Live Nation Subpoenaed By Senate Panel, Disputes ‘Stonewalling’ Charge

GettyImages 1367002408
By Aitor Diago/Getty Images

A U.S. Senate subcommittee issued a subpoena to Live Nation last week, the latest escalation in a seemingly never-ending battle between lawmakers and the live entertainment giant.

The subpoenas, first reported by Rolling Stone, were confirmed by Sen. Richard Bluementhal, the chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

“Live Nation has egregiously stonewalled my Subcommittee’s inquiry into its abusive consumer practices—making the subpoena necessary. This subpoena demands that the company promptly comply with our request for documents essential to understand its business practices,” the Connecticut Democrat wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “American consumers deserve fair ticket prices, without hidden fees or predatory charges. And the American public deserves to know how Ticketmaster’s unfair practices may be enabled by its misuse of monopoly power.”

Live Nation disputes Blumenthal’s “egregiously stonewalling” charge — the company says it has shared more than 10,000 documents with the subcommittee — and says that it is merely seeking a standard confidentiality agreement with the committee, because the documents contain sensitive information about artists and payments.

“Live Nation has voluntarily worked with the Subcommittee for many months, and we’ve already provided over 10,000 documents and held several meetings with staff. The subcommittee is seeking additional information about how artists set prices and venues determine fees, but we do not feel comfortable sharing this information without standard confidentiality measures,” the company said in a statement. “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 topics. We remain committed to working with the Subcommittee and believe there are many paths to improve ticket buying – including letting artists determine resale rules, mandating all-in pricing nationwide, banning speculative ticket selling and more.”

According to RS, the subpoena seeks documents related to ticket prices and fees listed on Ticketmaster, as well as documents related to “resale practices as well as the company’s relationship with artists and venues. Specifically, the subpoena requests cover annual financial data related to fees; Live Nation/Ticketmaster’s guidance or recommendations for ticket pricing; business strategy documents and analyses regarding ticket pricing, secondary ticketing, and bots; communications relating to high-profile incidents with bots in 2022 and certain venues; and customer research and surveys regarding ticket pricing and fees.”

In a blog post, Dan Wall, Live Nation’s executive vice president for corporate and regulatory affairs, further explained the company’s position, saying that since the investigation began in late March, LN has voluntarily turned over voluminous amounts of information and met with subcommittee staff on numerous occasions. The sticking point is the documents containing the sensitive information.

“Some of the information requested from Live Nation is highly sensitive client information about artists, venues and others with whom we deal,” he wrote. “It addresses plainly confidential subjects such as how much money artists make from their tours which in any other government investigation would be produced subject to binding confidentiality protections to prevent its misuse.  In fact, in other investigations Live Nation has without objection produced the same or similar information subject to confidentiality protections,

“We have told the Subcommittee repeatedly that we would produce such information with normal confidentiality protections—nothing greater than other branches of the federal government routinely provide—but not without them.  The Subcommittee has refused to provide any confidentiality protections at all. That has led to an impasse that left us with no procedural option other than to decline to produce the third-party confidential information at issue.”

The subpoena calls for CEO Michael Rapino to appear before the committee December 18 if the documents are not produced.

Wall wrote the subpoena was an expected step.

“It is only in a subpoena enforcement action that Live Nation can assert its rights to protect the confidentiality of this information,” he wrote. “While the subpoena is an unnecessary drain on taxpayer resources, we have been and remain prepared to work with the Subcommittee to address any legitimate investigative needs in the way that government agencies do every day with countless other subpoena recipients: using standard procedures to prevent the misuse of confidential information.

“Our limit in this process—that the Subcommittee Chair has chosen to call stonewalling—is simply that we value our artist relationships and the interests of other stakeholders we work with too much to betray their trust by turning over their information without adequate protections.”

Blumenthal is also a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Competition, Antitrust Policy and Consumer Rights, which held a hearing in January regarding Live Nation’s role in the live industry following the Taylor Swift “Eras Tour” ticket debacle. That subcommittee is chaired by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the Minnesota Democrat who last month claimed Live Nation was not living up to the pledge it made to the White House to implement all-in ticket pricing. Live Nation has implemented all-in ticketing for shows at its operated venues for sale on Ticketmaster and gives other venues the option to use all-in pricing, though the company cannot force them to do so.