The crash of Ticketmaster’s website amid an overload of demand for Taylor Swift tickets has led to a Senate hearing, as lawmakers seize on the incident to scrutinize a host of business practices in the ticketing industry.
The full Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday — That’s The Ticket: Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment — following the November debacle in which Swift fans were locked out of presales and a public sale was canceled.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who chairs the antitrust subcommittee, said in a statement that “the issues within America’s ticketing industry were made painfully obvious when Ticketmaster’s website failed hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to purchase tickets for Taylor Swift’s new tour, but these problems are not new. For too long consumers have faced high fees, long waits and website failures, and Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company faces inadequate pressure to innovate and improve.”
Shortly after the website crash, Klobuchar wrote a letter to Live Nation Entertainment CEO Michael Rapino in November “serious concerns about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its harmful impact on consumers.” The Justice Department reportedly launched an investigation of Live Nation-Ticketmaster before the incident. It’s unclear if Rapino will be among those to testify at the hearing. Jane Meyer, Klobuchar’s communications director, said that the lineup of witnesses will be announced later this week.
Live Nation has defended its business practices. In a lengthy statement issued in November, the company said, “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. The market is increasingly competitive nonetheless, with rivals making aggressive offers to venues. That Ticketmaster continues to be the leader in such an environment is a testament to the platform and those who operate it, not to any anticompetitive business practices.”
The company also noted that under the terms of the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger in 2011, it is operating under a consent decree. That was extended in an agreement with the Justice Department in 2019, with the company noting that a former federal judge monitors compliance.