After Taylor Swift ticket fiasco, Senate panel calls Ticketmaster a monopolistic anti-hero – JP
For decades now, Ticketmaster has engendered bad blood from concertgoers angry over its fees but has managed to shake it off, growing into the largest ticketing company in America. But after crossing Taylor Swift fans, parent company Live Nation faced a Senate panel Tuesday intent on getting the company to admit, “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me.”
Live Nation drew the ire of thousands of Taylor Swift fans in the fall, after its website crashed when tickets for Swift’s upcoming “Eras” tour went on sale. Swifties also decried huge swings in the tickets’ prices and painfully long wait times. A similar debacle afflicted ticket sales for a Bad Bunny concert in Mexico City. As Swift apologized to fans, Congress swore to hold hearings, and on Tuesday the Senate Judiciary Committee held the first.
Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation, a concert venue and promotions company, in 2010, creating a live events behemoth that controls nearly every aspect of putting on a show short of the singing and dancing. On Tuesday, senators criticized how that vertical integration created a market-dominating powerhouse with little concern for average fans.
“In an ode to Taylor Swift, I will say, ‘We know all too well,’” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who chairs the Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights. “Live Nation doesn’t just dominate the ticketing — about 70 percent of the big concert market — but also they own many of the major venues, and for the venues that they don’t own, they tend to lock in on 3, 5, 7 year agreements, which means that the competitors that are out there aren’t able to even compete when it comes to the ticketing.”
Subcommittee ranking member Mike Lee, R-Utah, also couldn’t resist the siren’s call of a Swift allusion, prefacing his remarks by thanking Klobuchar for pushing for the hearing. “I had hoped, as of a few months ago, to get the chair back,” he said. “But once again, ‘she’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers.’”