January 30, 2023

Save the Net Books

Blogazine on Books, Arts, and Music

US Senate Holds Hearing on Ticketmaster Operations: “The Solutions Are Available”

A U.S. Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Tuesday (Jan. 24) called a hearing on Ticketmaster prompted by the company’s cascading failures in selling tickets for Taylor Swift’s upcoming Eras Tour. During the hearing, chaired by Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mike Lee, the panel heard testimonies and asked questions about ticket sales, monopolization, resale markets and Ticketmaster’s impact on the live music industry. Here are recordings of the livestream hearing and full testimonies.

Klobuchar, who spoke about her own music fandom and campaigned for $15 billion in pandemic aid for independent entertainment venues, stressed the non-partisan nature of the hearing. Senators Josh Hawley, Marsha Blackburn, Dick Durbin, Lindsey Graham and others joined her and Lee in asking questions about Ticketmaster’s activities. Klobuchar, Lee and other participants occasionally quoted texts from Taylor Swift throughout the proceedings. Statements included contributions from singer-songwriter Clyde Lawrence and Jack Groetzinger, CEO of SeatGeek, who explained the numerous logistical challenges faced by ticketing platforms.

Joe Berchtold, President and CFO of Live Nation Entertainment, also spoke at Tuesday’s hearing. The company merged with Ticketmaster in 2010, vertically integrating its venues into the Ticketmaster platform. He issued an apology to Swift on behalf of Ticketmaster, claiming that bots were responsible for the issues that led to the cancellation of the Eras Tour presale date in November. “We apologize to the fans. Our apologies to Mrs Swift. We have to do better and we will do better,” he said. Berchtold went on to address the company’s ticketing fees, a constant point of criticism from fans, saying that it was the venues, not Ticketmaster, who set the additional fees.

Klobuchar said the hearing was intended to raise public awareness, uncover information for the Justice Department, and encourage Republicans and Democrats to consider legislative options to limit the firm’s monopoly. “The solutions are there to take away,” she said as the hearing drew to a close.

Ticketmaster is facing two lawsuits from Taylor Swift fans accusing the company of fraud, misrepresentation and more. The company has been under fire for its practices for nearly 30 years: in 1995, Pearl Jam led a campaign to divest itself of the company’s grip on the live music market. In addition to Swift’s impact, the company was heavily criticized (and later apologized) for canceling several hundred legitimate tickets to Bad Bunny’s sold-out concert in Mexico City.

The Justice Department has also opened an antitrust investigation into potentially unfair conduct by Live Nation Entertainment; The investigation was reportedly launched before the Eras tour tickets went on sale.