Taylor Swift Ticketmaster crisis sparks Senate Judiciary hearing, Live Nation and SeatGeek called as witnesses
Antitrust and Consumer Rights hearing inspired by recent ticketing saga from 'Anti-Hero' singer Taylor Swift
The Ticketmaster saga continues Tuesday as Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, call upon leading ticketing agency executives as witnesses to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition, Antitrust and Consumer Rights.
In a release from the Senate, will be "examining the lack of competition in the ticketing industry titled "That’s the Ticket: Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment."
President and CFO of Live Nation Entertainment, Ticketmaster's parent company, Joe Berchtold, and CEO of SeatGeek, Jack Groetzinger, will both be called as witnesses at the hearing on problem's in America's ticketing markets.
Swift reached a new peak in her own folklore last year after millions of fans lined up for hours in online queues to purchase tickets in November to "The Eras Tour" in 2023, only to be denied an opportunity to see the "Anti-Hero" singer at one of the 35 stadium stops.
Jerry Mickelson, CEO of JAM Productions, Sal Nuzzo of The James Madison Institute, Kathleen Bradish from the American Antitrust Institute and Clyde Lawrence of the band Lawrence will also be called on as witnesses at the 10 a.m. hearing.
Chairwoman Klobuchar announced the formation of the antitrust subcommittee one week after the ticketing disaster where lawmakers said the "significant service failures" on Ticketmaster's website demanded oversight from antitrust regulators.
"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," Klobuchar said in a statement at the time.
"The high fees, site disruptions and cancelations that customers experienced shows how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company does not face any pressure to continually innovate and improve."
Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in 2010 after a Justice Department-brokered settlement officials said would encourage competition and send ticket prices down.
Klobuchar, along with Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. and Edward Markey, D-Mass., said in a November letter that the ticket sales and the distribution company should be broken up if any misconduct is uncovered.
"An investigation alone does nothing for the stakeholders already harmed by Live Nation’s market dominance and seemingly ongoing anticompetitive behavior," the lawmakers said as they questioned Ticketmaster's estimated 60% control of the market for major events.
TAYLOR SWIFT TOUR DEBACLE: TICKETMASTER AND LIVE NATION MAY NEED BREAKUP, DEMOCRATIC SENATORS SAY
"If the investigation reveals that Live Nation has continued to abuse its dominant market position notwithstanding two prior consent decrees, we urge the department to consider unwinding the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger and breaking up the company. This may be the only way to truly protect consumers, artists and venue operators and to restore competition in the ticketing market."
Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., also and urged the consumer protection agency to clarify what it's doing to crack down on ticket scammers who use bots to hoard tickets.
The hearing will be held before the full Senate Judiciary Committee with Chair Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and incoming Ranking Member Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
More than 3.5 million pre-registered Swifties queued up during the "Verified Fan" pre-sales, but were never able to buy a seat after Ticketmaster sold more than 2 million tickets in the initial rush. The company later canceled the public sale due to "insufficient remaining ticket inventory."
One of Ticketmaster's largest shareholders said "14 million people" attempted to log on and purchase tickets.
On the day general sale tickets were supposed to be made available, Swift broke her silence and addressed the fiasco.
"It goes without saying that I'm extremely protective of my fans," Swift wrote. "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."
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A few Swifties then filed a lawsuit against Ticketmaster and Live Nation alleging Ticketmaster engaged in antitrust violations, deceptive practices, fraud and price-fixing. The suit also accuses Ticketmaster of encouraging scalpers because the company earns income from fees when tickets are resold on its platform.
Zach Bryan said last year that he was "done" with using Ticketmaster, and has since stuck to his plan.
He released a surprise live album last month titled, "All My Homies Hate Ticketmaster," and only sold tickets to his shows through AXS.
"Seems like there is a massive issue with fair ticket prices to live shows lately. I have met kids at my shows who have paid upwards of four hundred bucks to be there and I’m done with it," Bryan wrote on Instagram on Christmas Day.
"I’ve decided to play a limited number of headline shows next year to which I’ve done all I can to make prices as cheap as possible and to prove to people tickets don’t have to cost $450 to see a good and honest show… I believe working class people should still be able to afford tickets to shows. I am so so tired of people saying things can’t be done about this massive issue while huge monopolies sit there stealing money from working class people."