extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems” resulting in “insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand.”

(“It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets,” Swift wrote in a November 2022 statement on social media, “but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.”)

And now, the U.S. Department of Justice, 29 states and the District of Columbia are riding in on a Beyoncé-level white horse, filing an anti-monopoly lawsuit against Ticketmaster parent Live Nation Entertainment.

 

But haven’t we been here before?

In May 1994, Pearl Jam — then the biggest act in music — filed a complaint with the Justice Department alleging Ticketmaster had an effective monopoly over ticket distribution in the United States and had influenced promoters to reject a low-priced tour the band was planning to launch that summer. Pearl Jam’s complaint set off a DOJ investigation into the company and its possible anti-competitive ticketing practices.

But after a yearlong investigation, Justice declined to bring a case against Ticketmaster.

“From Day One we have correctly maintained that Pearl Jam had the ability to tour on its own. But the band, which has accused us of everything short of breaking up the Beatles, seemed more interested in perpetuating the feud than in scheduling concert dates,” Alan Citron, then a senior VP at Ticketmaster, wrote in The Times in April 1995. He pointed out that after a year of public drama, Pearl Jam had secured a ticket-handling discount for its fans that was “less than the price of this newspaper,” which at the time was 50 cents.

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