3 senators call for DOJ to potentially unwind the Ticketmaster and Live Nation merger: 'High prices and labyrinth-like ticketing process for Taylor Swift's Eras tour are clear examples of the harms consumers face'
- Ticket sales for Taylor Swift's Eras tour plunged into chaos last week, with scarce tickets and long waits.
- The fallout from the ticket sale has refreshed concerns over Ticketmaster and Live Nation's merger.
Some US senators aren't ready to shake off the chaos of trying to purchase Taylor Swift tickets.
The prolific singer, songwriter, and director's ticket sales for her Eras tour prompted immense backlash against Ticketmaster, and refreshed old concerns over the ticket distributor's 2010 merger with Live Nation.
Fans found themselves stuck in queues for hours, only finding pricey tickets on resale sites, and shut out of the general public sale completely after its cancelation. Questions over the merger reignited — with Swiftie lawyers taking up the case — and the Department of Justice is reportedly investigating it.
Now, Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Amy Klobuchar, and Ed Markey wrote in a letter to the DOJ that they're encouraged to hear an investigation is going forward — and if that investigation "reveals that Live Nation has continued to abuse its dominant market position notwithstanding two prior consent decrees, we urge the Department to consider unwinding the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger and breaking up the company."
They note that ticket fees average nearly a quarter to a third of the cost of a ticket, and ticket prices are on the rise. At the same time, they said, many artists have "no choice" but to use Ticketmaster and Live Nation, with the venues and portfolios they control.
"The high prices and labyrinth-like ticketing process for Taylor Swift's Eras tour are clear examples of the harms consumers face in an anti-competitive ticketing market," the senators write. "Because of Live Nation's market dominance, artists, venues, and consumers simply have no choice but to use the platform notwithstanding its flaws and failures."
Even Swift herself lambasted the ticket process, taking to Instagram to say how protective she was of her fans and prefers to conduct things "in house."
"It's really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties, and excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse," Swift wrote.
Ticketmaster apologized to Swift and fans, pointing to record-breaking demand. Live Nation Entertainment has said that it "does not engage in behaviors that could justify antitrust litigation, let alone orders that would require it to alter fundamental business practices." The DOJ and Live Nation Entertainment did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on the letter.
Marshall Moran, a producer, performer, engineer, and steering committee member for the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW), said current ticketing practices can negatively impact both fans and artists.
"It just creates this wedge optically between the artists and their audience, because the audience is upset that their ticket prices are high," Moran said. At the same time, artists might not have much say or control over how much they're making. UMAW is also pushing for the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster to be unwound.
"The Swift presale is the latest and highest profile illustration of the monopolistic harms, but the harm was not even limited to her events," the senators write. "The total failure of Live Nation's Ticketmaster platform during the Swift presale affected anyone trying to purchase or sell tickets to any event. Put simply, artists, venues, and consumers should no longer be at the mercy of a single seller."
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