The US Department of Justice (DOJ) and 30 US States have launched an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment (LNE) demanding that its union with Ticketmaster be broken up in order to address the company’s alleged market dominance.

The DOJ’s 128-page filing alleges LNE, which merged with Ticketmaster in 2010, has violated antitrust laws.

US attorney general Merrick Garland said that it is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster: “Live Nation relies on unlawful, anticompetitive conduct to exercise its monopolistic control over the live events industry in the United States at the cost of fans, artists, smaller promoters, and venue operators.”

The lawsuit, filed in New York yesterday (23 May), claims that LNE has used a monopoly to suppress competition and to “insert themselves at the centre and the edges of virtually every aspect of the live music ecosystem”. It states that LNE controls more than 400 music acts and approximately 60% of concert promotions at major venues in the US, while owning or controlling over 265 concert venues in North America. It also said that via Ticketmaster, LNE controls around 80% of primary ticketing for major concert venues in the US.

During a press conference Garland said, “The justice department filed this lawsuit on behalf of fans who should be able to go to concerts without a monopoly standing in their way. We have filed this lawsuit on behalf of artists who should be able to plan their tours around their fans and not be dictated by an unlawful monopolists. We have filed this lawsuit on behalf of the independent promoters and venues which should be able to compete on a level playing field. And we have filed this lawsuit on behalf of the American people.”

In response to the legal action, LN claimed the allegations were baseless: “We will defend against these baseless allegations, use this opportunity to shed light on the industry.”

LNE EVP corporate and regulatory affairs Dan Wall issued a lengthy statement in response to the lawsuit. He said the lawsuit follows intense political pressure on the DOJ to file it, and “a long-term lobbying campaign from rivals trying to limit competition and ticket brokers seeking government protection for their business model of scooping up concert tickets and jacking up the price.”