Following the terrible on-sale period for Taylor Swift’s upcoming Eras tour, which left thousands of Swifties upset as Ticketmaster’s website collapsed and glitched due to the tremendous demand for tickets, LIVE NATION AND Ticketmaster are now dealing with severe reactions from music fans.
Customers complained about the same problems they’ve had with Ticketmaster for years, attracting the attention of legislators who are looking for solutions. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) expressed her antitrust concerns in a letter to Live Nation Entertainment CEO Michael Rapino last week.
The Department of Justice was being looked at, it was revealed last Friday, and the investigation began even before Taylor Swift’s tickets went on sale. Several live music sources have told Rolling Stone that federal investigators had approached them recently with general inquiries regarding Live Nation-related antitrust issues.
Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, it’s merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in.
Break them up.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 15, 2022
One of the first elected officials to criticise the live music industry behemoth over the most recent controversy was New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who tweeted the merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation “should never have been approved” and that “they need to be reigned in.”
The extent to which a monopolistic environment affected Taylor Swift’s on-sale has been questioned by several sources in the live music industry who talked with Rolling Stone. They point out that Swift’s concert witnessed extraordinary demand and might have overloaded any other ticket seller.
(Live Nation Chairman Greg Maffei said last week that 14 million people, including bots, visited the site during the on-sale period despite expectations of 1.5 million fans entering the area. According to Ticketmaster, he said that 900 stadiums would be required to accommodate Swift’s demand.)
According to a lengthy statement released by Live Nation over the weekend, the concert promotion and secondary markets are fiercely competitive. Live Nation claimed that its dominance in the primary market is caused by “the significant gap between the quality of the Ticketmaster system and the next best primary ticketing system.” Additionally, Live Nation stated that it complies with a consent agreement and that there is no proof of “system violations” of the decree. It further noted that Ticketmaster does not set event ticket prices.
Ocasio-Cortez, a member of Congress’s Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, elaborates on her call to break up the companies in an interview with Rolling Stone. She also touches on issues with the larger ticketing market, citing many grievances fans and other industry insiders have long raised, such as fee increases and an unregulated resale market.
I kept an eye on what was happening with Taylor Swift’s ticket pre-release. It came up more personally because several of my employees attempted to purchase tickets that day. I believe it demonstrated the extent of the issue and the level of market consolidation in this sector when I saw their experience and all the people online talking about it.
The work I’ve been doing with the Select Committee for Economic Inequality is built upon this. I’ve been concentrating on market-wide monopoly power. We’ve been noticing more and more that market consolidation is to blame for these price hikes brought on by inflation and the abuse of market power. It’s come to the point that it is seriously affecting our daily lives, from the prices we pay at the grocery store to the prohibitive costs of watching our favourite musicians.
When the merger was approved in 2010, I recall a problem. That period was primarily responsible for my political upbringing. Many decisions at that time drew the line between an increasingly neoliberal order and this emerging social movement with Occupy and everything else that put this intra-democratic party difference toward economic policy at odds. Every person who has purchased tickets over the past ten years has witnessed how much worse this has gotten between the costs and the surcharges.