Ticketmaster’s Taylor Swift Mayhem Triggers US Senate Antitrust Hearing | Taylor Swift

A US Senate antitrust panel will begin a hearing into the lack of competition in the nation’s ticketing industry following Ticketmaster’s problems last week managing the sale of Taylor Swift tickets.

Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation, has blamed presale problems for Swift’s Eras tour – the pop superstar’s first US tour in five years – on “unprecedented demand” and an attempt to keep out bots run by ticket scalpers.

After registered fans struggled with errors for hours to get tickets in the pre-sale, and tickets quickly started appearing for resale for as much as US$22,700 (£19,100, A$33,500), Ticketmaster canceled the sale to the public. It later claimed that demand for Swift tickets “could have filled 900 stadiums”.

Swift has said that it was “excruciating” for her to see fans struggling to secure tickets and that she had been assured that Ticketmaster could handle the demand.

The chaos drew attention from US politicians, many of whom have expressed concern about how dominant Ticketmaster has become since it merged with entertainment company Live Nation in 2010.

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti has said he will launch a consumer protection investigation into the company after his office was bombarded with complaints from Swift fans.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has also criticized the merger. “Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, its merger with Live Nation should never have been approved and they need to be reined in,” she tweeted. “Look them up.”

On Tuesday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who will chair the panel, and Sen. Mike Lee, the top Republican on the committee, announced that the Senate hearing would continue. They have not yet given a date or a list of witnesses.

“The high fees, website disruptions and cancellations customers experienced show how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company faces no pressure to continuously innovate and improve,” Klobuchar said. “We will be holding a hearing on how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry is hurting both customers and artists.”

Ticketmaster denied any anticompetitive practices and said it remained under a consent decree with the Justice Department after the 2010 merger, adding that there was “no evidence of systemic violations of the consent decree.”

“Ticketmaster has a significant share of the primary ticketing services market due to the wide gap between the quality of the Ticketmaster system and the next best primary ticketing system,” the company said.

Klobuchar was one of three lawmakers who argued in a letter Monday that Ticketmaster and Live Nation should be broken up by the Justice Department if any wrongdoing was found in an ongoing investigation.

The department has in recent years proven much more willing to bring antitrust lawsuits against giant companies — including the ongoing December 2020 lawsuit against Google — and to fight mergers.

Reuters contributed to this report

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