Senate committee to hold ticket industry competition hearing after Taylor Swift tour sale drama

US Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mike Lee of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, confirmed on Tuesday (November 22) that they will hold a hearing to “examine” what they say is a “lack of competition in the ticketing industry”.

In a press release, they write that hearing follows the “significant service failures and delays on Ticketmaster’s website that left fans unable to purchase concert tickets”.

Klobuchar and Lee said that the hearing date and witnesses will be announced at a later date.

On Tuesday (November 15), last week,  demand outstripped supply during the superstar’s Eras Tour ‘Verified Fan’  pre-sale. The tour was ticketed by Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster. The tour’s promoter is Live Nation rival AEG.

The debacle led to calls, including from members of Congress, for Live Nation and Ticketmaster to be broken up.

On Thursday (November 17),  Amy Klobuchar,  Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, wrote a letter to Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino raising concerns about what she says is “the lack of competition in the ticketing industry”.

Now, that committee is going one step further by holding a hearing.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Klobuchar claimed that “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”.

Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in 2010 and the deal was investigated and subsequently approved by The United States Department of Justice with a few conditions.

One of which was the consent decree – an antitrust agreement made in 2010 – that allowed Live Nation to merge with Ticketmaster and included safeguards to prevent anti-competitive behaviour in the years following the merger.

It prohibited Live Nation from doing things such as “retaliating” against concert venues for using other ticketing firms, or threatening venues, for example.

That consent decree was supposed to end in 2020, but the DOJ extended it by five-and-a-half years.


In a blog post published last week, which was originally deleted, and then republished with updated figures and a written apology to Swift and her fans, Ticketmaster defended its Verified Fan system, saying it is “designed to help manage high demand shows – identifying real humans and weeding out bots.”

The platform noted that over 3.5 million people pre-registered for Taylor Swift tickets, which it says is “the largest registration in history.”

Ticketmaster then sent out codes to 1.5 million people to join the onsale for all 52 show dates, including the 47 sold by Ticketmaster.

“The remaining 2 million Verified Fans were placed on a waiting list on the small chance that tickets might still be available after those who received codes had shopped,” it said.

“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.”

Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar said: “Last week, the competition problem in ticketing markets was made painfully obvious when Ticketmaster’s website failed hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to purchase concert tickets.

“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.

“That’s why we will hold a hearing on how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry harms customers and artists alike. When there is no competition to incentivize better services and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences.”

“American consumers deserve the benefit of competition in every market, from grocery chains to concert venues.”

 Mike Lee 

Lee said: “American consumers deserve the benefit of competition in every market, from grocery chains to concert venues.

“I look forward to exercising our Subcommittee’s oversight authority to ensure that anticompetitive mergers and exclusionary conduct are not crippling an entertainment industry already struggling to recover from pandemic lockdowns.”

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