Taylor Swift: Live Nation exec will face lawmakers about concert tickets fiasco


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CNN

The members of the council are designated to senior executives from The event ticket industry on Tuesday after Ticketmaster was unable to process orders for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour leaving millions of fans unable to purchase tickets or without their tickets even after purchase.

Joe Berchtold, chairman and CFO of Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation Entertainment, is scheduled to testify before a Senate committee on Tuesday, two months after the Swift ticketing fiasco reignited public scrutiny of the industry. Jack Groetzinger, CEO of ticketing platform SeatGeek, is also scheduled to testify at the hearing.

Tickets for Swift’s new five-month Eras tour – which kicks off on March 17 and will feature 52 concerts in various arenas across the US – went on sale on Ticketmaster in mid-November. Heavy demand overwhelmed ticketing venues, creating chaos for fans unable to snag tickets. Customers complained about Ticketmaster not loading, saying the platform didn’t allow them to access tickets, even though they had presale codes for confirmed fans.

Unable to resolve the issue, Ticketmaster later canceled sales of Swift’s concert tickets to the general public, citing “extraordinarily high demand in the ticketing system and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand.”

As anger grew among a group of hard-pressed Swifties, Swift herself weighed in on the fiasco. “It goes without saying that I’m extremely protective of my boyfriend,” Swift wrote on Instagram in November.

Therefore, the US Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing on Tuesday, entitled “That’s the Ticket: Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment” to examine the lack of competition in the ticketing industry.

“The problems within the American ticket industry were painfully obvious when Ticketmaster’s website failed hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to buy tickets for Taylor Swift’s new tour, but these problems are not new,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who sits on the committee, said. In a statement on the hearing. “We will examine how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry harms customers and artists. Without competition to promote better service and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences.”

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In his prepared opening remarks, Berchtold blamed “industry scalpers” for recent online ticket snafus and called for legislation to rein in those bad actors. Ticketmaster, he said, “was hit with three times more bot traffic than we’ve ever experienced” amid “unprecedented demand for Taylor Swift tickets.” Bot activity “requires us to slow down and even stop our sales. This is what leads to a terrible consumer experience that we deeply regret.”

“As we said after the sale, and I reiterate today, we apologize to the disappointed fans and Ms. Swift,” he said in an opening statement. Berchtold also noted some things the service could have done differently “in hindsight,” including “making sales more exciting over a longer period of time and doing a better job of setting fan expectations for getting tickets.”

In addition to the executive, the committee said that witnesses at the hearing will include Jerry Mickelson, CEO of Jam Productions, one of the largest producers of live entertainment, and singer-songwriter Clyde Lawrence.

Lawrence, who has composed music for motion pictures including the Disney+ comedy “Noelle,” wrote a commentary for The New York Times In December titled “Taylor Swift’s Live Nation Controversy Is Just Beginning,” he criticized Live Nation for the allegations. It is monopolistic and harmful to artists.

“Whether or not it meets the legal definition of a monopoly, Live Nation’s control of the live music ecosystem is troubling,” he wrote.

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Criticism of Ticketmaster dominance For decadesBut the Swift ticket incident has once again turned that issue into a dinner table conversation in many households.

Concert promoter Live Nation and Ticketmaster, two of the biggest companies in the concert business, announced their merger in 2009. The deal at the time raised concerns, including from the US Department of Justice, that it would create a near-monopoly. Industry.

The Justice Department allowed the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger to proceed despite a 2010 court filing in a case challenging the merger. In a filing, the Justice Department said Ticketmaster’s share of major concert venues exceeds 80%.

Ticketmaster disputes that market share estimate and says it holds more than 30% of the concert market, according to a recent NPR comment by Berchtold.

As jealous fans were left scrambling for Swift tickets Their agitation and anger attracted the attention of members of parliament.

Lawmakers used the argument to criticize Ticketmaster’s control of the live music industry, Having said that because Ticketmaster is so dominant, there is no reason to make things better for millions of customers who have no other options.

“Ticketmaster’s power in the primary ticket market will protect it from the competitive pressures that normally push companies to innovate and improve their services,” Klobuchar, the antitrust subcommittee chairman, wrote in an open letter to Ticketmaster’s CEO in November. “That could result in the kind of massive service failures we’ve seen this week, where the consumer is the one paying the price.”

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

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Last December, members of parliament from the Energy and Commerce Committee of the National Assembly submitted a proposal. letter With the CEO of Live Nation Mr. Michael Rapino, asked for a brief summary of what went wrong and what the company is doing to fix the problem.

“The recent pre-sale ticketing process for Taylor Swift’s upcoming Eras tour — in which millions of fans have endured delays, blackouts, and competition with aggressive scammers, scalpers and bots — raises concerns about unfair practices and deception faced by consumers and event-goers,” the commission wrote in its letter.

The board previously noted it was concerned about the industry’s business practices and said it wanted to meet with Rapino to discuss how the company handles tickets for major concerts and tours. It also needs answers on how Ticketmaster plans to improve in the future.

Brian A. Marks, a senior professor in the Department of Economics and Business Analysis at the University of New Haven’s Pompea College of Business, said he would like Swift to build. Appear at the hearing.

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

“Will Congress want to look at that contract? To me, what happened with Swift concert tickets is not necessary because Ticketmaster is a dominant player in the industry,” he said. Artists, and especially big artists like Swift, “are free to go anywhere else,” he said. “This point may be missed in tomorrow’s hearing.”

– CNN’s Frank Pallotta, Chris Isidore and David Goldman contributed to this story



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