Live Nation president and CFO Joe Berchtold provided an update on the Department of Justice’s investigation into the company and its affiliated ticketing service, Ticketmaster, saying that he believes the DOJ is investigating certain business practices at the company, rather than the merged company itself.
“Our fundamental business model is not really being questioned,” Berchtold said Tuesday, adding that this is his opinion based on what he’s heard.
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Speaking at Goldman Sach’s Communacopia and Technology Conference, Berchtold said he believes the DOJ is looking into certain components that make up the business, such as exclusivity on venues, all-in pricing and selling tickets on the secondary market. This came amid media reports that the DOJ is conducting an antitrust investigation into whether Live Nation, with its acquisition of Ticketmaster, had a monopoly over the industry.
The investigation came on the heels of technical issues and long wait times for fans attempting to buy tickets to Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour last fall. A Senate Judiciary hearing was also held on the matter, led by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah).
Berchtold added that he believes the company’s business model, which can see Live Nation and Ticketmaster act as a venue owner or operator, ticket seller and promoter, “is both pro-competitive and pro-consumer.” As for the timeline for when the DOJ investigation will be through, Berchtold said it’s out of the company’s hands and the department will “take what time they take.”
Despite the degree of regulatory scrutiny surrounding the company in the past year, Berchtold said he believes the company is creating greater transparency around the practices in the ticketing industry, which he views as a net positive.
Live Nation has also been part of a consortium of ticket sellers that have pledged to show consumers all-in pricing, wherein buyers can see the price including fees upfront. While Berchtold had previously called for all-in pricing across the industry, as part of the FAIR Ticketing Reforms coalition, this effort was in tandem with President Biden’s larger push to cut down on junk fees.
The coalition has also called for allowing artists to determine resale rules, prohibiting the sale of speculative tickets and enforcing the 2016 BOTS Act.
Otherwise, Live Nation continues to see a high level of demand for concerts, with 128 million tickets sold for Live Nation shows so far this year and the expectation that Ticketmaster will sell more than 300 million fee-bearing tickets this year.
International concerts have been driving growth in the second half of the year, and Berchtold added that he thinks growth next year will come from arenas and amphitheaters, compared to the stadium shows that have driven the market over the past few years. Amid fears that big-name artists who have been circling the globe will start wrapping up their tours next year, slowing down the supply, Berchtold said the number of bookings at major venues, which includes confirmed shows or offers, is still up double digits in 2024.
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