It was a debacle that Taylor Swift fans will remember forever and always. It all goes back to November, when Swift announced her Eras tour. A presale began Nov. 15, but Ticketmaster’s system wasn’t ready for it and crashed. The company then canceled the sale for the general public.
Now the Senate Judiciary Committee wants to take action to increase competition in the ticketing industry and possibly break up Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster.
In an attempt to defend his company’s reputation, which some contend has never been worse, Live Nation’s president told senators to blame bots.
“They came after our verified fan password servers as well. While the bots failed to penetrate our systems or acquire any tickets, the attack requires to slow down and even pause our sales,” Joe Berchtold, president and CFO of Live Nation Entertainment, said.
But sparks flew when concert promoter Jerry Mickleson, sitting there in his best suit, fearless, said Live Nation’s response was unacceptable.
“One of the things they’re supposed to do is have solutions to bots. And for the leading ticket company not to be able to handle bots is, for me, a pretty unbelievable statement. But you can’t blame bots for what happened to Taylor Swift. There’s more to that story that you’re not hearing,” Jerry Mickelson, CEO and president of JAM Productions, said.
There was another problem discussed that many concert goers know all too well. There is a listed ticket price, but when it comes time to check out, fees add an average 27% to the final cost. Live Nation controls 70% of the ticket market and also owns many venues. Senators said Live Nation has too much power in the market.
“This is all a definition of monopoly because Live Nation is so powerful that it doesn’t even need to exert pressure,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said.
Clyde Lawrence, of the band Lawrence, said the problem is that for many concerts, Live Nation is the promoter, the venue and the ticketing company, all in one.
“We can trust that the promoter will look to get the best deal from the venue. However, in this case, the promoter and the venue are part of the same corporate entity. So these line items are essentially Live Nation negotiating to pay itself. Does that seem fair?” Lawrence said.
Here are some of the solutions proposed during the hearing:
- Make tickets non-transferable, to block bots and scalpers.
- Pass the Boss Act, which would require ticket marketplaces to disclose their fees and refund policies earlier in the purchase process.
- Strengthen antitrust rules regarding the ticket industry.