A US Senate antitrust panel is to hold a hearing on the lack of competition in the ticketing industry following Ticketmaster’s issues in managing the sale of Taylor Swift‘s ‘Eras Tour’ last week.
The company announced last Thursday (November 17) that the general ticket sale for Swift’s 2023 North American dates was cancelled, citing “extraordinarily high demand” and “insufficient remaining ticket inventory”.
It came after many customers reported technical problems while attempting to access a Ticketmaster pre-sale for ‘The Eras Tour’ on Tuesday (November 15), including lengthy wait times and website outages.
Ticketmaster subsequently said that there had been “historically unprecedented demand” as “millions” of Swift fans tried to secure tickets. It’s since been reported that 14million people had endeavoured to make a purchase via the site that day, with 2.4million being successful in doing so.
Now, as Reuters reports, Congress will hold a hearing regarding the lack of competition in the ticketing industry on an as-yet-unspecified date. Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is chair of the panel, confirmed the news yesterday (November 22).
Senators Klobuchar and Mike Lee, the top Republican on the committee, did not give a list of witnesses.
“The high fees, site disruptions and cancellations that customers experienced shows how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company does not face any pressure to continually innovate and improve,” Klobuchar said.
“We will hold a hearing on how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry harms customers and artists alike.”
On Friday (November 18), Swift said in a statement that Ticketmaster had “assured” her it was able to handle the huge demand, but she acknowledged how some fans had “such a hard time trying to get tickets”.
The firm later issued an apology to those who had a “terrible experience” in navigating its website, writing: “We strive to make ticket buying as easy as possible for fans.”
It has been reported that the United States Department of Justice is opening an antitrust investigation into Live Nation – the company that owns Ticketmaster – while various US lawmakers have hit out at the aforementioned firms.
In 2010, Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged to form Live Nation Entertainment. At the time the Justice Department accepted the merger, but amended the deal in 2019 due to violations of the original deal (via Billboard).
Live Nation Entertainment currently dominates approximately 70 per cent of the live music industry.
One of the politicians to have spoken out in light of the Swift saga is New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, its merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in,” she tweeted. “Break them up.”
Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, meanwhile, has launched an investigation into Ticketmaster following the controversy.
In a statement, Ticketmaster denied any anti-competitive practices and said it remained under a consent decree with the Justice Department following the 2010 merger. Additionally, the company said there was no “evidence of systemic violations of the consent decree”.
It added: “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.”
Klobuchar was among the three lawmakers who said in a letter on Monday (November 21) that Ticketmaster and Live Nation Entertainment should be broken up by the Department Of Justice should any misconduct be discovered.
Elsewhere, a group of Swift fans – some of whom are lawyers – have joined forces to launch an online campaign against Ticketmaster.
“There’s no fan base better suited to taking Ticketmaster down,” a section of the ‘Vigilante Legal’ website reads. “We have a massive, engaged online community; our collective power has the potential to effect real change across the music industry if we work together to make it happen.”