Taylor Swift: The Live Nation exec will confront lawmakers over the concert ticket fiasco


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CNN

Lawmakers have questioned a senior executive from Ticketmaster’s parent company after the service’s inability to process orders for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour left millions of fans speechless. Unable to purchase tickets Or without their ticket even after purchase.

Joe Berchtold, president and chief financial officer of Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation Entertainment, testified before a Senate committee on Tuesday, two months after Swift’s ticketing fiasco reignited public scrutiny of the industry.

“As we said after the sale, and I repeat today: We apologize to the fans,” Berchtold said. “We apologize to Ms. Swift. We need to do better and we will do better.”

He said that Ticketmaster “has been hit with three times more bot traffic than we’ve ever seen” amid “unprecedented demand for Taylor Swift tickets”. “The bot activity required 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 take place 52 concerts at multiple venues across the US — sold out at Ticketmaster in mid-November. The huge demand upset the ticketing website, infuriating fans who were unable to get tickets. Customers complained that Ticketmaster would not load, saying that the platform did not allow them to access tickets, even if they had a pre-sale code for verified fans.

Unable to resolve the issues, Ticketmaster later canceled Swift’s concert ticket sales to the general public, citing “extremely high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand.”

As outrage grew among the legions of hardcore Swifties, Swift herself Weighs on fiasco. “It goes without saying that I’m very protective of my fans,” Swift wrote on Instagram in November. “It’s really hard for me to trust an external entity with these relationships and allegiances, and it’s painful for me to watch mistakes happen without recourse.”

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As a result, the United States Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing titled “Here’s the Ticket: Enhancing Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment” to examine the lack of competition in the ticketing industry.

During her opening remarks, Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, emphasized in her opening remarks the importance of competition to support the capitalist system. While criticizing the amount of consolidation in the market, she used Taylor Swift’s words, saying it’s a practice the country knows “well.”

“To have a strong capitalist system,” she said, “you have to have competition.” “You can never have too much fusion—something, unfortunately for this country, that as an ode to Taylor Swift, I will say, we know too well.”

Berchtold suggested that venues have a significant advantage to run their operations. He testified that Ticketmaster does not set ticket prices, does not specify the number of tickets on sale and that “in most cases, venues set service fees and ticket fees”, not Ticketmaster.

In addition to the executives, the panel said the witnesses at the hearing included Jack Grotzinger, CEO of ticketing platform SeatGeek; 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 the dominant concert promoter and ticket reader at major venues in the United States, “the industry will continue to be competitive and struggling”.

Criticism of Ticketmaster’s dominance It goes back decadesbut the Swift tickets incident has turned the issue back into a dinner table discussion in many families.

Concert promoter Live Nation and Ticketmaster, two of the world’s largest concert companies, announced their merger in 2009. The deal at the time raised concerns, including From the US Department of Justicethat it would create a near-monopoly in the industry.

Ministry of Justice Permissible The Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger to move forward despite a court filing in 2010 in the case that raised objections to the merger. In the filing, the DOJ said Ticketmaster’s share among major concert venues exceeded 80%.

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Ticketmaster disputes its market share estimate and says it has just over 30% of the concert market, according to From comments on NPR recently by Berchtold.

On Tuesday, the ranking Democrat and Republican in the Senate weighed in on Ticketmaster’s economic dominance.

Committee Chairman Senator Dick Durbin said, “These issues are symptoms of a larger problem, I believe,” arguing that ticketing for the live event was “dominated by a single entity” created from the merger.

Durbin said he believes the legally binding consent agreement allowing Live Nation to complete the deal on terms has not been successful in maintaining competition.

Senator Lindsey Graham, the top Republican on the committee, agreed that “the consolidation of power in the hands of a few can create problems for the many.”

“Beyond this hearing,” he said, “I hope we can offer a better experience for the consumer where they’re able to buy tickets for things you want to see without such a disaster” as Taylor Swift’s ticketing process.

While angry fans were left scrambling for Swift’s ticket In the confusion, their collective anger caught the attention of lawmakers.

Members of Congress used the debacle to criticize Ticketmaster’s control of the live music industryAnd In saying that because Ticketmaster is so dominant, it has no reason to make things better for the millions of customers who have no other choice.

“Ticketmaster’s strength in the core ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically drive companies to innovate and improve their services,” said Klobuchar, who chairs the antitrust subcommittee, He wrote in an open letter to the CEO of Ticketmaster in November. “That could lead to the kinds of dramatic failures of service that we’ve seen this week, where it’s the consumers who pay the price.”

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Senator Richard Blumenthal echoed Klobuchar’s concerns. He tweeted at the time that the tour “is a perfect example of how the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger can hurt consumers by creating a near-monopoly.”

In December, lawmakers from the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent A Message to Michael Rapinoe, CEO of Live Nation, requesting a briefing on what went wrong and the steps the company is taking to fix the issues.

“The recent pre-sale ticketing process for Taylor Swift’s upcoming IRAs tour — during which millions of fans have suffered delays, closures and competition with aggressive scammers, scalpers and bots — raises concerns about unfair and deceptive practices facing consumers and event-goers,” the commission wrote in its letter.

The committee noted that it had previously raised concerns about business practices in the industry and said it wanted to meet with Rapino to discuss how the company handles tickets for concerts and major tours. It also wants answers about how Ticketmaster plans to improve in the future.

Brian A. Marks, senior lecturer in the department of economics and business analytics at the University of New Haven’s Pompea School of Business, said he would have liked Swift to do Appear at the hearing.

“This hearing seems to focus on Swift and what happened to ticket sales. We also have to remember that Taylor Swift and her team negotiated a contract with Ticketmaster to sell her concert tickets,” Marks said.

Will Congress want to consider this contract? For me, what happened with Swift’s concert tickets wasn’t necessarily the result of Ticketmaster being the dominant player in the industry,” he said. Artists, especially big ones like Swift, “are free to go elsewhere,” he said. “The point may be missed in tomorrow’s session.”

— CNN’s Brian Fung, Frank Pallotta, Chris Isidore, and David Goldman contributed to this story

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