Sen. Amy Klobuchar Confirms Congressional Antitrust Hearing In Wake Of Ticketmaster’s Taylor Swift Fiasco – Update

UPDATE: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is following through on plans to hold a U.S. Senate antitrust panel hearing into the lack of competition in the ticketing industry. Public outrcry over the issue has reached a crescendo in recent days after the fiasco of Ticketmaster’s chaotic handling of the upcoming Taylor Swift tour.

“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, chair of the antitrust panel, in a statement Tuesday. “We will hold a hearing on how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry harms customers and artists alike.”

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Neither Klobuchar nor Republican panel member Sen. Mike Lee disclosed a hearing date or specified potential witnesses, according to Reuters.

Ticketmaster responded in a statement that it continues to abide by a 2010 consent decree with the Justice Department, and explained the company’s dominance in the industry was due to its “quality.”

“Ticketmaster has a significant share of the primary ticketing services market because of the large gap that exists between the quality of the Ticketmaster system and the next best primary ticketing system,” the company said in a statement.

Earlier this week, Klobuchar was among the lawmakers calling for the breaking-up of Ticketmaster and owner Live Nation Entertainment if a Department of Justice investigation determines any misconduct.

PREVIOUS Nov. 19: Ticketmaster feels little Susie’s pain, the corporate giant said Friday.

The ducats company issued a statement Friday that apologized for the technical mess that resulted in fans being locked out of purchasing the coveted seats to Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour.”

“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 Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour. First, we want to apologize to Taylor and all of her fans – especially those who had a terrible experience trying to purchase tickets.”

Swift herself lent her voice to the chorus of outrage, joined by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). It was also revealed that the US Justice Dept. has been looking at Ticketmaster even before this latest incident.

Ticketmaster claims it didn’t anticipate the demand. Members of Swift’s “Verified Fan” program got first crack at the seats, given a special code to use that would provide access.

However, the overwhelming number of fans arriving on the opening day of the presale “disrupted the predictability and reliability that is the hallmark of our Verified Fan platform.”

That resulted in the cancellation of the planned public offering, since there was “insufficient remaining ticket inventory,” the company said.

Friday’s statement ended with a murky promise. “We’re working to shore up our tech for the new bar that has been set by demand for the Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour. Once we get through that, if there are any next steps, updates will be shared accordingly.”

Swift was outraged by the whole experience. “I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could,” Swift wrote on Instagram. “It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.”

Sen. Klobuchar sent a letter addressed to Ticketmaster parent corporation Live Nation and CEO Michael Rapino. In it, she saber-rattled antitrust concerns over what she called a lack of competition in the live music industry, a charge that’s frequently been applied to Ticketmaster, which is typically the only method of getting tickets to an event except for showing up in-person at a box office.

“Ticketmaster is the story of a monopoly gone wild. They are a vertically integrated giant with Live Nation that can drive up prices and offer subpar service. That’s why we will be holding a bipartisan hearing in the Senate on these issues so we can push for solutions.”

The company fought back against the notion that everyone could be accommodated for a popular event.

“Even when a high demand onsale goes flawlessly from a tech perspective, many fans are left empty-handed,” Ticketmaster said in its statement. “For example: based on the volume of traffic to our site, Taylor would need to perform over 900 stadium shows (almost 20x the number of shows she is doing)…that’s a stadium show every single night for the next 2.5 years. While it’s impossible for everyone to get tickets to these shows, we know we can do more to improve the experience and that’s what we’re focused on.”

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