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21 Years Ago: Pearl Jam File a Complaint Against Ticketmaster With the Justice Department

Pearl Jam
Frank Micelotta, Getty Images

Twenty-one years ago — at the height of their popularity — Pearl Jam, dissatisfied with the rising costs of their concert prices, took on ticket distributing giant Ticketmaster.

In 1994, Pearl Jam were coming off their breakthrough 1991 debut, Ten, and its 1993 follow-up, Vs. However, the Seattle alt-rockers — who were making concerted efforts to cap ticket prices for their fans — were troubled to discover Ticketmaster was adding what they deemed to be excessive service fees. As a result, the band effectively boycotted Ticketmaster by organizing a tour with venues that didn’t have contracts with the ticketing company. The decision led Eddie Vedder and company on a cross-country grassroots tour to nontraditional venues relatively off the beaten path.

By May 6, 1994, Pearl Jam had issued a formal complaint against Ticketmaster with the U.S. Justice Department, citing the company’s anti-competitive and monopolistic business practices. Guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament offered testimony before a congressional subcommittee in Washington, D.C.

Ultimately, however, Pearl Jam were forced to cancel their plans for a summer tour in support of Vs. due to the difficulty of organizing concerts with venues not affiliated with Ticketmaster. What’s more, the band reportedly had to postpone the release of their third full-length, 1994’s Vitalogy, as a result of the boycott. The DOJ eventually dropped its case against Ticketmaster and Pearl Jam folded — at least in part — to Ticketmaster, enlisting the company’s services for portions of their next tour.

Seven years later in a 2001 interview with Spin, Ament reflected on the band’s hard-fought battle with Ticketmaster, saying he and his bandmates “were so hardheaded about the tour. [We] had to prove we could tour on our own, and it pretty much killed us, killed our career.”

Ticketmaster meanwhile remains one of the largest ticket distributors in the world, which was further solidified when the company merged with concert promoter Live Nation to form Live Nation Entertainment in 2009.

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