In a move mostly aimed at entertainment giant Ticketmaster, a newly proposed U.S. Congressional bill, named after Bruce Springsteen and Taylor Swift, seeks to do something about the increasing financial and technical difficulties experienced by music fans trying to see live concerts.
Co-sponsored by Democratic Congressmen Bill Pascrell, Jr., and Frank Pallone, Jr., the ‘Boss and Swift Act’ would: Require all-in pricing that discloses the true cost of a ticket, including fees; mandate full disclosure of refund policies and whether or not a ticket is new or being re-sold; mandate full transparency about the total number of tickets available; protect the right of consumers to transfer tickets, and also forbid restrictions placed on fans who re-sell them.
The bill would also try to limit “speculative ticket sales,” protect customers from fraud, force disclosure if a seller on the re-sale market is actually the artist or venue, forbid selling the same seats to multiple people, and limit unauthorized markups.
“For too long, millions of American fans have been unable to get a fair shake for their tickets and cry out for relief,” Pascrell said in a statement announcing the bill. “The recent experience of Taylor Swift fans being locked out of her tour is not new and Swifties are just the latest victims of Ticketmaster’s policies and a broken market. For decades, the ticket market has been the Wild West: Mammoth, opaque, speculative, and brutally unfair.”
He added: ” A fan shouldn’t have to sell a kidney or mortgage a house to see their favorite performer or team.”
Fans of Springsteen and Swift, though hardly alone, very public experienced egregious problems when trying to buy tickets for the artists’ shows in 2022. In Springsteen’s case, some fans were gouged by prices as high as $5,000 thanks to what Ticketmaster called “dynamic pricing.” Swift’s fans meanwhile were subjected to absolute chaos as Ticketmaster’s system was unable to accommodate demand for tickets and repeatedly crashed — ultimately giving the advantage to scalpers, who jacked up the price on re-sale markets. That incident sparked bipartisan outrage in Congress.
Pascrell and Pallone have been proposing this kind of legislation since 2009, but so far Ticketmaster has escaped additional federal oversight. Pascrell opposed Ticketmaster’s merger with Live Nation in 2010, when it was approved by the US Justice Department.
“Consumers deserve to enjoy their favorite artists and live entertainment without breaking the bank. It’s past time to update the ticket marketplace to ensure it’s fair, transparent, and working for ticket buyers – not Ticketmaster or resellers,” Pallone, who represents New Jersey, said in a video posted on Twitter.
Calling the ticket market “brutally unfair” to the consumer, Pascrell added: “A fan shouldn’t have to sell a kidney or mortgage a house to see their favorite performer or team. At long last, it is time to create rules for fair ticketing in this country and my legislation will do exactly that for all the fans.”
Meanwhile, at a conference in February, Irving Azoff, a music industry executive and former CEO of Ticketmaster Entertainment, blamed scalpers.
“Scalping has always been a problem for the concert industry,” Azoff said at the 34th annual Pollstar Live event. “But it only got to be a critical problem for the industry when the tech companies got involved and created these huge scale platforms like Vivid, StubHub and SeatGeek that profit from every scalper sale.”