The DOJ launches monopoly lawsuit against Ticketmaster

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The DOJ launches monopoly lawsuit against Ticketmaster

A reflection on Idolatry

June 3, 2024 -

Person holding smartphone with logo of US company Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. on screen in front of website. By Timon/stock.adobe.com

Person holding smartphone with logo of US company Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. on screen in front of website. By Timon/stock.adobe.com

Person holding smartphone with logo of US company Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. on screen in front of website. By Timon/stock.adobe.com

During the Covid lockdowns, live concerts, shows, and sports were off-limits to most Americans. So, people flocked to live events after venues opened up. We love to celebrate excellent artistry, athletic performance, and musical talent. Experiencing them live gives us a unique sense of participation in the display. So it’s no surprise that the demand for tickets continues to rise—but are some companies taking advantage of consumers? After years of outrageous ticket prices, the DOJ is finally suing Live Nation Entertainment for its alleged monopoly.

What is Ticketmaster?

Live Nation Entertainment was created when Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in 2010. Live Nation is the leading operator of concert venues, while Ticketmaster is by far the largest ticket sales platform. So, the anti-monopoly lawsuit comes as “no surprise” to many analysts.

Forbes notes that “Between 2010 and 2023, consumers have paid much more for live entertainment—more than four times the average rate of inflation.” While concert tickets used to cost around $70 in 2010, they cost an average of $252 in 2023. Fans have long complained about the extortion they feel under Ticketmaster’s thumb.

Ticketmaster often holds back tickets for the secondary market, and resellers (or “scalpers”) can inflate the prices using bots. Tickets to Taylor Swift concerts were particularly shocking. Some were listed as high as $76,000 on StubHub. The extra fees added to a regular ticket can account for as much as 78 percent of the final price.

According to PBS, Ticketmaster holds around 70 percent of the market. The DOJ claims that Live Nation squashes competition unfairly through its business practices. Specifically, Ticketmaster frequently locks in artists with exclusive contracts, allowing them to sell tickets at exorbitant prices. Ticketmaster, of course, denies having a monopoly.

Will the lawsuit mean cheaper ticket prices?

In the short term, this won’t change much because the lawsuit will likely last years. With revenue of around $16 billion, Ticketmaster’s elite legal team will fight the DOJ for as long as possible. Even then, it may not necessarily lower prices as demand continues to increase.

Perhaps the silver lining is that smaller artists could benefit from the out-of-reach ticket prices. Many people won’t be able to afford Beyonce tickets, but everyone can afford to see a local band. Since a sense of participation is the driving force behind going in person anyway, attending smaller events can actually create a more enjoyable experience. Some of my favorite memories of concerts were those shared with only a few dozen to a few hundred attendees.

The temptation of idolatry

John Calvin famously called man’s nature a “perpetual factory of idols” in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. In the modern world, high ticket prices indicate something in our culture—we value entertainment. We celebrate and hold our entertainers in high esteem, creating a unique celebrity culture—often marked by greed, excess, and sensuality.

Celebrities can also mirror our own hearts, representing the extremes after which our culture strives. We value wealth, good looks, individuality, and talent. None of these are bad in themselves, but all are easy candidates for the temptation to covet and make it much more difficult to find contentment in the Lord (Philippians 4:11).

Consider your own heart and reflect on your mind; what do you value? What is praiseworthy? Only God can fulfill our ultimate desires for goodness, truth, and beauty. Only God truly deserves glory, and to him belongs all praise. None of this means we can’t appreciate or partake in music, theater, sports, and other forms of entertainment. It simply means we must guard our hearts against putting humans, the image of God, in the place of God.

As Paul writes, “Therefore God gave them up in the [desires] of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 1:24-25)

Would you ask God to reveal your idols? Entreat the Holy Spirit to help you remove them and put God in his rightful place in your heart.

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