Live Nation Accosted Over Taylor Swift Ticketing Fiasco In U.S. Senate Hearing

A U.S. Senate hearing on competition in the ticketing industry began on Tuesday, highlighted by Live Nation Entertainment’s president apologizing to pop star Taylor Swift and her fans for the debacle involving ticket sales for her concert tour.

Live NationPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

Ticketmaster, which has drawn harsh criticism from fans for years, faces intense backlash from U.S. lawmakers over how it handled ticket sales for Swift’s “Eras” tour, the global star’s first in five years.

“We apologize to the fans, we apologize to Ms. Swift, we need to do better and we will do better,” Joe Berchtold, who is president and chief financial officer of Ticketmaster parent Live Nation, told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

“In hindsight there are several things we could have done better – including staggering the sales over a longer period of time and doing a better job setting fan expectations for getting tickets,” Berchtold said.

In an opening statement, Republican Senator Mike Lee noted that the debacle shed light on the necessity of considering “new legislation or perhaps just better enforcement of existing laws might be needed to protect the American people.”

Cofounder of ticket sales platform SeatGeek, Jack Groetzinger, testified that the process of buying tickets is “antiquated and ripe for innovation” and called for the disbandment of Live Nation and Ticketmaster, which merged in 2010.

“As long as Live Nation remains both the dominant concert promoter and ticketer of major venues in the U.S., the industry will continue to lack competition and struggle,” he explained to lawmakers.

Ticketmaster has insisted that the Taylor Swift incident was a result of the use of online bots, and Berchtold is expected to ask for additional assistance in fighting bots that buy tickets for resale, often for astronomical prices.

Ticketmaster had planned a ticket sale to the general public for Swift’s tour, but canceled in November after more than 3.5 billion requests crashed its website.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, head of the Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, has said the issues discovered in November were not new and potentially emanated from consolidation across the industry as a whole.

In November, the company noted its consent decree with the Justice Department following the 2010 merger with Live Nation, denying any anticompetitive practices and adding that there was no “evidence of systemic violations of the consent decree.”

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