We chat with three guests who want to see a change in the live events industry
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing to discuss monopolistic practices in the live entertainment industry. In December of last year, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota promised to hold the hearing at the start of this congress. This, in response to the disaster that was the Taylor Swift Ticketmaster on sale, that saw millions of fans locked out and bots make billions of attempts on Ticketmaster’s servers.
True to her word, Senator Klobuchar assembled the bi-partisan committee to hear testimony from Live Nation president and Chief Financial Officer Joe Berchtold. Also present were CEO of Seat Geek Jack Groetzinger, New York City-based independent artist Clyde Lawrence of the band Lawrence, and independent promoter Jerry Mickelson, whose company Jam Productions runs events in Chicago.
On the policy end, witnesses included James Madison Institute SVP Sal Nuzzo, and Kathleen Bradish, Vice President for Legal Advocacy at the American Antitrust Institute.
The spirited discussion led to a unanimous belief across party lines that Live Nation, as Ms. Bradish said, “certainly acts” as a monopoly, with its vertical integration of concert venue ownership and exclusive agreements with other major venues. Plus, the combination of their promotion and ticketing business virtually makes them a monolith in live entertainment.
We had the privilege to speak with Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn, who ripped into Ticketmaster-Live Nation President Joe Berchtold for their failure to prevent bots from gobbling up tickets, with secondary market resellers boldly offering tickets before on-sales. Matt spoke with Senator Blackburn about what the Congress can do about Ticketmaster’s inaction on bot attacks, and what can be done to protect concert-going consumers.
We also spoke with Chicago-based Jam Productions owner and CEO Jerry Mickelson, who was a witness before the Judiciary Committee last week. We spoke with Mickelson about his experience watching as one company grew so large, he says, it fundamentally changed his business model. A one-time arena promoter working with big-name music artists, Jam’s focus has pivoted to smaller venues with comedians and other bands. This is in part, Mickelson says, due to Live Nation’s vertical dominance in the field of producing, promoting, and ticketing events.
Josh Katz, founder and CEO of YellowHeart, is our final guest. His company uses blockchain technology and Web3 advancements to offer a unique ticketing experience to fans. And bands that use YellowHeart have access to fans information, which allows for the ticket to be a living item that can contain photos from shows, music, and become a digital souvenir ticket stub. Katz gives us his unfiltered thoughts on the current state of ticketing in live sports and entertainment, and how his company hopes to change the landscape for the better.