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Senators Grill Ticketmaster hears about Taylor Swift ticket sales failure

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Senators on Tuesday questioned whether Ticketmaster’s dominance in the ticket industry led to its spectacular collapse during last year’s sale of Taylor Swift concert tickets.

Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee also discussed possible actions, such as making tickets non-transferable to reduce scalping and making ticket fees more transparent. There was also the opinion that Ticketmaster and his promoter Live Nation, a Beverly Hills, California-based concert that merged in 2010, might need to split.

Connecticut Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal said, “The fact of the matter is Live Nation/Ticketmaster is an 800-pound gorilla here. This whole concert ticket system is a mess. Exclusive It’s a mess.”

Ticketmaster is the world’s largest ticket seller, processing over 500 million tickets in over 30 countries each year. About 70% of tickets to major concert venues in the US are sold through his Ticketmaster, according to data from a federal lawsuit filed by a consumer last year.

In mid-November, Ticketmaster’s site crashed during a pre-sale event for Swift’s upcoming stadium tour. The company said its site was overwhelmed with attacks from both fans and bots posing as consumers to scoop tickets and sell them on a secondary site. Thousands of people lost their tickets after waiting hours in her queue online.

Live Nation president and chief financial officer Joe Berchtold apologized to fans and Swift on Tuesday, saying the company knew it had to do better. We’ve spent $1 billion over 10 years to improve security and stop bots.

“We need to do better and we will do better,” he said.

But lawmakers were skeptical. Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn said many other businesses, such as banks and power companies, are also often targeted by bots, but have not suffered service meltdowns.

“They got it, but don’t you guys? This is unbelievable,” she said.

Senators also targeted Ticketmaster’s fees. Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, remembered getting into his friend’s car to go to concerts by Led Zeppelin, The Cars, and Aerosmith while in high school. According to her, ticket prices have skyrocketed recently, making the show too expensive for many fans. Ticket prices currently average 27% of ticket prices and could rise to 75%, Klobuchar said.

Berchtold argued that Ticketmaster does not set ticket prices or service fees or determine the number of tickets sold. Service fees are set per venue, he said. Live Nation owns only about 5% of US venues, he said.

But competitors like Seat Geek CEO Jack Groetzinger compete by signing multi-year deals with arenas and concert halls to provide ticket sales services, even though Live Nation doesn’t own the venues. said to prevent Live Nation may withhold action if those venues do not agree to his use of Ticketmaster. As such, it is difficult for competitors to disrupt the market.

Ticketmaster has apologized to Taylor Swift and her fans for this week’s ticket sales fiasco surrounding her Ellas tour.

“The only way to restore competition is to split Ticketmaster and Live Nation,” said Groetzinger.

Clyde Lawrence, singer-songwriter for New York-based pop group Lawrence, said the band had little ability to negotiate a deal or choose a different ticket vendor, so Live Nation decided to sell the venue. He said it would also hit the artist if he owned or had a contract with it.

Lawrence shared a hypothetical example. Ticketmaster charges $30 per ticket, but he adds a fee that raises the price to $42. Only $12 per ticket goes to the band, after factoring in the fees they have to pay Live Nation. This includes $250 for a stack of 10 towels in the dressing room, at least in one case.

Lawrence wants fee caps, transparency into how venue fees are used, and a fairer distribution of profits. For example, Live Nation receives a portion of band merchandise sales at concerts, but does not share a portion of food and beverage sales.

Berchtold told lawmakers that the ticketing industry has focused on the problem of ticket scalping, which has grown to be a huge $5 billion industry, with fraudulent practices such as resellers offering tickets that have not yet been officially sold. said it wanted to ban He also agreed that the industry should be more transparent about fees.

Louisiana Republican Senator John Kennedy has proposed a law that would make tickets non-transferable and prevent resale. He also suggested that major artists such as Swift and Bruce Springsteen should demand a fee cap.

“Not every kid can afford $500 to see Taylor Swift,” Kennedy said.

Berchtold said Ticketmaster supports making tickets non-transferable, even though it operates in the ticket resale market. But Republican Senator Tom Tillis of North Carolina and others said making tickets non-transferrable would hamper people’s right to resell them.

The Justice Department allowed Live Nation and Ticketmaster to merge in 2010, but Live Nation agreed not to retaliate against concert venues using other ticket companies for 10 years.

In 2019, the department conducted an investigation and found that Live Nation had “repeatedly” violated its agreement. It extended the ban on retaliation against concert venues until 2025.

Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee said Tuesday that the Justice Department is investigating Live Nation again after the Swift ticket debacle. At this point, he said, Congress should ask whether the department was right in allowing the merger to proceed in the first place.

“It is very important to maintain fair, free, open and fierce competition, which improves quality and reduces prices. ”

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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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