Following months of rumors and speculation, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against Live Nation and its subsidiary Ticketmaster—but not for the reason many may think. Despite the media’s emphasis on ticket price increases, the DOJ lawsuit is primarily focused on coercive contracts.

Ticket prices for the biggest concerts are certainly high. More competition could help lower prices a little bit, of course, but ticket prices are high largely because consumers want and value those tickets. That’s a reality that Uncle Sam’s competition enforcers cannot fix with more lawsuits.

In its complaint, the DOJ argues that Live Nation and its subsidiary Ticketmaster have created and operate an illegal monopoly. They argue that Live Nation has obtained dominant market power over every facet of the live music industry, ranging from ticket sales to promotion of popular artists to venue ownership.

Through the eyes of the DOJ, these anticompetitive practices reinforce one another through what they refer to as a “flywheel.” The department alleges that Live Nation uses financial threats, mostly implicit but occasionally explicit, to coerce the use of its ticketing platform. All serious accusations, so it’s unsurprising that the DOJ requested that, at a minimum, Live Nation divest from Ticketmaster and that further action be taken if necessary.

Separating Ticketmaster from Live Nation might create more competition, which could help lower prices at the margin. But since prices are also rising because consumers want tickets and value concert attendance—especially for concerts featuring popular artists like Taylor Swift—consumers should not expect competition enforcers to fix this problem with litigation.

Post-pandemic inflation certainly plays a role here too, but ticket prices have significantly outpaced those price increases—a trend that is likely to continue.

In 2023, demand skyrocketed for the most popular artists and bands, with frontrunner Taylor Swift’s ticket sales breaking records by selling 2.4 million tickets on the first day they were available. The rest of the top ten most popular artists also experienced a high volume of ticket sales. Ticket sales for the most popular artists are up significantly from 2019, and so far, 2024 is likely to break that record.

Read the full Real Clear Markets article here.

Trey Price is a policy analyst with the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization. For more information about the Institute, visit us at www.TheAmericanConsumer.Org or follow us on X @ConsumerPal.