Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti has launched an investigation into Ticketmaster after numerous Taylor Swift fans reported issues with buying tickets for the star’s 2023 ‘Eras Tour’.
Swift, who released her 10th studio album ‘Midnights’ last month, announced the run of North American stadium concerts on November 1. Shortly afterwards, she confirmed an extra eight dates before adding a further 17 gigs last week.
A pre-sale then went live this Tuesday (November 15), with fans subsequently complaining on social media about lengthy wait times and website outages. The Guardian also reported that tickets were quickly being re-listed on sites such as StubHub for as much as $22,700 (£19,100) each.
Addressing the technical issues, Ticketmaster said the “site is not down” and claimed that “people are actively purchasing tickets”.
A message on the company’s customer support Twitter feed, however, read: “We are aware fans may be experiencing intermittent issues with the site and are urgently working to resolve.”
Later, Ticketmaster posted another update in which the firm said there had been “historically unprecedented demand” as “millions” of Swift fans attempted to secure tickets to ‘The Eras Tour’.
— Ticketmaster (@Ticketmaster) November 15, 2022
The pre-sale for some dates of the stint were pushed back. Tickets are set to go on sale to the general public tomorrow (November 18).
Last night (November 17), Skrmetti said during a press conference that he was concerned with the reported issues, but added that there were currently no allegations to make (via The Hill).
“We received a number of complaints and there’s been significant press coverage that the ticket sale process did not go smoothly,” the attorney general explained.
“It’s my job to ensure that the consumer protection laws and antitrust laws in Tennessee are being honoured.”
Skrmetti said he was launching the antitrust investigation because Tennessee – Swift’s home state – is a large music market.
Additionally, he acknowledged that Live Nation Entertainment dominates approximately 70 per cent of the live music industry, and how this impacts paying customers (LiveNation merged with Ticketmaster back in 2010).
“Anytime you have that kind of concentration of market share, there’s the risk that the lack of competition will not just drive up prices for consumers,” said Skrmetti, “it will also reduce the quality of the product.”
Elsewhere, congressman David Cicilline – who oversees the House committee on competition and antitrust – tweeted: “Ticketmaster’s excessive wait times and fees are completely unacceptable, as seen with today’s [Taylor Swift] tickets, and are a symptom of a larger problem.
“It’s no secret that Live Nation-Ticketmaster is an unchecked monopoly.”
Cicilline added: “The merger of these companies should never have been allowed in the first place, which is why I have joined @FrankPallone, @RepJerryNadler, and @BillPascrell to call on the DOJ to investigate Live Nation’s efforts to jack up prices and strangle competition.”
The merger of these companies should never have been allowed in the first place, which is why I have joined @FrankPallone, @RepJerryNadler, and @BillPascrell to call on the DOJ to investigate Live Nation’s efforts to jack up prices and strangle competition. pic.twitter.com/ATPolPKvZc
— Congressman David N. Cicilline (@RepCicilline) November 15, 2022
Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, it’s merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in.
Break them up.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 15, 2022
🎟️Update: the @taylorswift13 portal is not going well for many Swifties. I'm hearing about site crashes and fans waiting for hours. You'd think all these service and convenience fees could go to a working website @ticketmaster.https://t.co/lzd5qRY6Ig
— Bill Pascrell, Jr. 🇺🇸🇺🇦 (@BillPascrell) November 15, 2022
Over my years in the public and private sectors, I've had people tell me: If only the government could work like business.
— Ronald Klain (@WHCOS) November 15, 2022
Break up Ticketmaster. https://t.co/oFxUrNmfSs
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 15, 2022
New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez added: “Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, it’s merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in. Break them up.”
Ilhan Omar, the US representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, tweeted: “Break up Ticketmaster.” You can see that post and a range of other reactions above.
Ticketmaster is already subject to government monitoring, a measure that was implemented when the LiveNation purchase was approved.
Back in January, Live Nation and Ticketmaster were sued for allegedly violating antitrust laws, with plaintiffs arguing that the companies had engaged in “predatory” behaviour to monopolise the market for concert tickets.
‘The Eras Tour’ will mark Swift’s first run of live shows since 2018. It’ll kick off in March next year in Arizona, and conclude with a string of LA dates in early August. Throughout the run, the star will be joined by alternating guests including Paramore, Beabadoobee, Phoebe Bridgers, Girl In Red, MUNA and Haim.
Taylor Swift recently confirmed that a UK tour in support of ‘Midnights’ will also be announced soon. Fans who pre-ordered the album will be able to access an exclusive pre-sale for tickets when they are on sale.