After the recent Taylor Swift Ticketmaster fiasco, a U.S. Senate antitrust panel will go ahead with a hearing on the lack of competition in the nation’s concert ticketing industry – undoubtedly caused by Ticketmaster itself.
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mike Lee will lead the new subcommittee investigating the lack of competition in ticketing markets. Klobuchar stressed the need to scrutinize Ticketmaster’s dominance over the concert ticket market in light of chaotic Taylor Swift Eras Tour sales last week.
“Ticketmaster’s website failed hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to purchase concert tickets,” Klobuchar said. “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.”
Ticketmaster blamed unprecedented demand and a “staggering number of bot attacks” for the Eras Tour mess, ultimately canceling a scheduled on-sale date for remaining tickets. After registered fans struggled with glitches for hours to get tickets in the presale, tickets quickly began appearing for resale for as much as $22,700. Ticketmaster claimed the demand for Swift tickets “could have filled 900 stadiums.”
The company apologized to Swift, who eventually released a pointed statement that read, in part, “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. 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.”
Two days after the initial debacle, Klobuchar took up the cause in a letter linking Ticketmaster’s “dramatic service failures” to its “power in the primary ticket market.” Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, chairs the Senate judiciary subcommittee on competition policy, antitrust, and consumer rights, of which Lee, a Utah Republican, is a ranking member. The hearing date has not yet been set, and a list of witnesses is yet to be announced.
It's not the first time Ticketmaster's power has been questioned. Ever since Ticketmaster's merging with parent company Live Nation in 2010, politicians, journalists, and artists alike have been skeptical about Ticketmaster's dominance in the industry. Rock band Pearl Jam have been advocating against the company since 1994, and back in March, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver released a poignant piece about concert ticketing that heavily included Ticketmaster and its loathed practices. The Department of Justice has proven in recent years to be much more willing to file antitrust lawsuits against giant companies – including the ongoing December 2020 lawsuit against Google – and to fight mergers.
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