U.S. lawmakers are set to probe the ticketing industry after millions of Taylor Swift fans were shut out from buying concert tickets for the Grammy-winner’s upcoming “The Eras Tour.”
Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, on Tuesday announced a Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights hearing to examine the lack of competition in the ticketing industry. The lawmakers said the “significant service failures” on Ticketmaster’s website demanded oversight from antitrust regulators.
Last Tuesday, 14 million fans tried to order presale tickets through the Ticketmaster website. Many fans were left waiting in a digital queue for hours only to come up empty-handed. The service failure led to widespread public outcry from Swifties, and some Democratic lawmakers decried what they viewed as a market failure brought on by “consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry.”
“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 cancelations that customers experienced shows how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company does not face any pressure to continually innovate and improve,” chairwoman Klobuchar said in a statement.
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Her concerns were echoed by ranking member Lee, who 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,” Lee said.
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The hearing announcement follows a letter Klobuchar sent to Ticketmaster last Wednesday raising concerns about the lack of competition in the ticketing industry following the company’s 2010 merger with Live Nation.
“Ticketmaster’s power in the primary ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically push companies to innovate and improve their services. That can result in the types of dramatic service failures we saw this week, where consumers are the ones that pay the price,” Klobuchar wrote.
Klobuchar and several other Democratic senators separately wrote to the Justice Department encouraging antitrust law enforcement to investigate Ticketmaster to determine if the company should be broken up. They noted that the company controls an estimated 60% of the market for promotion of major concerts and events and accused it using its dominant market position to raise prices and harm consumers.
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“If the investigation reveals that Live Nation has continued to abuse its dominant market position notwithstanding two prior consent decrees, we urge the department to consider unwinding the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger and breaking up the company,” the lawmakers wrote. “This may be the only way to truly protect consumers, artists and venue operators and to restore competition in the ticketing market.”
G3 Box News’ Julia Musto and Brie Stimson contributed to this report.