The Department of Justice Will Investigate Ticketmaster and Its Parent Company
The Department of Justice has decided to investigate entertainment behemoth LiveNation, the parent company of Ticketmaster. The push for an investigation took center stage when tickets for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour went on pre-sale earlier this week. The demand for tickets led fans to wait for hours and endure multiple site crashes. Some fans were able to order tickets, but most weren’t, and Ticketmaster canceled its full sale of tickets that it had scheduled for Friday.
Swift issued a statement on social media:
It goes without saying that I’m extremely protective of my fans. We’ve been doing this for decades together and over the years, I’ve brought so many elements of my career in house. I’ve done this SPECIFICALLY to improve the quality of my fans’ experience by doing it myself with my team who care as much about my fans as I do. 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.
There are a multitude of reasons why people had such a hard time trying to get tickets and I’m trying to figure out how this situation can be improved moving forward. I’m not 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.
And to those who didn’t get tickets, all I can say is that my hope is to provide more opportunities for us to all get together and sing these songs. Thank you for wanting to be there. You have no idea how much that means.
Say what you want about Taylor Swift, but nobody cultivates fan connections like she does. Good on her for that.
The ire of Swift fans — some of whom must work in the Biden administration — has brought to light the Department of Justice’s plans to look into Ticketmaster and LiveNation for antitrust violations.
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“The investigation will focus on whether Live Nation Entertainment abused its dominance over the multibillion dollar live music industry,” the Daily Mail reports.
The department claims that its investigation was in the works even before the Taylor Swift ticket disaster, but it has taken this massive incident to draw attention to it.
Interestingly enough, it was another Democratic administration that approved the merger in the first place. The Obama administration allowed LiveNation to acquire Ticketmaster in 2010.
Anyone who has bought tickets through Ticketmaster anytime in the last, say, 30 years knows how terrible the company is. Convenience fees cost almost as much as the tickets themselves — how’s that convenient for anybody but Ticketmaster? Yet the company tried to explain its problems away.
In a blog post that Ticketmaster has since taken down, the company explained that it relied on its “Verified Fan” program to ensure that ticket brokers and bots didn’t get their hands on tickets before genuine Swifties could.
Ticketmaster crowed that “Over 2 million tickets were sold for Taylor’s shows on Nov. 15 — the most tickets ever sold for an artist in a single day” and that “90% fewer tickets are currently posted for resale on secondary markets than a typical onsale, which is exactly why the artist team wanted to use Verified Fan to sell their tickets. Ticketmaster is not currently reselling any Taylor tickets.”
Additionally, the company claims that only 15% of users experienced issues. Either those issues were particularly horrendous or those users are some major squeaky wheels because news of the debacle traveled fast.
Who knows what will come of the Department of Justice’s investigation? The Biden DOJ has a mixed track record in its antitrust efforts, so Ticketmaster and LiveNation may emerge unscathed. But if all of this can lead Ticketmaster to rethink some of its practices even a little bit, it might be worth the trouble.