WASHINGTON – Senators tore into Ticketmaster owner LiveNation Tuesday, accusing it of unfair practices that caused heartache for Taylor Swift fans who were denied tickets to the pop star’s Eras tour last fall.
In its first hearing of the new Congress, the Senate Judiciary Committee scrutinized Ticketmaster’s 2010 merger with LiveNation, which witnesses said created a monopoly resulting in unfairly high prices for concert-goers.
“I believe in capitalism, and to have a strong capitalist system, you have to have competition,” Rep. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said. “You can’t have too much consolidation – something that unfortunately for this country, as an ode to Taylor Swift, I will say we know ‘All Too Well.’”
Matters came to a head this past November when Ticketmaster’s site crashed during a pre-sale for Swift tickets. The company blamed fans and online bot attacks for overwhelming its servers and causing would-be concertgoers to lose tickets after waiting for hours in an online queue.
Ticketmaster later canceled the general sale for Swift tickets due to “extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand.” The company had required fans to register for the presale, and more than 3.5 million people did, a record for the company.
Ticketmaster CEO Joe Berchtold apologized Tuesday to Swift fans and Swift herself and acknowledged the company had to do better. However, Berchtold insisted that artists and venues set ticket prices and service fees — and decides how many tickets will go on sale. The company acknowledges receiving tacked-on delivery, service and order-processing fees.
Those extra fees make up about 27% of the ticket’s face value, with some fees as high as 37%, according to a study published by the Government Accountability Office in 2018 and cited by Klobuchar Tuesday.
Berchtold said the ticketing industry would like lawmakers to focus on the growing problem of ticket scalping and prohibit fraudulent practices, such as resellers offering tickets that haven’t officially gone on sale yet. He also said the industry should be more transparent about pricing and fees.
Through its merger with LiveNation, Ticketmaster owns about 200 major concert venues in the US. The world’s largest ticket seller, Ticketmaster sells about 70% of tickets for all major venues – largely through exclusive contracts, according to a federal lawsuit filed by ticket-buyers filed last year. It also processes 500 million ticket sales each year in more than 30 countries.
With Post wires