Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour Might Have Broken Up Live Nation

The Justice Department alleges violations of antitrust laws by maintaining a monopoly in the event-ticketing industry.

Photo of Taylor Swift at The Eras Tour
Photo by Paolo V via CC BY 2.0

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In this case, Taylor Swift is anything but the anti-hero.

The US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Live Nation, the parent company of Ticketmaster, alleging that it has violated antitrust laws by maintaining a monopoly in the event-ticketing industry. The suit, which was joined by 30 states, seeks remedies including a breakup of Live Nation.

I’m the Problem, It’s Me

One might ask how a single company comes to control roughly 80% or more of the ticketing business for major US concert venues in the first place, considering the monopoly risk didn’t appear that low back in 2010 when Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged to create one giant company. But, you see, the combined company promised it wouldn’t retaliate against venues that chose not to use Ticketmaster. According to the DOJ, Live Nation repeatedly violated that promise, leading to a modified settlement in 2019 to institute an external monitor. And in 2022, the Biden administration reopened a new probe after concerns it wasn’t abiding by the settlement terms. Which is all very staid and methodical — until you burn the Swifties:

  • Ticketmaster’s website crashed in November 2022 when tickets for Swift’s Eras Tour went on sale, with thousands reporting outages and others thrown on a waitlist instead of being able to obtain a precious presale code.
  • Swift quickly came to her fans’ defense, saying at the time it was “excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse.” And New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez perhaps prophetically tweeted: “Break them up.”

Cruel Summer: Live Nation is just the latest target in the Biden administration’s ramped-up antitrust policing. The DOJ has two epic monopoly cases going against Google and sued Apple in March for allegedly hindering smartphone innovations. Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission is pushing to force Meta to sell off its Instagram and WhatsApp divisions and sued Amazon last year for allegedly monopolizing marketplace services. No word yet on plans to investigate Swift’s monopoly of the Billboard charts.