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Congress to Hold Hearing After Ticketmaster-Taylor Swift Fiasco

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In the wake of the major problems surrounding Ticketmaster’s management of Taylor Swift tour ticket sales last week, a U.S. Senate antitrust panel will hold a hearing on the lack of competition in the industry, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT) announced Tuesday. The hearing comes after reports of major service failures and delays on Ticketmaster’s website that left fans unable to purchase concert tickets.

The hearing date and witnesses will be announced at a later date; Klobuchar announced in a statement last week that a hearing was in the works.

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In a Friday statement Swift said her team had asked Ticketmaster “multiple times if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could.” She said the situation “pissed me off” and added that it was “excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse.” However, she did not mention the incident or touring in multiple appearances on the American Music Awards on Sunday night.

Contacted by Variety, a rep for Ticketmaster parent company Live Nation referred back to the company’s statement last week, which said in part, “The Eras on sale made one thing clear: Taylor Swift is an unstoppable force and continues to set records,” Ticketmaster wrote in its explanation. “We strive to make ticket buying as easy as possible for fans, but that hasn’t been the case for many people trying to buy tickets for the Eras Tour. We want to share some information to help explain what happened.”

“Last week, the competition problem in ticketing markets was made painfully obvious when Ticketmaster’s website failed hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to purchase concert tickets. The high fees, site disruptions and cancellations that customers experienced shows how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company does not face any pressure to continually innovate and improve,” said Klobuchar. “That’s why we will hold a hearing on how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry harms customers and artists alike. When there is no competition to incentivize better services and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences.”

“American consumers deserve the benefit of competition in every market, from grocery chains to concert venues,” said Lee. “I look forward to exercising our Subcommittee’s oversight authority to ensure that anticompetitive mergers and exclusionary conduct are not crippling an entertainment industry already struggling to recover from pandemic lockdowns.”

When the tickets went on sale Nov. 15, the company’s website crashed because of the fan demand, while tons of fans who did get into the queue had to wait for over two hours to get a chance at purchasing tickets. Other fans got blindsided by being sent to a wait list. Backlash against Ticketmaster exploded, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling for the company’s merger with LiveNation to be broken up.

Last week, Klobuchar wrote a letter to Ticketmaster expressing concern about the lack of competition in the ticketing industry and questioning whether the company is taking necessary steps to provide the best service it can to consumers.

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