Is Live Nation Legit or Scam? Consumer Reviews and Complaints

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  • Post published:February 9, 2024
  • Post category:Reviews

Live Nation is one of the largest ticket sellers and event promoters in the world. With Ticketmaster under its umbrella along with other major venues and festivals, Live Nation sells millions of tickets per year.

But is the company operating ethically and legally? There has been some controversy around Live Nation’s business practices that make some question if they are a legit company or a scam.

In this deep dive, we will examine Live Nation’s history, their acquisitions of competitors, lawsuits, and other criticisms to help readers understand if Live Nation is legit or a scam.

A Brief History of Live Nation

Live Nation formed in 2005 following the merger of major promoters Clear Channel Communications and Spin Magazine. The merger created a behemoth corporation that promoted events, managed venues, and sold tickets.

According to their website, Live Nation Entertainment now comprises Ticketmaster, Live Nation Concerts, and Live Nation Sponsorship. They promote over 40,000 events per year across 95 countries.

Some key stats about Live Nation:

  • Over 11,000 employees worldwide
  • Owns, operates, has exclusive booking rights or equity interests in over 300 venues including major ones like House of Blues and the Hollywood Palladium
  • Represents 500 artists for concerts and other live events
  • Sold over 500 million tickets in 2019 through Ticketmaster

So in terms of size and reach, Live Nation Entertainment is a legitimate major player in the live entertainment and ticketing industries. But their huge market share also worries some that they have become too dominant.

Acquisitions of Competitors

One source of antitrust criticism against Live Nation is that they have acquired many of their competitors over the years. For example:

  • In 2007, Live Nation purchased one of the world’s largest event promoters, House of Blues.
  • In 2008, Live Nation bought Ticketmaster for $2.5 billion. This consolidated their stranglehold on event ticketing.
  • In 2010, they merged with Ticketmaster into the new Live Nation Entertainment corporation.
  • In 2011, they acquired a majority stake in England’s largest promoter of live comedy, Festival Republic.
  • In 2015, they purchased a 51% stake in events promoter C3 Presents. C3 owns major festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits.

Acquiring all of these major players in events, venues, talent representation, and ticketing has made some uncomfortable. Live Nation now has no major competitors in the US for hosting events and selling the tickets to those events. This vertical integration could potentially lead to anti-competitive behavior.

Lawsuits and Controversies

With their huge market share and aggressive business tactics, it is no surprise that Live Nation has faced their fair share of lawsuits and controversies over the years. Here are some of the major ones:

Department of Justice Antitrust Investigation

When Ticketmaster and Live Nation first announced their merger in 2009, it immediately drew antitrust concerns. Having one company control so many aspects of live entertainment sounded monopolistic.

The Department of Justice launched an investigation into the merger and ultimately approved it, but with several conditions to protect competition.

These included not retaliating against venues that defect to competitors and being prohibited from forcing venues to contract with their promoter and ticketing together.

Class Action Lawsuits Over Fees

Multiple class action lawsuits have been filed against Live Nation and Ticketmaster over the years alleging unfair fees and deceptive practices.

In 2018, Live Nation settled one class action lawsuit and agreed to pay $7 million in credits to fans who had been charged excessive fees. However, critics said the credits barely scratched the surface of making up for these bad practices.

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Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam Challenge Ticketmaster’s Practices

Two major music stars have spoken out against Ticketmaster’s fees and stranglehold on the industry. Bruce Springsteen actually canceled a 2009 tour rather than use Ticketmaster because their practices were hurting his fans.

Pearl Jam testified before Congress in 1994 that Ticketmaster’s control allowed them to engage in anti-competitive behavior that hurt consumers. These testimonies from influencers brought bad PR for Live Nation.

Accusations of Predatory and Manipulative Practices

Besides just high fees, critics have accused Live Nation and Ticketmaster of various unethical business practices:

  • Using bots and insider connections to buy up tickets and then resell them at inflated prices
  • Manipulating the ticket buying experience to push consumers into more expensive ticket tiers
  • Misleading consumers on how few tickets remain to pressure them into buying
  • Lobbying politicians to allow predatory ticketing practices

A 2022 class action lawsuit accused Live Nation of tricking consumers into paying inflated prices and fees online. While Live Nation defends their practices as standard for the industry, many see them as manipulative.

Are There Legitimate Reasons for Live Nation’s High Fees and Control?

While Live Nation faces a lot of criticism for their practices, their spokespeople argue there are some legitimate justifications:

Just Keeping Up with Demand

Live Nation says ticket prices and fees have grown over the years simply because demand is so high to see top performers. As salaries rise and live events become more popular, fans are willing to pay higher premiums. They say their dynamic pricing models just help maximize revenue for in-demand shows.

Artists Benefit Too

The company argues that the higher ticket prices also let them pay artists more money. Top stars can now get a cut of dynamic ticket sales and premium packages. So the higher fees aren’t just benefiting Live Nation.

Providing More Convenience and Perks

Ticketmaster defends its sometimes controversial ticketing structure by saying it allows fans options. Their dynamic and demand-based pricing offers perks like premium seats to fans willing to pay more.

So essentially, Live Nation feels their business model is just adapting to the live industry marketplace. Some economists agree their practices make sense for maximizing revenue. But critics argue maximizing profits shouldn’t come at the expense of misleading fans.

Consumer Reviews of Live Nation Experiences

While critics and artists blast Live Nation’s business practices, what do everyday consumers have to say about their experiences buying tickets and attending Live Nation events? Looking at reviews online paints a mostly negative picture.

On Trustpilot, Live Nation currently has a “Bad” 1.2 out of 5 star rating based on over 100 reviews. 94% of the reviews are just 1 star.Common themes in the negative Trustpilot reviews include:

  • Feeling misled on ticket locations and views
  • No action from customer service on complaints
  • Excessively high fees or dynamic pricing seen as unfair
  • Issues with transfers, re-sales, or ticket delivery
  • VIP packages failing to deliver on promises

Some key complaints:

“I paid a significant premium for VIP tickets that promised crowd-free shopping and a merch collection. Neither existed. Live Nation was unwilling to resolve the issue.”

“Tickets were mis-sold as unrestricted view when I couldn’t even see the stage due to a lighting rig blocking us. Customer service response was basically ‘tough luck’.”

“Pre-sale/VIP tickets just took advantage of eager fans. I paid way over the odds and later saw better seats for cheaper.”

On Sitejabber, Live Nation has 2 stars out of 5 based on over 100 reviews. 78% are just 1 star. Again, the high fees, poor customer service and misleading experiences dominate the complaints.

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While some reviewers share positive experiences, the majority trend very negative due to the perception of unethical practices.

Live Nation’s History of Consumer Complaints and Lawsuits

Beyond just online reviews, Live Nation has faced its share of serious consumer complaints and legal action over its ticketing practices.

In 2018, they settled a class action lawsuit and paid $7 million in credits to fans charged excessing ticketing fees. The lawsuit alleged things like:

  • Misleading ‘all-in” ticket pricing that hid enormous back-end service fees
  • UsingTicketmaster’s dominant position to charge excessive fees

Other class action lawsuits have accused Live Nation of:

  • Tricking fans into buying more expensive tickets than they intended
  • Misleading consumers that tickets were selling out to create false demand
  • Using their market control to artificially inflate ticket prices

While Live Nation contends these tactics are legal and common industry practices, much of the public sees them as unethical and manipulative. And judges have agreed the allegations are concerning enough for several class action suits to move forward.

So while Live Nation is not an outright scam, they have a long history of complaints over exploitative business practices when it comes to ticket prices and fees. Consumers feel they use misleading tactics to wring as much money as possible out of fans. And when fans complain, they find Live Nation’s customer service generally unhelpful in response.

Tips for Buying Live Nation and Ticketmaster Tickets

Given Live Nation’s dominance of the industry, it can be hard to avoid theirTickets when attending major concerts and events. Here are some tips for getting the best deals and avoiding excessive fees:

  • Avoid buying tickets right when they first go on sale, as demand is highest
  • Be open to buying tickets a few weeks or months after the onsale if prices drop
  • Use pre-sale opportunities when available to access tickets before the general public
  • Check venues and artists’ websites directly since they sometimes sell tickets with lower fees
  • Buy group tickets to share the fees across more people
  • Consider reseller options like StubHub if prices end up lower closer to the event
  • Use mobile tickets whenever possible to avoid print fees
  • Understand all the fees shown – sometimes ‘cheaper’ ticket tiers have higher fees overall
  • Call the box office directly to buy tickets if possible

While Live Nation does hold a dominant market position, doing research and being patient can sometimes yield better deals. Relying on them out of convenience can often mean paying more fees in the long run.

The Verdict: Is Live Nation Legit or a Scam?

After examining all the evidence, what final conclusion can be drawn on Live Nation and their subsidiary Ticketmaster? Are they running an outright scam bilking fans? Or are they a normal business reacting to supply and demand?

The truth lies in the middle. Here are the key facts:

  • Live Nation Entertainment is absolutely a legitimate, major player in the live entertainment industry. They are not a fake or illegal company.
  • However, many of Live Nation’s business practices occupy a legal gray area and are seen by consumers as unethical. This includes things like:
  • Aggressively raising prices due to artificially high demand
  • Misleading ticket pricing and fees
  • Manipulative urgency tactics urging fans to buy
  • Poor customer service
  • Live Nation counters that they are just maximizing revenues, as many ticket sellers attempt to do. But most see their practices as exploitative.
  • The company has faced numerous lawsuits over these unethical practices. They will sometimes settle out of court, but continue using similar tactics afterwards.
  • Artists and fans feel Live Nation abuses their industry dominance at the expense of consumers. However, their monopoly position makes it hard for fans to avoid them.
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So in summary, while Live Nation operates legally, they engage in many controversial business practices that leave consumers feeling exploited. Fans face a difficult balancing act between seeing their favorite performers live and dealing with Live Nation’s unethical tactics.

Increased industry competition could perhaps curb their worst practices. But currently, Live Nation occupies an entrenched position, operating in unethical but legal gray areas of ticket sales. Consumers must educate themselves to avoid the worst of their power.

Key Takeaways: Is Live Nation Legitimate or a Scam?

  • Live Nation Entertainment is a large, legitimate company that dominates live event promotion, venues, artist representation, and ticketing sales. But their huge size and integration raises monopoly concerns.
  • Live Nation has acquired many of its major competitors over the years, including Ticketmaster, House of Blues, and controlling stakes in companies like Festival Republic. This consolidation worries anti-competition advocates.
  • Lawsuits and music artists like Bruce Springsteen have accused Live Nation of monopolistic practices that gouge consumers and hurt artists. Excess fees and limited ticket access are common criticisms.
  • However, Live Nation argues high ticket prices stem from high demand and provides more compensation for artists. They feel their ticketing practices maximize revenue.
  • While Live Nation’s practices are legal and standard in the industry, many see them as unethical and manipulative. Consumers can avoid the worst practices by buying early, directly, and using diligence.

So in summary, Live Nation has controversial business practices but operates legally. With buyer awareness, consumers can still attend events without excessive fees, but the company merits close scrutiny.

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