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‘It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster’: Justice Department sues concert ticket behemoth

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‘It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster’: Justice Department sues concert ticket behemoth

Penny Harrison and her son Parker Harrison rally against the live entertainment ticket industry outside the U.S. Capitol last year.

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The Department of Justice and 30 state and district attorneys general across the country filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against Live Nation Entertainment and its wholly owned subsidiary Ticketmaster. The suit alleges that Live Nation has created a monopoly on live event ticket prices across the United States. The civil antitrust suit was filed in the Southern District of New York.

This fight has been long in coming: Music fans and other consumers, performers, independent venues and even members of Congress have argued that Ticketmaster, which merged with Live Nation in 2010, had artificially pushed ticket prices sky-high. Live Nation has long been a dominant player in the live event marketplace, with substantial holdings in venues, concert promotions, music festivals, ticketing, sponsorship, advertising and artist management – holding so much power across so many aspects of the business, the Justice Department alleges, that it is effectively able to limit its competition.

If successful, this suit could reshape the live event landscape – and the prices fans pay to see their favorite performers – across the country.

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The state and district attorneys general joining the suit include several states that are home to major live event venues, including those of New York, California, Colorado, Florida and Texas.

In a lengthy statement provided to NPR on Thursday, Live Nation wrote in part: “The DOJ’s lawsuit won’t solve the issues fans care about relating to ticket prices, service fees, and access to in-demand shows. Calling Ticketmaster a monopoly may be a PR win for the DOJ in the short term, but it will lose in court because it ignores the basic economics of live entertainment, such as the fact that the bulk of service fees got to venues, and that competition has steadily eroded Ticketmaster’s market share and profit margin.”

Within the suit, the Department of Justice and the states allege that Live Nation and Ticketmaster engaged in several forms of anticompetitive conduct, including retaliating against other promotion companies and venues that worked with its rivals; locking out competitors with long-term, exclusive ticketing contracts; restricting musicians’ access to live event venues; and strategically acquiring smaller, independent companies that Live Nation allegedly perceived as threats to its dominance.

Earlier this month, in a bid to increase transparency for consumers, the House of Representatives passed the TICKET Act, which would force Live Nation and other ticket sellers to list all the costs and fees within a live event ticket price. The bill, which was introduced in the Senate by Ted Cruz of Texas, has been supported by hundreds of prominent musicians, including Billie Eilish, Dave Matthews and Nile Rodgers, who wrote in a joint statement: “We are joining together to say that the current system is broken: predatory resellers and secondary platforms engage in deceptive ticketing practices to inflate ticket prices and deprive fans of the chance to see their favorite artists at a fair price.”

According to Thursday’s filing, Live Nation Entertainment currently owns or controls over 250 concert venues across North America, and controls around 60 percent of concert promotions at major concert venues across the U.S. The company also directly manages more than 400 musical acts.

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In the suit, the Department of Justice and the states asserted: “With this vast scope of power comes influence. Live Nation and its wholly owned subsidiary, Ticketmaster, have used that power and influence to insert themselves at the center and the edges of virtually every aspect of the live music ecosystem.”

“It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland in a statement.

In the past, and again in its statement to NPR on Thursday, Live Nation argued that musicians — not its own company — are the ones to ultimately set their own ticket prices. Live Nation executive vice president of corporate and regulatory affairs Dan Wall said that the suit “ignores everything that is actually responsible for higher ticket prices, from increasing production costs to artist popularity, to 24/7 online ticket scalping that reveals the public’s willingness to pay far more than [what] primary tickets cost.”

“It is not surprising that Live Nation has pointed its finger at artists,” a senior Justice official said on background on Thursday morning. “In an industry in which artists have historically been squeezed for compensation for their creative work, it’s important that artists are properly compensated.”

“To us, that’s a little bit of a red herring,” the official continued, referring to Live Nation’s previous argument. “How is the system set up? How is Live Nation’s control at all levels of the system allowing for a process that’s distorted in part by Live Nation’s power?”

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The DOJ is pressing for “structural relief” – that is, it is asking the federal court to break up the Live Nation-Ticketmaster combined company, which the DOJ itself had approved in the 2010 merger. Justice Department officials are now arguing that since the merger, Live Nation has created a stranglehold on the live event industry.

Thursday’s case is the latest lawsuit by the Biden administration against major corporations that it has accused of abusing monopoly power. The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission have sued Apple, Google and Amazon. They’ve successfully stopped the mergers of publishers Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster and of JetBlue Airways with Spirit Airlines. They’ve also unraveled a partnership between JetBlue and American Airlines.

Last year, however, federal officials lost their bids to block the merger of Microsoft and videogame giant Activision Blizzard; of Facebook parent Meta with virtual-reality company Within Unlimited; and of insurer UnitedHealth Group with tech firm Change Healthcare.

“While we do not comment on specific enforcement matters, President Biden strongly supports fair and robust enforcement of the antitrust laws,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a statement Thursday. “The President launched the Strike Force on Unfair and Illegal Pricing because no American should pay higher prices or lose choices because companies break the law and engage in anti-competitive practices. His Administration has taken action to fight corporate greed by banning hidden junk fees—including event tickets—that unfairly increase prices for hardworking families trying to make ends meet. As the President has said, the American people are tired of being played for suckers.”

The announcement of the federal antitrust suit against Live Nation is just a first step in what will almost certainly be a long court process, so music fans likely won’t encounter lower ticket prices any time soon.

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With additional reporting by Alina Selyukh.

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David Lynch says he 'died a death' over the way his 'Dune' film turned out : Wild Card with Rachel Martin

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David Lynch says he 'died a death' over the way his 'Dune' film turned out : Wild Card with Rachel Martin

David Lynch says he felt like he lived three different lives as a teenager.

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David Lynch says he felt like he lived three different lives as a teenager.

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A note from Wild Card host Rachel Martin: David Lynch says that the first time he tried transcendental meditation, “It was as if I was in an elevator and someone snipped the cables — poof! Within I went.”

Down he plunged into his own subconscious.

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And that analogy — of being in an elevator cut loose — is also what it feels like to absorb Lynch’s work. Whether it’s the TV show Twin Peaks or the movie Mulholland Drive, it feels like you are plunging into a dark and surreal part of the human psyche and it’s totally confusing but also thrilling.

And frankly, that feeling of being in the elevator in free fall is a little like what talking to him feels like. Our conversation started with some lovely memories of his childhood and then the elevator drops and suddenly we’re way deeper inside Lynch’s mind than I expected to go and we’re all just along for the ride.

At 78, Lynch is still making art. He’s planning on releasing a new album with the artist Chrystabell in August. He told me the music began as a sound experiment he was working on. When he got Chrystabell to sing over the music, he found “she is perfect for this and in ways I can’t really explain.”

That said, he doesn’t think the new music is an easy listen. He says even he was turned off by it initially: “First hearing it — total bulls***.” But, he also says it opened up to him with repeated listens. “Second hearing, a little bit less. Third hearing, beauty.”

The album’s title, Cellophane Memories, is a reference to the way the music moved him. “It just clicked as being like a friend. And it conjures memories … in listening to this, all these way-distant memories started bubbling up. Something about this music conjured memories.”

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He says that will happen to anyone who listens: “You will find music that’ll bring back memories … that will bring so much beauty and happiness into your life. Beauty is so tender. It’s a tender music, but tender as in beautiful.”

This Wild Card interview has been edited for length and clarity. Host Rachel Martin asks guests randomly-selected questions from a deck of cards. Tap play above to listen to the full podcast, or read an excerpt below.

Question 1: What’s a moment from your childhood when you realized you wanted to make different choices than your parents?

David Lynch: I was on the front lawn of my girlfriend’s house — in the ninth grade. And I was meeting a fellow named Toby Keeler, who didn’t go to my high school. He went to a private school. And he was telling me that his father was a painter. And I thought at first his father was a house painter. But he said, “No, a fine art painter.” And a bomb went off in my head. A bomb that changed my life in a millisecond — completely changed my life.

And from that moment on, I wanted to be a painter — only that. So my father, being a research scientist for the Department of Agriculture, I never really wanted to be that. But wanting to be a painter, an artist, has made it for sure I wasn’t going to follow in my father’s footsteps.

Lynch poses in front of one of his artworks in 2007 at the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary art, during his exhibition “The Air is on Fire”.

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Rachel Martin: You had to have a high threshold for risk to pursue that path — or delusion, some might say. Where do you think that instinct came from, given that those weren’t things that were manifest in your parents’ life, necessarily?

Lynch: When you love something, there’s no problem. There’s no problem. You’re in love and you take whatever comes along. You’re in love.

Question 2: What was your form of rebelling as a teenager?

Lynch: Well, I lived three lives. I lived a home life. I lived a school life, with my sweetheart, my girlfriend. And the studio, you know, art life — and then also was a bit of a party animal.

So I had these three lives and I didn’t want any of them to mix, really. So I developed spasms of the intestines.

Martin: You developed a condition — so you created it for yourself? It was psychosomatic?

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Lynch: It was a psychosomatic disease, yeah.

Martin: And what did it do for you?

Lynch: I s*** my pants. That’s what happened. It was a horrible thing. However, I’ll tell you a good side of this. The Vietnam War was cooking up around this time. And my father took me to a doctor because the spasms in the intestines. I got a [colonoscopy]. And the guy was a great doctor and he pretended that — as he was watching — that it was a racetrack. And he said, “Here they go around this corner! They’re going around — such and such number seven is in the lead! And they’re going around this corner!” — following the [colonoscopy], you know, as he was telling me about my intestines. Anyway, he said, “You have spasms of the intestines,” and he said, “By the way, I see on the X-rays, you have a vertebrae out of place, and if you ever get called for the army, I can give you these X-rays, and you probably won’t be called if you want to get out.”

So spasms of the intestines led to a doctor that helped me get out, and I didn’t have to go to Vietnam.

Question 3: What failure have you learned the most from?

Lynch: My film Dune. I knew already one should have final cut before signing on to do a film. But for some reason, I thought everything would be OK, and I didn’t put final cut in my contract. And as it turned out, Dune wasn’t the film I wanted to make, because I didn’t have a final say.

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The trailer for David Lynch’s 1984 Dune.

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So that’s a lesson I knew even before, but now there’s no way. Why would anyone work for three years on something that wasn’t yours? Why? Why do that? Why? I died a death. And it was all my fault for not knowing to put that in the contract.

Question 4: Where have you experienced awe?

Lynch: My first meditation. I was at [the transcendental meditation] center and I’d just been taught. And I was taken to a little room and my teacher said, “Sit here, close the eyes. Sit here and start your meditation. I’ll be back in 20 minutes.”

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So I sat and closed my eyes and started what I just learned and boom! It was as if I was in an elevator and someone snipped the cables — poof! Within I went. Whoa. Bliss. The bliss that makes you cry. So beautiful. So powerful. Transcendental meditation is garbage going out, gold coming in.

I always say we are living like in a suffocating rubber clown suit of negativity. We don’t want to be clowns. We don’t want to have this heavy stinking rubber all around us of negativity.

You start transcending every day, the rubber starts disintegrating, evaporating. And freedom comes. Bliss starts coming. It just happens automatically. It’s so beautiful. Why isn’t everybody and his little brother meditating? I don’t know. Go figure.

Martin: I have to say, you seem to truly have found some level of contentment that I don’t think a lot of people have found.

Lynch: It’s all there within. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. And it’s a great trip we’re all on. It just makes it greater when you’re transcending every day. Money in the bank. 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes in the afternoon, and go about your business the rest of the time.

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Swanky airport lounges are arriving at LAX, like this Chase one. But who can get in?

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Swanky airport lounges are arriving at LAX, like this Chase one. But who can get in?

While a swanky airport lounge can’t alleviate Los Angeles International Airport’s infamous curbside gridlock, it can make it become a more distant memory.

The latest predeparture sanctuary that will land at LAX? It’s from a company best known for its bank branches. Chase announced on Thursday it will open a 9,234-square-foot Sapphire Lounge at Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT), near Gate 148. An opening date was not shared.

Dana Pouwels, head of airport lounge benefits and strategic partnerships for Chase, said the company is investing in meeting its customers where they are.

“Los Angeles is home to many cardmembers and a popular destination among Chase travelers,” Pouwels said. “And as a native Angeleno who frequently travels through LAX to visit home, I’m excited to bring a Chase Sapphire Lounge to my home city.”

Based on renderings, the premium Chase space will feature expansive tarmac views — a first for a lounge in TBIT’s main concourse — along with a dramatic waterfall-style chandelier above a granite and wood bar. While Chase was mum on proposed amenities, if it’s anything like the company’s other lounges now at five airports, expect it to skew higher-end.

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The first U.S. Sapphire Lounge for Chase debuted in Boston one year ago. Features include a gourmet buffet and à la carte dining (their Sapphire burger is a particular standout); dedicated wellness and shower rooms; and a residential-inspired design meant for both work and leisure. Meanwhile, the LaGuardia Airport location in New York that opened earlier this year even offers complimentary facials and ultra-high-end private suites (for a hefty additional fee).

Pouwels said the “space will pay homage to Los Angeles while embodying local modern elements that celebrate the culture of the city.”

To get unlimited access to Chase Sapphire Lounges in the U.S., travelers must be enrolled in the $550-per-year Chase Sapphire Reserve with Priority Pass membership. Those with a Priority Pass membership from another premium travel credit card (such as an Amex Platinum or Capital One Venture X) can enter a U.S. Sapphire Lounge once each calendar year at no cost.

Currently, there are no Priority Pass-accessible lounges at LAX, so Chase’s lounge will be a boon to a wide range of travelers once open.

The airport lounge wars continue

Lounge competition is fierce, especially among the major credit card companies. Access has widened dramatically in recent years as issuers push for premium card sign-ups and build out their own branded spaces. While that means more crowded lounges, it also means more options for travelers.

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in 2013, American Express entered the business of owning and operating airport lounges with the Centurion network. More recently, Chase’s Sapphire portfolio and Capital One’s lounges are the answer to the incumbent.

At LAX, Amex opened its Centurion Lounge in 2020, just a few steps away from Chase’s future site. The nearly 14,000-square-foot area features a variety of luxe amenities, including a bespoke food menu from executive chef Nancy Silverton, a spa area with chair massages and mini-manicures, and shower suites.

Dave Jones, deputy executive director of commercial development at Los Angeles World Airports, says that lounges improve the travel experience, especially as the airport redevelops. “LAX looks forward to providing our guests with more lounge options based on their consumer preferences, as well as accommodating the growing demand for lounge access,” he said.

Other LAX lounges in the pipeline

Chase isn’t the only player set to open a new lounge at the airport. Air France will unveil its first-ever LAX lounge at TBIT on June 21.

A carrier spokesperson said L.A. is one of the “most important markets for Air France” and is part of a wider global investment in lounges. When it opens, the LAX location will become the sixth Air France lounge in the U.S., joining Washington-Dulles, Houston Intercontinental, San Francisco, New York JFK and Boston.

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Meanwhile, over at Terminal 4, Delta Air Lines will open a high-end Delta One Lounge by the end of 2024. It will feature an outdoor terrace, over 10,000 square feet of space, and a seamless connection from an exclusive check-in area for Delta One passengers.

It’s part of the carrier’s strategy to offer a new “premium” tier of amenities for international business-class guests. “Premium lounge customers should feel welcomed and known when they walk in the door, just as they would at their favorite hotel or restaurant,” said Claude Roussel, vice president of Sky Club and lounge experience at Delta.

The first Delta One lounge will open in New York in late June.

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NPR’s Morning Edition invites your thoughts on marriage

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NPR’s Morning Edition invites your thoughts on marriage

For our upcoming summer series, NPR’s Morning Edition wants to hear your thoughts on marriage.

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This summer, Morning Edition brings you a series on love and marriage!

Whether married or not, we want to hear from you! Fill out the form below and someone from our team may reach out to hear more. You can also upload your responses as a voice memo, while keeping each answer to less than a minute. Please submit responses by Sunday, June 16 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

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Your submission will be governed by our general Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. As the Privacy Policy says, we want you to be aware that there may be circumstances in which the exemptions provided under law for journalistic activities or freedom of expression may override privacy rights you might otherwise have.

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