Illinois, DOJ move to break up Live Nation and Ticketmaster

Music fans might soon see relief from high ticket prices and endless fees as the Justice Department announced a lawsuit aimed at splitting up Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday in revealing the legal action, alleging that the entertainment giants hold an illegal monopoly on the live music industry.

"Live Nation's anti-competitive business practices have led to higher costs and fewer choices for fans seeking live entertainment in Illinois," Raoul said in a statement.

Garland echoed Raoul’s concerns and emphasized the need for a breakup.

"Live Nation suffocates its competition using a variety of tactics, from acquisitions of smaller venues to threats of retaliation and agreements with others to neutralize them," Garland said. "It is time to break up Live Nation and Ticketmaster. The American people are ready for it."

Garland and Raoul argue that eliminating excessive fees and introducing more competition into the market will lower prices, improve quality for fans, and benefit artists seeking alternative management options.

The announcement was met with approval from longtime Chicago concert promoter Jerry Mickelson, founder and CEO of Jam Productions, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last year. Mickelson argued that Live Nation and Ticketmaster's dominance has harmed companies like his and increased costs for fans.

"Live Nation had already shut Jam out of arena and outdoor concerts, and they weren’t done gobbling up the competition," Mickelson told senators. "Now, Live Nation is going after music venues and clubs of all sizes. The near-complete domination of arenas because of the merger could soon happen to music venues – large and small – in every community in the country."

Live Nation and Ticketmaster dismissed the lawsuit as a "PR win" and expressed confidence in their legal position. They stated that the suit "ignores the basic economics of live entertainment, such as the fact that the bulk of service fees go to venues, and that competition has steadily eroded Ticketmaster’s market share and profit margin."

The companies also noted that the Justice Department approved their merger in 2010 under the Obama administration.