Hearing announced after Taylor Swift ticket debacle
US Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT), Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, have announced that they will hold a hearing to examine the lack of competition in the ticketing industry. This hearing comes after reports of significant service failures and delays on Ticketmaster’s website that left fans unable to purchase concert tickets to Taylor Swift’s The Ears Tour last week during the Verified Fan presale.
“Last week, the competition problem in ticketing markets was made painfully obvious when Ticketmaster’s website failed hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to purchase concert tickets. The high fees, site disruptions and cancellations that customers experienced shows how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company does not face any pressure to continually innovate and improve,” states Klobuchar. “That’s why we will hold a hearing on how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry harms customers and artists alike. When there is no competition to incentivize better services and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences.”
“American consumers deserve the benefit of competition in every market, from grocery chains to concert venues,” adds Lee. “I look forward to exercising our Subcommittee’s oversight authority to ensure that anticompetitive mergers and exclusionary conduct are not crippling an entertainment industry already struggling to recover from pandemic lockdowns.”
Last week, Klobuchar wrote a letter to Ticketmaster expressing concern about the lack of competition in the ticketing industry and questioning whether the company is taking necessary steps to provide the best service it can to consumers.
The hearing date and witnesses will be announced at a later date.
Last week, it was reported that the US Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into Live Nation over concerns the company has abused its power. The investigation focuses on whether Live Nation Entertainment maintains a monopoly over the multi-billion dollar industry, and was already in progress before the Taylor Swift ticket debacle.
Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti and US Rep. Bill Pascrell have also inquired into the company, even demanding answers for why tickets exceeded affordability.
The White House also recently announced it’s moving closer to federally mandating the end of “junk fees” or “convenience fees” not being disclosed before the start of purchase. They’re pursuing an all-inclusive ticketing model across the board.
Swift blasted the company on Instagram on Friday, November 18th. Demand for Swift concert tickets was huge before the Verified Fan presale. Swift initially announced 27 dates and then added eight and then 17 new dates within two weeks. Swift will play multiple nights in all cities, tallying to 52 shows in US stadiums in 2023.
“It’s really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties, and excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse,” her statement reads in part. “I’m not going going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could. It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.”
Ticketmaster apologized to Taylor Swift and her fans for botching the presale and canceling the public on sale due to system issues and limited availability. The company also released an updated public statement (after removing an initial statement from the website a day earlier) about what went wrong during the November 15th Verified Fan presale that left millions of fans without tickets.
“We strive to make ticket buying as easy as possible for fans, but that hasn’t been the case for many people trying to buy tickets for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour,” they write. “First, we want to apologize to Taylor and all of her fans – especially those who had a terrible experience trying to purchase tickets. Next, we feel we owe it to everyone to share some information to help explain what happened.”
Ticketmaster has been under fire since Live Nation purchased the company in 2010. Many of their practices have resulted in class action suits over scalping and refunds of postponed shows, among others. In November 2021, Harry Styles fans lashed out at Ticketmaster over high ticket prices, long queue times, and constant system errors for his 2022 tour. Bruce Springsteen tickets recently sold as much as $5,000 each, sparking the rocker to admit to using the trendy “dynamic pricing” to curve supply and demand.