Lawmakers grilled a top executive at Ticketmaster’s parent company after the service’s inability to process orders for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour left millions of fans stranded. Unable to purchase tickets or without their tickets even after purchase.
Joe Berchtold, president and CFO of Ticketmaster parent company Live Nation Entertainment, testified before a Senate committee Tuesday after two months of public scrutiny of the industry over the Swift ticketing fiasco.
“As we said after Onsel, and I say again today: we apologize to the fans,” Berchtold said. “We apologize to Ms. Swift. We have to do better and we will do better.”
Ticketmaster, he said, was “hit with three times the amount of bot traffic we’ve ever experienced” amid the “unprecedented demand for Taylor Swift tickets.” The bot activity “forced us to slow down and even pause our sales. This led to a terrible consumer experience that we deeply regret.”
Tickets for Swift’s new five-month Eras tour — which kicks off March 17 and will feature 52 concerts in multiple stadiums across the U.S. — went on sale on Ticketmaster in mid-November. Ticketing sites are hit by high demand, angering fans who can’t get tickets. Customers have complained about Ticketmaster not loading, saying the platform doesn’t allow them to access tickets, even if they have a pre-sale code for verified fans.
Unable to resolve the issues, Ticketmaster later canceled sales of Swift’s concert tickets to the general public, citing “extraordinarily high demand on the ticketing system and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand.”
Swift herself as anger grows among the hardcore Swift’s legions to weigh On the failure “It goes without saying that I am extremely protective of my fans,” Swift wrote on Instagram in November. “It’s really hard for me to trust an outside entity with this relationship and loyalty, and it’s frustrating for me to see mistakes happen without a way out.”
As a result, the US Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “It’s the Ticket: Promoting Competition and Consumer Protection in Live Entertainment” to examine the lack of competition in the ticketing industry.
During her opening remarks, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, emphasized the importance of competition in maintaining the capitalist system. While criticizing the extent of consolidation in the market, he used a Taylor Swift song, saying it was a practice the country knows “all too well”.
“You have to compete for a strong capitalist system,” he said. “You can’t have too much integration — something that, unfortunately for this country, we know ‘all too well,’ as a salute to Taylor Swift, I’d say.”
Berchtold suggests that places enjoy significant downtime to run their operations. He testified that Ticketmaster does not set ticket prices, does not determine the number of tickets held for sale, and that “in most cases, venues determine service and ticketing fees,” not Ticketmaster.
In addition to the officials, the committee said witnesses at the hearing included Jack Grotzinger, CEO of ticketing platform Sitzik; Jerry Mickelson, CEO of Jam Productions, one of the largest producers of live entertainment; and singer-songwriter Clyde Lawrence.
Groetzinger testified that as long as Live Nation remains both a dominant concert promoter and ticketer in major U.S. venues, “the lack of competition and struggle in the industry will continue.”
Criticism on the power of Ticketmaster dates back decadesBut the Swift Ticket incident has once again turned the issue into a dinner table discussion in many homes.
Concert promoter Live Nation and ticket company Ticketmaster, two of the biggest companies in the concert business, announced their merger in 2009. At the time the deal raised concerns, including: From the US Department of JusticeThis would create a near monopoly in the industry.
Department of Justice allowed A 2010 court filing challenging the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger will move forward, though. In the filing, the Justice Department said Ticketmaster’s share of major concert venues exceeded 80%.
Ticketmaster disputes the market share estimates and says it holds more than 30% of the concert market, according to Comment on NPR Recently by Berchtold.
On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary’s leading Democrat and Republican weighed in on Ticketmaster’s economic dominance.
“These problems are indicative of, I think, a larger problem,” said committee chairman Sen. Dick Durbin, arguing that live event ticketing has been “dominated by an entity” that was created out of the merger.
Durbin said he believes the legally binding consent agreement allowing Live Nation to complete the deal with the terms did not succeed in protecting competition. If the current judiciary concludes that the consent decree has been violated, “the issue of consolidation should be raised,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, the panel’s top Republican, agreed that “consolidation of power in the hands of a few can create problems for the many.”
“Out of this hearing,” he said, “I hope we can create a better customer experience to be able to buy tickets to the things you want to see without a disaster like the Taylor Swift ticketing process.
While angry fans scrambled to walk through Swift tickets Confused, their collective anger caught the attention of lawmakers.
Members of Congress used the defeat to criticize Ticketmaster’s control of the live music industry, That being said since Ticketmaster is so dominant, there is no reason to make things better for the millions of customers who have no other options.
“Ticketmaster’s strength in the primary ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically pressure companies to innovate and improve their services,” Klobuchar, who chairs the antitrust subcommittee, said. wrote in an open letter to the CEO of Ticketmaster in November. “This can lead to the type of dramatic service failures we’ve seen this week, with consumers paying the price.”
Blumenthal echoed Klobuchar’s concerns. He tweeted at the time that the tour was “a perfect example of how the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger hurts consumers by creating a near-monopoly.”
In December, lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a the letter Live Nation’s CEO, Michael Rapinoe, demanded a briefing on what went wrong and what steps the company is taking to fix the problem.
“The recent pre-sale ticketing process for Taylor Swift’s upcoming Eras Tour – where millions of fans endured delays, lockouts and competition from aggressive scammers, scalpers and bots – raises concerns about potential unfair and deceptive practices that consumers and event-goers face, the committee said. wrote in his letter.
The committee noted that it had previously raised concerns about the industry’s business practices and said it wanted to meet with Rapinoe to discuss how the company processes tickets for concerts and major tours. It also seeks answers on how Ticketmaster plans to improve in the future.
Brian A. Marks, a senior lecturer in the Department of Economics and Business Analytics at the University of New Haven’s Pompeii College of Business, said he would have loved to have Swift create one. Attendance at hearing.
“This hearing seems to be focused on Swift and what happened with ticket sales. We also have to remember that Taylor Swift and her team negotiated a deal with Ticketmaster to sell her concert tickets,” Marks said.
“Will Congress want to see that deal? To me, what happened with Swift concert tickets is not necessarily the result of Ticketmaster being the dominant player in the industry,” he said. Artists, and especially big ones like Swift, “are free elsewhere,” he said. “This point may be missed in tomorrow’s hearing.”
– CNN’s Brian Fung, Frank Pallotta, Chris Isidore and David Goldman contributed to this story