Twins Izzy and Alexa Harrison, from Potomac, Maryland, have a bedroom that feels like a sanctuary for Taylor Swift. They also sport Taylor Swift merch, wearing her cardigan sweaters and sporting her necklace. “She’s my role model and she makes me happy,” Alexa said.
But the twins weren’t happy when their mother couldn’t get tickets to Swift’s upcoming Eras tour using a special code Ticketmaster gave to verified fans who had purchased Swift’s merchandise and downloaded her music. “Just disappointing and, like, upsetting,” Izzy said.
The twins’ mother, Penny Harrison, spent several hours trying to log in: “I logged in at 9:30 in the morning, and at 10:00 a.m. he kicked me out, and then you log back in. So when I got there, it was 4:30 p.m.,” she said. The problems continued for several hours as she unsuccessfully tried to purchase seats. “Every time I clicked on something and when I tried to put it in the basket it said, “Someone else got these tickets, try again”. I kept clicking, ‘Someone else got those tickets.’ I kept trying to sign all night.”
She wasn’t the only Swifty (as fans call themselves) who couldn’t just “shake herself”. But a Swifty shutout thought it was time to be “fearless”. In a post on TikTok, Dallas personal injury attorney Jennifer Kinder said, “We need to sue Ticketmaster.”
More than 300 other disappointed fans (including Penny Harrison) have joined Kinder’s lawsuit against Ticketmaster, in which she alleges fraud, misrepresentation and antitrust violations.
Braver asked, “Their argument, of course, is going to be, ‘Hey, it was like a lottery. You weren’t guaranteed to win. “”
“I don’t think it’s a lottery,” Kinder said. “It’s a deliberate manipulation of a sale, in order to increase their profit. That’s really what it’s all about.”
Fans suing have a key supporter: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). “I always support people who take over big monopolies,” she explained.
Klobuchar accuses Ticketmaster and its parent company, concert promoter Live Nation Entertainment, of being a monopoly, controlling 70% of the large concert ticket market, leaving fans and performers nowhere else to go.
“They actually started buying arenas,” Klobuchar said, “but for the arenas they don’t own, they tend to do three-, five-, or seven-year contracts, so those arenas are excluded by using competitors. So imagine this: they’re there with the ticket monopoly, then they’ve got the promotion, then they’ve got the arenas.”
And, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, Klobuchar convened a high-profile hearing a week and a half ago to consider whether Live Nation Entertainment should be disbanded.
During the January 24 hearing, Klobuchar said, “Taylor Swift is just one example; whether it’s Bruce Springsteen or BTS or Bad Bunny, or in the past Pearl Jam or the Pixies, the fans, the artists and venues are facing real issues with Live Nation.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) noted (tongue firmly in cheek) that Live Nation had done the near impossible in a deeply partisan Washington: “I want to congratulate and thank you for an absolutely breathtaking achievement: you have brought Republicans and Democrats together in an absolutely unified cause.”
Joe Berchtold, President and CFO of Live Nation Entertainment, blamed it all on an unprecedented BOT attack: “This led to a terrible consumer experience, which we deeply regret. We need to do better, and we we’ll do better.”
The senators were not appeased. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) suggested banning ticket resales to prevent scalpers from raising prices: “Cap the price, cut out the bots, cut out the middleman.”
And as for those annoying fees that can add many dollars to the price of a ticket, Klobuchar asked why Live Nation hasn’t done more to reduce them. Berchtold replied, “The fees are set by the sites.”
Also appearing before the subcommittee, singer-songwriter Clyde Lawrence begged not to agree: “We asked the halls this question, and they say, ‘Not only do we not choose what c ‘is, we don’t even know what it is, we can’t even tell you what it’s going to be.'”
More than a decade ago, when Live Nation and Ticketmaster first wanted to mergecompetition was of such concern that the Justice Department insisted on a consent decree that would “prohibit the company from engaging in anti-competitive behavior.”
Klobuchar told “Sunday Morning,” “Well, they’ve had violations of that, clear violations. And because of that, they basically extended that consent decree. It’s still going on. But whatever they’ve done , that was not enough.”
And Dean Budnick, who has written a book on the ticketing industry, says — deliberate or not — that just being part of Live Nation gives Ticketmaster an edge. (Or, to quote Taylor Swift, “It’s hard to fight when the fight isn’t fair.”)
“You don’t need to communicate directly to a prospective venue partner, ‘Hey, we’re affiliated with Live Nation, the nation’s largest concert promoter. And maybe if you don’t contract with us , you might not get Live Nation broadcasts,” Budnick said.
CBS News has confirmed that even before the Taylor Swift ticket scandal, the Department of Justice launched an investigation into the practices of Live Nation Entertainment, Ticketmaster’s parent company. The company would not grant us an interview for this story.
Still, Budnick argues that Ticketmaster should not be entirely blamed: “Ticketmaster’s customers are not the moviegoers; Ticketmaster’s customers are the venues and the promoters. And so, when customers are sometimes outraged, Ticketmaster, historically, they were always ready to put on the asbestos suit and endure the heat.”
But Taylor Swift fans like Penny Harrison and attorney Jennifer Kinder, who demonstrated outside the Capitol hearing, demand action: “When something is wrong and not right, it is our responsibility to ‘trying to bring about change,’ Kinder said.
And with Ticketmaster starting sales tomorrow for Beyoncé’s next concert tourWashington is watching.
“It’s just an incredible gift to America, which is this music industry, something that we literally gave to the world,” Klobuchar said. “And when you have an entity that basically distributes tickets to all events and lets fans in, that gives them inordinate power.”
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Story produced by David Rothman. Publisher: Ed Givnish.
The 65th Grammy Awards will be presented on Sunday, February 5 and will be broadcast live on CBS And on request via Paramount+ starting at 7 p.m. ET.