The United States Senate’s Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights will hold hearings on Ticketmaster’s level of control of the ticketing industry, the panel’s chairwoman and ranking member announced last week.
In a joint statement, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT) said concerns about “the lack of competition” in ticketing were put in sharp focus in the wake of the onsale for Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour,” during which fans faced interminable queues and crashing servers. The shambolic sale forced Ticketmaster to delay a planned Capital One cardholders sale and cancel the broader public onsale.
“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,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “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.”
The announcement comes in the week of a report from The New York Times that the Department of Justice was investigating whether Live Nation is in violation of the consent decree the company entered when it merged with Ticketmaster in 2010.
The planned hearings represent a rare moment of bipartisanship in Congress, underscoring the level of irritation against the ticketing giant, which cuts across socioeconomic and political lines in a way few other issues do.
In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered, Klobuchar gave credit to angry Swifties for prodding Congress into action.
“Well, a whole bunch of Swift fans is, you know, something that no one’s ever dealt with in Congress, so I’m hoping that’s going to help us. A lot of times, what happens in Congress is you kind of have to reach a moment where things go real bad. And then people suddenly say, uh-oh, you know, I guess I’ve been just keeping my head down because these are good companies, and I know people that work there, or some of these people do fundraisers for them. And then suddenly they’re like, you know what? The public is too mad about this,” she said.
Witnesses and dates for the Senate hearings will be announced later.