Bobb Angel
Bobb Angel
6:00am - 9:00am
The Morning Report w/ Bobb and Jane

Business News

Ticketmaster's Taylor Swift ticket fiasco spurs new Senate hearing

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- It was a Ticketmaster meltdown that sent millions of Taylor Swift fans spiraling: lockouts, delays, hours of confusion and soaring aftermarket prices amid reports of scalpers.

During the November presale for Swift's upcoming "Eras" tour, Ticketmaster was forced to halt purchases for her shows, citing "extraordinarily high demands" and "insufficient remaining ticket inventory," drawing outcry from Swifties -- and the artist herself.

Now they face lawmakers.

"This garnered a lot of attention in November when Ticketmaster's systems failed during the presale for Taylor Swift's new tour, leaving millions of fans stuck in virtual queues for hours waiting to buy tickets," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Tuesday to open a Judiciary Committee hearing on the issue. "These issues are symptomatic, I think, of a larger problem. The ticketing and live entertainment markets lack competition and are dominated by a single entity: Live Nation."

In the fall, Ticketmaster said that "every ticket was sold to a buyer with a Verified Fan code."

"While it's impossible for everyone to get tickets to these shows, we know we can do more to improve the experience and that's what we're focused on," the company said then.

Ahead of Tuesday's hearing, lawmakers said they planned to focus on Live Nation and Ticketmaster's 2010 merger, which has given the company an outsized influence on the market -- with critics highlighting how they can raise ticket prices, shut out smaller venues and smaller artists and sideline rival ticket companies. The merger drew particular scrutiny from some members of Congress in the wake of the Swift ticketing fiasco.

"To have a strong capitalist system, you have to have competition. You can't have too much consolidation," Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said at the hearing. "Something that unfortunately for this country -- as an ode to Taylor Swift, I will say -- we know all too well."

Ahead of the hearing, Klobuchar told ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott that "if it's Taylor Swift fans that move some of my colleagues on monopolies, great."

"Some of the things that came out of the Taylor Swift concert were larger than life because it's Taylor Swift. But many of the things were things we've been hearing for years [about ticketing issues], and it's time to take this on. The fees are too high, and there's not enough competition," she said.

Top executives from the ticketing industry were set to testify, including the president and CFO from Live Nation, Joe Berchtold, and SeatGeek CFO Jack Groetzinger.

During Berchtold's opening statement, which was obtained by ABC News, he will point the blame at ticket-scalping, arguing that "breaking the law using bots and cyberattacks to try to unfairly gain tickets contributes to an awful consumer experience."

"There are problems in the ticketing industry -- problems that we believe can and should be addressed through legislation. Many are the direct result of the industrial-scale ticket scalping that goes on today, which is a $5 billion dollar industry in concerts alone and is fueled by practices that run counter to the interests of artists and fans," Berchtold plans to say.

Singer-songwriter Clyde Lawrence, from the band Lawrence, is also expected to testify with his bandmate Jordan Cohen. They say it's the overwhelming control Live Nation has over the industry that leads to lopsided deals.

"Our place is to tell some of the experiences that we have from the unique perspective of artists that are really hands on ... and just talk about some of the ways that we've run into road bumps about trying to get a fair deal for ourselves," Lawrence told Rachel Scott.

The musicians said that, as one example, they receive no profit from the fees Ticketmaster adds onto tickets: "We have zero say in setting what they are and we have zero participation in any of that money," Cohen said.

"We are looking to Live Nation, as the leader of the industry, to just give us a crumb, give us some breadcrumbs. I don't know if the government needs to get involved. That's, again, not our area of expertise," Cohen said. "But we would just hope that the industry leaders make a little bit of change."

ABC News' Libby Cathey contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Weather

 

Closings & Delays

RI EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

COVID-19

image of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

SnoCountry

Rhode Island Features

On Facebook