Senate questions Live Nation president amid Taylor Swift ticketing debacle

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“May I suggest respectfully that Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m the problem, it’s me,’” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said on the Senate flooring Tuesday, referencing Taylor Swift’s newest hit “Anti-Hero.” In a listening to on shopper safety and competitors in live leisure, senators grilled Live Nation CFO and president Joe Berchtold over considerations that the corporate, which purchased Ticketmaster in 2010, could also be a monopoly.

In November, the “verified fan” presale for Swift’s extremely anticipated Eras tour went horribly incorrect. In an unprecedented transfer, Ticketmaster halted gross sales attributable to overwhelming demand, stating that the positioning experienced 3.5 billion system requests, or more than 4 instances its earlier peak, attributable to bot assaults. A month later, Mexican regulators fined Ticketmaster when 1000’s of followers have been turned away from a Bad Bunny live performance, regardless of holding tickets bought on Ticketmaster (regulators said the corporate oversold tickets, however Ticketmaster said these have been faux tickets).

After years of paying hidden charges and dropping out tickets to scalpers, followers and regulators alike have had sufficient. Making one more of many Swift references, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said that music and sports activities followers now perceive the dangers of company consolidation “all too well.” And as Federal Trade Commission chair Lina Khan said on the time of the Swift ticketing fiasco, the incident “converted more Gen Z’ers into antimonopolists overnight than anything I could have done.”

When the government investigated the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation over twelve years in the past, the Justice Department reported that the mixed firm would management 80% of main live performance venues. When questioned under oath on Tuesday, Berchtold said he believes the corporate truly controls round 50 to 60% of that market, as a result of rise of secondary resale markets on websites like SeatGeek; its founder and CEO Jack Groetzinger testified on the listening to as effectively. Still, Ticketmaster sells tickets for 80 of the highest 100 arenas in the country, whereas Live Nation can generally function because the promoter, owner and operator of that same venue.

The association is dangerous for followers, who may watch as their favourite artist sells out an area show in seconds, only for 1000’s of bot-purchased tickets to be instantly reposted for double the price. But it also harms the musicians themselves.

Testifying before the senate, impartial musician Clyde Lawrence said, “In a world where the promoter and the venue are not affiliated with each other, we can trust that the promoter will look to get the best deal from the venue; however, in this case, the promoter and the venue are part of the same corporate entity, so the line items are essentially Live Nation negotiating to pay itself.” Lawrence added that artists get no cut of ticketing charges, coat checks, parking passes or bar tabs, whereas Live Nation takes 20% of their income from merch gross sales. If he performs a show the place tickets cost $42 together with charges, Lawrence said his band would get $12. After placing half of that towards touring prices, the band receives $6 per ticket in revenue, which is break up up amongst all of its members, pretax.

The Justice Department had authorized this merger in 2010 with the situation of a consent decree, which was supposed to forestall Live Nation and Ticketmaster from performing an excessive amount of like a monopoly. But in 2019, Justice officers alleged that the corporate violated the settlement, since Live Nation had pressured venues to sign contracts with Ticketmaster. As a end result, the decree — which was set to run out that year — was prolonged to stay in impact till 2025, together with some modifications.

Now, in mild of the Swift snafu, the division is investigating Live Nation once more.

“If the Department of Justice establishes facts that involve monopolistic and predatory abuses, there ought to be structural remedies, such as breaking up the company,” Blumenthal said at Tuesday’s listening to. “We’ll see what the Department of Justice finds.”

Some Senators proposed potential options to the issue.

Passed under the Obama administration in 2016, the Better Online Ticket Sales Act (aptly named, the BOTS Act) offers the FTC license to crackdown on bot-driven ticket resale companies. Senator Blumenthal and Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) argued that, in the same vein, the FTC must strain Live Nation to figure out its bot downside.

“There ought to be people you can get some good advice from, because our critical infrastructure in this country — whether it is utilities, electric water, power, banking services, credit card processors, payment processors, healthcare companies — you know what, they get bot attacks every single day, by the thousands and thousands, and they have figured it out but you guys haven’t,” Senator Blackburn said.

The BOTS Act has only been enforced one time since 2016, when the FTC charged three ticket brokers with over $31 million in penalties in 2021.

“We have a limited level of power on something that hasn’t been consistently enforced,” Berchtold testified.

Senator Blumenthal retorted, “You have unlimited power to go to court.”

Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) recommended that Live Nation make tickets nontransferable in order to forestall bot resales. The witnesses have been quiet for a second, and Kennedy said, sarcastically, “Don’t all jump in at once.” The proposal may make easy conveniences troublesome, like shopping for two tickets and sending one to a pal, or promoting a ticket for those who get sick before a show; plus, it may encourage gross sales of fraudulent tickets. Groetzinger, who operates a serious resale web site, said he wouldn’t help such a coverage; Berchtold said he would. 

The committee’s path ahead to carry Live Nation accountable is unclear, however the Department of Justice’s investigation of Live Nation is ongoing.

Ticketmaster faces antitrust scrutiny after Taylor Swift ticket chaos

Mexican regulators are fining Ticketmaster after Bad Bunny live performance fiasco

Senate questions Live Nation president amid Taylor Swift ticketing debacle by Amanda Silberling initially printed on TechCrunch

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