Live Nation, Ticketmaster Have Boosted Lobbying by Almost 400%
Since 2019, the promoter and its ticket-selling subsidiary have ramped up spending in Washington.
Live Nation president/CFO Joe Berchtold might have been the sole defender of his company’s 2010 merger with Ticketmaster at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January, but behind the scenes, he wasn’t alone.
Advising Berchtold and managing key relationships on Capitol Hill is a small army of over 30 lobbyists, deployed to defend the company from growing criticism by senators like Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. Klobuchar, who serves as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights, has made repeated calls to the Department of Justice to investigate Ticketmaster and break up the company if any wrongdoing is uncovered during a DOJ review of the consent decree it created to foster competition in ticketing. That review is expected to wrap up soon.
While Live Nation’s lobbying spending has been historically low for a company of its size and domi- nance, that’s changing. Last year, the company spent nearly five times as much on lobbying as it has in the past, according to data from Open Secrets, which uses public records to track such spending. From 2012 to 2018, Live Nation spent an average of $225,000 annually to lobby federal officials. In 2022, its annual lobbying expenses had increased to $1.1 million.
The company’s agendas include defending criticism regarding Ticketmaster’s handling of the Swift presale last November.
One of those insiders is Seth Bloom, a former longtime general counsel for the Senate’s antitrust subcommittee and advisory board member for the American Antitrust Institute. Another is Jonathan Becker, a former chief of staff and chief counsel to Klobuchar who now serves as a partner at law firm Mayer Brown.
Live Nation now spends significantly more than its competitors in the touring sector. Last year, enter- tainment conglomerate AEG spent $140,000 on federal lobbying, according to Open Secrets, while secondary-market ticketing competitor SeatGeek spent $170,000 and Viagogo, the British company that bought StubHub in 2020, spent $140,000. Live Nation partner company Oak View Group spent $570,000 on lobbying, while Spotify, which has rolled out a new ticketing offering for concert promoters and is hoping to broaden its reach within the live space, spent $710,000.
Live Nation could spend even more this year as it ramps up efforts to exit the consent decree once the five year extension ends in 2024. The company now has more than seven lobbying firms working for it on issues that include ticketing, event safety and Federal Aviation Administration rules on the use of drones at events.
UPDATE: This article was updated at 6:15 p.m. EST on March 10 to correct a mention of Jonathan Becker’s clients.