A Senate committee will hold a hearing on Ticketmaster and the lack of competition in ticketing markets, after Ticketmaster canceled the general sale of Taylor Swift tour tickets last week amid “historically unprecedented” demand for them, garnering ire from fans and politicians alike.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said Tuesday “the competition problem in ticketing markets was made painfully obvious when Ticketmaster’s website failed hundreds of thousands of fans.”
The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights plans to “hold a hearing on how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry harms customers and artists alike.”
A date has not been set for the hearing, and witnesses have yet to be announced.
2.4 million. That’s how many fans purchased tickets last week for Taylor Swift’s “The Eras” tour, which kicks off in 2023, Swift said last week. Those tickets were purchased during pre-sale events, held by Ticketmaster. When the company, which is a subset of Live Nation Entertainment, said it was canceling the public sale, it said it was doing so because of “extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand.” said in an interview that during pre-sale, the site was set up for 1.5 million selected fans but 14 million tried for tickets.
During pre-sale, fans experienced site crashes and hours-long waits for tickets. Swift criticized Ticketmaster and Live Nation in a Friday statement, though she didn’t name either company by name, saying her team asked the groups several times “if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was one of the first politicians to speak out against Ticketmaster, which merged with Live Nation in 2010, calling the companies a “monopoly.” Klobuchar authored a letter to Ticketmaster raising antitrust concerns about its practices before announcing the congressional hearing. The New York Times reported Friday the Department of Justice has been investigating Live Nation for months about its practices and exploring whether it has a monopoly over the live entertainment industry, though this investigation started before the Swift debacle.
Live Nation Chair Greg Maffei said last week that Ticketmaster was chosen to sell tickets to Swift’s tour, but Live Nation is not promoting “Eras.” In a statement issued Saturday, Live Nation said it “does not engage in behaviors that could justify antitrust litigation, let alone orders that would require it to alter fundamental business practices.” The company said Ticketmaster “has a significant share of the primary ticketing services market because of the large gap that exists between the quality of the Ticketmaster system and the next best primary ticketing system.” In a statement as to how historically high traffic caused the issues regarding the “Eras” sale, Ticketmaster apologized to fans.
“Eras” is Swift’s first tour since 2018, a time frame during which she’s released four new albums, including her new album “Midnights,” which is why demand for the shows is so high.