US Justice department probes Live Nation’s agreements with venues, artists -WSJ

(Reuters) -The U.S. Justice Department’s investigation into Live Nation is focusing on whether the company uses anticompetitive agreements with venues and artists, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The probe is looking at any restrictions in the deals that Live Nation offers, including whether the agreements restrict venues’ ability to work with other promoters or ticket services, the report said.

Enforcers in recent weeks have sent document retention letters to talent agencies whose touring divisions arrange contracts between artists and promoters like Live Nation, according to the report.

A spokesperson for Live Nation said: “We participate in competitive bidding for both artist and venue deals.”

“That competition has only increased in recent years, and we welcome any discussion on our specific business practices as this growing industry continues to evolve.”

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In July, Politico reported that the Justice Department could file an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation and its unit Ticketmaster by the end of the year.

Earlier this year, U.S. senators slammed Ticketmaster over its handling of ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s concert tour that frustrated fans and generated complaints.

Ticketmaster in November 2022 canceled a planned ticket sale to the general public for Swift’s tour after more than 3.5 billion requests from fans, bots and scalpers overwhelmed its website.

Ticketmaster has previously denied using anti-competitive practices and said it remained under a consent decree with the Justice Department following a 2010 merger, adding that there was no “evidence of systemic violations of the consent decree.”

(Reporting by Urvi Dugar and Gursimran Kaur in Bengaluru; Editing by Sandra Maler, Cynthia Osterman and Edwina Gibbs)