I haven’t tried to get concert tickets for a super popular artist in years, but Taylor Swift fans have had a terrible time of it this week. Next year, she’s touring for the first time since 2018 and it’s been nearly impossible for fans to get tickets due to issues with Ticketmaster. The pre-sale, with Ticketmaster’s “Verified Fans” category and various other entry points, was a such a fustercluck that last night Ticketmaster canceled today’s public sale, saying there weren’t enough tickets left. Poor Swifty fans. Just before the public sale was canceled, Senator Amy Klobuchar wrote a letter to Ticketmaster stating her concern about the lack of competition in the ticket sales industry and the negative impact that has on customers.
In the wake of widespread problems around Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen tour on-sales, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, has written a letter to Ticketmaster raising concern about the lack of competition in the ticketing industry and the service it provides to consumers.
Widespread complaints about astronomical prices, long wait times and crashing computer servers plagued the first day of ticket sales for Swift’s 2023 tour on Tuesday, further rocking an industry that has been saddled with accusations of problematic business practices for many years. Ticketmaster, which is by far the dominant ticketing business in the country, has been particularly criticized.
“I write to express serious concerns about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its harmful impact on consumers. Reports about system failures, increasing fees, and complaints of conduct that violate the consent decree Ticketmaster is under suggest that Ticketmaster continues to abuse its market positions,” Klobuchar (D-Mn.) wrote to Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Ticketmaster’s parent company, 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’s letter continued.
But Klobuchar’s chair position and history with the live entertainment industry bring a new element to the situation. She was a key leader in the “Save Our Stages” campaign that brought $16 billion in federal pandemic relief to independent music venues and theaters, and in April 2020, she and Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) urged the Department of Justice Antitrust Division to take action to ensure small and independent venues can compete on a level playing field in the live entertainment marketplace.
Senator Klobuchar’s letter was published in its entirety in the Variety article. And there are no lies detected there. Ticketmaster has been a total racket for years, probably since it merged with Live Nation back in 2010. The fees are insane, tickets are bought up and resold for even higher prices so fast, it’s basically a huge problem. And even as just an occasional concertgoer, I’ve received over the years random credits and discounts due to class action suits that others have pursued. Like, why has there ever been a “processing fee” and “service charge” and they’re higher than ever even though everything is online and paper tickets have been phased out? To fleece the customers, that’s why. The lack of competition has just allowed Ticketmaster to get bigger and more expensive without making any improvements because they’re the only option. The article also notes that a couple of years ago Senators Klobuchar and Blumenthal “called on the DOJ Antitrust Division to investigate the state of competition in the ticketing marketplace, given news reports that Ticketmaster-Live Nation was not adhering to the conditions of the antitrust consent decree governing its merger.” Sounds like continuing or another investigation is in order.
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