Attorney General Neronha, Department of Justice sue Live Nation

Published on Thursday, May 23, 2024

Attorney General Peter F. Neronha today joined the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and a bipartisan coalition of 29 other states in filing an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., alleging that the company has illegally monopolized the live entertainment industry and engaged in anticompetitive conduct to the detriment of artists and their fans.

In the lawsuit, filed today in the US District Court for Southern District of New York, the DOJ and states allege that Live Nation, which also owns Ticketmaster, engaged in a series of practices that monopolized and restrained trade in the concert venue, promotion, and ticketing industry in violation of the Sherman Act. As alleged, this conduct has imposed a real cost to Rhode Island concert-goers and musicians. For example, fans have paid more in fees that are not transparent, not negotiable, and cannot be price-shopped while artists have fewer opportunities to play concerts, choose their venues, or to promote their own shows. 

Live Nation/Ticketmaster has a substantial presence in Rhode Island. Live Nation’s subsidiary R.I. Waterfront Enterprises LLC is constructing the East Providence Bold Point Park amphitheater, previously scheduled to open this year. Live Nation also handles ticketing for the Amica Mutual Pavilion in Providence, the Bally’s Event Center in Lincoln, as well as Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium and the Xfinity Center in Mansfield.

“Creative arts are part of the core of Rhode Island’s identity and one of the backbones of our economy,” said Rhode Island Attorney General Neronha. “It is one of my Office’s priorities to ensure our local economy is fair for our consumers, workers, and small businesses, and no place is that more important than in our marketplace for culture and live music.”

In the lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for Southern District of New York, the DOJ and states 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. 

The suit also alleges that 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. This conduct has allegedly 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 from Ticketmaster, and securing financial compensation for the state of Rhode Island, as well as for fans who were overcharged by Live Nation. 

A copy of the complaint is available here

This lawsuit stems from an investigation beginning in 2022. This investigation has created a substantial record of incriminating statements and classic anti-competitive conduct. The suit follows DOJ’s conditional allowance of the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster in 2010 and a $3 million fine to Live Nation in 2019, which included a consent decree that gave states more investigative authority over Live Nation.

Joining Attorney General Neronha in the suit were a bipartisan group of attorneys general from Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. 

This lawsuit is not the first time Attorney General Neronha has acted against unfair consumer practices in ticketing. In 2019, the Attorney General took action under the State’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) to combat an influx of speculative tickets when Rhode Island consumers were being gouged on speculative tickets to the musical Hamilton

The matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Stephen Provazza and Special Assistant Attorneys General Alex Carnevale and Paul Meosky of the Office’s Consumer and Economic Justice Unit.