AG Platkin Joins Department of Justice, Other States Suing Live Nation

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TRENTON – Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin joined the Justice Department and a bipartisan coalition of 28 states and the District of Columbia in filing an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., which owns Ticketmaster, alleging that the company has illegally monopolized the live entertainment industry.

“For decades, New Jersey has long enjoyed a vibrant music scene—from jazz in Newark to rock on the Jersey Shore—and both fans and artists have been hurt by the complicated business web Live Nation has built since it purchased Ticketmaster in 2010,” said Attorney General Platkin. “It shouldn’t cost thousands of dollars to take your family to see live music, to introduce your children to your favorite artists. Today, New Jersey is proud to stand with a large group of states on behalf of consumers everywhere who are tired of fee schemes that lead to exorbitant pricing and rob them of these experiences.”

Today’s action was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The filing alleges multiple violations of the federal Sherman Act as well as the New Jersey Antitrust Act and asks the court to, among other things, order the sale and divestiture of Ticketmaster, which Live Nation purchased in 2010.

The lawsuit outlines how Live Nation’s $22 billion business has built an ecosystem in which Live Nation can not only extract revenues at every stage as an intermediary, but on many occasions, can also double-dip across multiple business lines—for example, as both a ticketer and a promoter. These practices create a feedback loop that inflates its fees and revenue, all at the expense of fans. As a result, the connection between artists and fans is strained and artists are no longer free to decide where and when to perform—all to raise Live Nation’s bottom line.

In New Jersey, Live Nation manages the venue and/or ticketing services at several major locations including MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, Prudential Center in Newark, PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, and Freedom Mortgage Pavilion in Camden.

According to the complaint, Live Nation and its subsidiary Ticketmaster dominate the primary ticket sales market through exclusive long-term agreements with major concert venues, effectively locking out competitors and maintaining their monopolistic power.

The size of the primary ticket sales market in New Jersey is substantial, with the gross value of primary ticket sales, also known as Gross Ticket Value (GTV), amounting to approximately $994.83 million, while the face value of these tickets is around $781.17 million.

In the lawsuit, the DOJ, New Jersey, and the other jurisdictions allege that:

Live Nation has maintained its anticompetitive monopoly in ticketing markets by locking up venues through restrictive long-term, exclusive agreements and threats that venues will lose access to Live Nation-controlled tours and artists if they sign with a rival ticketer;

Live Nation leverages its extensive network of amphitheaters to force artists to select Live Nation as a promoter instead of its rivals, maintaining its promotions monopoly; and

Live Nation’s conduct has harmed fans through higher fees, lack of transparency, fewer consumer choices, and stifling innovation.

The lawsuit asks the court to restore competition in the live entertainment industry by:

Prohibiting Live Nation from engaging in its anticompetitive practices;

Ordering Live Nation to divest Ticketmaster; and

Seeking equitable monetary relief to remedy Live Nation’s unlawful conduct.

In addition to New Jersey and the District of Columbia, other states joining the lawsuit are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Attorney General Platkin and the Office of the Attorney General have a long history of holding companies accountable for antitrust violations that harm New Jersey consumers, and the State has become more actively involved in significant antitrust actions against major technology corporations, including Apple (in which the Division of Law is local counsel for the federal and state plaintiffs), Amazon, and Google, as well as other industries such as the airline, retail, labor, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries.

Given this increase in activity to protect New Jersey consumers and businesses from anticompetitive behavior, on Monday, May 20, New Jersey announced the creation of a new Antitrust Litigation and Competition Enforcement Section within the Division of Law to reinforce the State’s capacity for robust antitrust protection.

Deputy Attorney General and Assistant Section Chief of Antitrust Isabella R. Pitt and Deputy Attorney General Yale A. Leber in the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group are representing New Jersey in this case, under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General Brian F. McDonough.

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