- The Senate Judiciary Committee held a listening to Tuesday on ticketing competitors and shopper safety.
- Live Nation president and CFO Joe Berchtold apologized to Taylor Swift and followers for the ticket debacle.
- Berchtold said that the ticket market remains to be aggressive. Many different witnesses disagreed.
Joe Berchtold, the president and CFO of Live Nation Entertainment, apologized to Taylor Swift and Swifties alike for the ticketing chaos surrounding the Eras Tour — however insisted that ticketing markets have by no means been more aggressive, seemingly shrugging off claims that Ticketmaster and Live Nation, which merged in 2010, are a monopoly.
“We hear people say that ticketing markets are less competitive today than they were at the time of the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger. That is simply not true,” Berchtold said in ready testimony at a Tuesday Senate Judiciary Committee titled “That’s the Ticket: Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment.”
Berchtold said that the corporate confronted bot assaults through the Swift ticket sale, impacting service, and apologized to Swift and followers.
“We apologize to the fans. We apologize to Ms. Swift,” he said. “We need to do better and we will do better.”
But Berchtold also said that because the merger — which some have pointed to as a purpose for the debacle — “Ticketmaster has lost, not gained, market share.” Live Nation Entertainment has said that it “takes its responsibilities under the antitrust laws seriously and does not engage in behaviors that could justify antitrust litigation.”
Others do not agree. Jack Groetzinger, CEO of ticket resale firm SeatGeek, said in testimony that the only way to revive competitors in the trade is to interrupt up Ticketmaster and Live Nation.
“Live Nation controls the most popular entertainers in the world, routes most of the large tours, operates the ticketing systems and even owns many of the venues. This power over the entire live entertainment industry allows Live Nation to maintain its monopolistic interests over the primary ticketing market,” Groetzinger said.
Jerry Mickelson, CEO and president of JAM Productions, a manufacturing firm, testified that “this merger is vertical integration on steroids, using dominance in one market to expand its power and dominance in another, cutting out the competition and harming the consumers.” Mickelson said that Live Nation “effectively eliminated” competitors for indoor area shows.
Potential ticketing monopolies appear to be the uncommon bipartisan concern, with Republican and Democratic senators alike grilling the Ticketmaster executive.
“Mr. Berchtold, I want to congratulate and thank you for an absolutely stunning achievement,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said. “You have brought together Republicans and Democrats in an absolutely unified cause.”
In opening remarks, Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who co-chaired the listening to with Republican Sen. Mike Lee, said that Ticketmaster would not simply dominate ticketing; they own main venues, lock in different main venues to long-term contracts, and dominate promotion for artists.
“This is all a definition of monopoly, because Live Nation is so powerful that it doesn’t even need to exert pressure,” Klobuchar said. “It doesn’t need to threaten — because people just fall in line.”
Even Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Republican who’s feuded with Swift, closely scrutinized Live Nation Entertainment, saying their concern with bots was “unbelievable.”
Live Nation’s merger with Ticketmaster is under renewed scrutiny
Klobuchar has joined different lawmakers in urging the Department of Justice, which is reportedly investigating the merger, to probably unwind it.
“May I suggest, respectfully, that Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, I’m the problem, it’s me,” Blumenthal said.
While even a dominant famous person like Swift cannot shake off the potential impact of the merger, it is also being felt throughout the trade. Clyde Lawrence, a singer-songwriter for the band Lawrence, testified on the “lopsided deal mechanics” of touring prices. Lawrence, who’s written for the New York Times on Live Nation and its impact on artists, said Live Nation usually capabilities as three various things: promoter, venue, and ticketing firm.
He said artists have no leverage in negotiating, or ticket charges. For occasion, he said he was charged $250 for a pile of fresh towels as soon as.
“We truly do not see Live Nation as the enemy. They’re just the largest player in a game that feels stacked against us as artists and often our fans as well,” Lawrence said.
The existence of the listening to itself speaks to the vigor of Swifties, who have organized extensively in the wake of the Eras Tour ticketing mess. Lina Khan, the chair of the FTC, has said that the tour’s fallout transformed “more Gen Zers into anti-monopolists overnight than anything I could have done.”
“As I was driving up this morning, I couldn’t help but notice I had never seen more smiling and happy demonstrators than I saw today,” Lee said. “I think Swifties have figured something out. They’re very good at getting their point across.”