After Ticketmaster failed to fulfill orders for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour, leaving millions of fans without tickets, lawmakers questioned a top executive at the company’s parent company. On Tuesday, two months after the Taylor Swift ticket crisis reignited public criticism of the company, the president of Ticketmaster, the parent company of Live Nation Entertainment, and CFO Joe Berchtold testified before a Senate committee.
“As we said after the sale, and I repeat today, we apologize to the fans,” Berchtold said. “We apologize to Ms. Swift. We have to do better and we will do better.”
When asked about the “unprecedented demand for Taylor Swift tickets.” he answered, “Had 3 times more bot traffic than we had ever experienced” Due to the bot activity, we had to temporarily stop all sales. We sincerely apologize to our customers for the unpleasant experience this has caused.
Beginning March 17, Swift’s new five-month Eras Tour will have 52 performances at various stadiums across the United States. Tickets for the tour went on sale in mid-November through Ticketmaster. Fans unable to purchase tickets were frustrated by the website’s inability to keep up with demand.
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Consumers reported that Ticketmaster loaded slowly and were unable to purchase tickets even with a confirmed fan presale code.
Through “extremely high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand.”
Ticketmaster canceled the public sale for Swift’s concert because she was unable to resolve the issues. As the anger of Swift’s following of devoted fans continued to mount, she addressed the situation personally.
“It goes without saying that I am extremely protective of my fans,”
Swift wrote on Instagram in November. “It’s really hard for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and allegiances, and unbearable for me to see mistakes happen without redress.”
This prompted the United States Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing titled
“That’s the Ticket: Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment”
to examine the current state of the ticketing industry.
Amy Klobuchar, Senator for the Democrat from Minnesota, used her opening remarks to emphasize the role competition plays in maintaining a free market economy. She cited Taylor Swift’s songs to criticize market consolidation, adding that the United States is “all too familiar” with the phenomenon.
The Ticketmaster Senate hearing will be streamed live tomorrow at 10 a.m. ET.
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) January 23, 2023
She argued that competition was essential to a healthy capitalist economy.
“You can’t have too much consolidation – something that, unfortunately for this country, as an ode to Taylor Swift, I’ll say, we know ‘all too well’.”
According to Berchtold, branches have a high degree of autonomy in the way they do business. According to his testimony, Ticketmaster is not responsible for determining the price of tickets or the availability of seats, and “in most cases venues set service and ticket fees”,
Jack Groetzinger, CEO of ticketing site SeatGeek; Jerry Mickelson, CEO of Jam Productions, one of the top producers of live entertainment; and singer/songwriter Clyde Lawrence were all named as witnesses by the committee.
According to the testimony of Groetzinger, “the industry will continue to lack competition and struggle.”
as long as Live Nation is the leading concert producer and ticket seller for major venues in the United States.
Live Nation CFO to Senate: “We apologize to the fans, we apologize to Ms. Swift, we have to do better and we will do better”https://t.co/Ske9sVob3y
— davidshepardson (@davidshepardson) January 24, 2023
The Swift ticketing debacle has revived decades-old criticisms of Ticketmaster’s supremacy as a talking point at many dinner tables. In 2009, a merger was announced between Live Nation, a concert promoter, and Ticketmaster, a ticketing provider. The fear that the takeover would lead to a monopoly was expressed at the time by, among others, the US Department of Justice.
Despite a 2010 court filing objecting to the transaction, the Justice Department allowed the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster to go ahead. The Justice Department claimed in its lawsuit that Ticketmaster has more than 80% market share among major concert venues.
Based on recent statements by Berchtold op NPR, Ticketmaster rejects this market share estimate, claiming that it holds no more than just over 30% of the concert market. Leading Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee both commented Tuesday on Ticketmaster’s economic dominance.
Committee Chair Senator Dick Durbin argued that ticket sales have been for live events “dominated by a single entity” since the merger:
“These problems are symptomatic, I think, of a bigger problem,”
According to Durbin, the conditional consent agreement that enabled Live Nation to complete the purchase did not protect competition. Senator Richard Blumenthal has noted that “settling the merger should be on the table,” if the current Justice Department finds that the consent decree has been violated.
Even the panel’s senior Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham, acknowledged that
“Consolidation of power in the hands of the few can spell trouble for the many.”
According to his testimony, “I hope we can provide a better consumer experience by buying tickets to things you want to see without such a debacle”
like the Taylor Swift ticketing process”Outside of this hearing“