She herself did not perform, but pop singer Taylor Swift on Tuesday caused a rare consensus among Democrats and Republicans in Washington. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing about Live Nation Entertainment, the company that owns ticketing site Ticketmaster as well as more than three hundred popular venues worldwide. Critical senators argued the entertainment giant would have a monopoly in the live music industry — and the pre-sale of Swift’s new tour last year showed the flaws.
Thousands of fans were unable to get a ticket to the new concert series last November, the first since 2018. The Ticketmaster page showed major problems: visitors stood in a virtual line for hours or could put tickets in their online shopping cart, but not pay . many SwiftiesFans of the pop star also complained loudly on social media, calling themselves a pop star, and the ticket mess was national news.
Live Nation CEO Joe Berchtold was criticized for three hours Tuesday by senators from both parties about Live Nations’ market power. They were unhappy with his explanation that Ticketmaster was down because of “bots”, automated accounts that also tried to get tickets to resell for a high profit. The company wanted to outbid these buyers by only selling genuine Swifties (“Number of verified fans‘), but it was the system that failed.
Also read this piece about Taylor Swift Ticket Sales: Helping or Milking the Fans? (2017)
Many senators did their best to appease the frustrated fans of the popular singer. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Until I resorted to Swift’s words for this. Quote from her hit song Empty space‘, when he described the prequel as ‘a nightmare disguised as a daydream’.
The criticism in the Senate could have dire consequences for the entertainment giant, which sold nearly half a billion tickets worldwide in 2019 (the last pre-pandemic year) and staged more than 40,000 events. When concert organizer Live Nation acquired Ticketmaster in 2010, the newly combined company signed an agreement on fair competition in the music industry. These agreements expire in 2025 and some senators have suggested using this to break up the company.
Live Nation Entertainment allegedly abused its market dominance by forcing competitors to sell tickets through Ticketmaster. If they refused, the company would stage the concerts elsewhere, they knew. This was also evident on Swift’s new tour: Ticketmaster sold out 47 of her 52 concerts. “That’s exactly the definition of a monopoly,” said Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. “The living nation is so strong that it doesn’t even have to apply pressure: the people give in of their own accord.”
“Unable to type with boxing gloves on. Freelance organizer. Avid analyst. Friendly troublemaker. Bacon junkie.”