Taylor Swift performs at the Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour Japan presented by Fujifilm Instax at Tokyo Dome on November 20, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Jun Sato/TAS18/Getty Images)
Ticketmaster is in the spotlight on Capitol Hill after her Taylor Swift tour debacle saw throngs of fans unable to secure tickets for her hugely popular upcoming tour.
why is it important: It took an artist as big as Taylor Swift to get the conversation started on why Ticketmaster controls so much of the live event industry, and now lawmakers have their sights set on Live Nation, the company mother of the site.
- In an era of unprecedented antitrust scrutiny over big business, especially tech, LiveNation is set to be grilled by lawmakers eager to score victories for consumers.
Details: “LiveNation is so powerful that it doesn’t even have to exert pressure, it doesn’t have to threaten, because people are just lining up,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) , who during her opening speech said young people should have the opportunity to go to concerts like she did when she was young.
- “Bringing competition back to our markets is about making sure fans get fair prices and better service,” she said.
- Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has urged the LiveNation CEO to do more to root out bots and if the previous deal allowing the two companies to merge doesn’t work out for consumers, there should be structural remedies like the split from LiveNation and Ticketmaster: “Your approach seems to be that everyone is responsible here, not us. I hope that approach will change in the future.
Drive the news: Joe Berchtold, chairman and chief financial officer of LiveNation, owner of Ticketmaster, testifies on Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the state of competition in the ticketing industry.
- “The recent sales experience with Taylor Swift, one of the most popular artists in the world, has highlighted the need to respond [ticket scalping] problems urgently,” Berchtold said. “We’ve been hit with three times more bot traffic than we’ve ever experienced… This led to a terrible customer experience, which we regret. deeply.”
- “We apologize to the fans, we apologize to Miss Swift. We have to do better.”
- Other witnesses include: Jack Groetzinger, CEO of SeatGeek; Jerry Mickelson, CEO and President of JAM Productions; two antitrust academics and a singer-songwriter.
What they say : Ticketmaster previously blamed Taylor Swift’s “Eras” tour debacle on bot attacks and unprecedented demand and interest.
Backtrack: LiveNation and Ticketmaster merged in 2010, as part of a deal brokered by former President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice. The senators suggested during the hearing that the agreement should be reconsidered.
- “As long as LiveNation remains both the dominant concert promoter and box office for major venues in the United States, the industry will continue to lack competition and struggle,” Groetzinger of SeatGeek said. “Our industry provides a cautionary tale of how behavioral remedies cannot solve the problems inherent in an anti-competitive merger.”
- Groetzinger said venue owners feared they would lose LiveNation concerts if they didn’t use Ticketmaster, and the two companies would have to be dissolved.
Go further: Ticketmaster blames bots, demand for ticket problems
Ticketmaster cancels sale to general public after Taylor Swift breaks record
Editor’s Note: This story is in development and will be updated.