Senate committee subpoenas Live Nation, Ticketmaster after months-long probe

FAN Editor

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino.

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

A Senate investigative subcommittee on Monday said it has issued a subpoena to Live Nation Entertainment and its Ticketmaster subsidiary for information regarding ticket pricing and fees after a months-long probe that had not been previously announced.

The subpoena “seeks records related to Live Nation/Ticketmaster’s failure to combat artificially inflated demand fueled by bots in multiple, high-profile incidents, which resulted in consumers being charged exorbitant ticket prices,” the subcommittee’s chair, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., wrote in a letter to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino.

In a statement Monday, Blumenthal said, “Live Nation has egregiously stonewalled my Subcommittee’s inquiry into its abusive consumer practices — making the subpoena necessary.”

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“American consumers deserve fair ticket prices, without hidden fees or predatory charges,” said Blumenthal. “And the American public deserves to know how Ticketmaster’s unfair practices may be enabled by its misuse of monopoly power.”

A Live Nation spokesperson, in an email to CNBC, said, “Live Nation has voluntarily worked with the Subcommittee from the start, providing extensive information and holding several meetings with staff.”

“In order to provide additional information requested about artist and client compensation and other similarly sensitive matters, we’ve asked for standard confidentiality measures,” the company spokesperson said. “Thus far the Subcommittee has refused to provide such assurances, but if and when those protections are in place we will provide additional information on these issues.”

Live Nation, an event promoter, and the ticket vendor Ticketmaster now control 70% of the market for tickets and live event venues after their merger more than a decade ago.

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations opened its probe in March after controversy over sales glitches and prices of tickets for concerts by Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen, according to Blumenthal’s panel.

The new subpoena seeks documents and internal communications about “ticket pricing, fees, and resale practices as well as the company’s relationship with artists and venues,” according to the panel.

“The request covers annual financial data related to fees, the company’s recommendations for ticket pricing, business strategies regarding ticket pricing, secondary ticketing, and bots, communications relating to high-profile incidents in 2022, and customer research and surveys regarding ticket pricing and fees,” the panel said.

Blumenthal, in his letter to Rapino last week, which contained the subpoena, wrote, “Despite nearly eight months and extensive efforts to obtain voluntary compliance, Live Nation/Ticketmaster has failed to fully comply with PSI’s requests, including refusing to produce certain documents critical to the Subcommittee’s inquiry.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee this summer held a hearing about Live Nation and the lack of competition in event ticketing’s primary and secondary markets.

“I just want to dispel this notion that this is not a monopoly and then we can go from there about solutions,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., at that hearing.

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