VIDEOS: US senators quote lyrics of All Too Well, Blank Space and Anti Hero during Taylor Swift and Ticketmaster hearing today KossyDerrickBlog KossyDerrickEnt


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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

VIDEOS: US senators quote lyrics of All Too Well, Blank Space and Anti Hero during Taylor Swift and Ticketmaster hearing today

Information reaching Kossyderrickent has it that US senators quote lyrics of All Too Well, Blank Space and Anti Hero during Taylor Swift and Ticketmaster hearing today.

“The fact of the matter is, Live Nation/Ticketmaster is the 800-pound gorilla here,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. “This whole concert ticket system is a mess, a monopolistic mess.”

Ticketmaster is the world’s largest ticket seller, processing 500 million tickets each year in more than 30 countries. Around 70% of tickets for major concert venues in the U.S. are sold through Ticketmaster, according to data in a federal lawsuit filed by consumers last year.

Senators grilled Ticketmaster Tuesday, questioning whether the company’s dominance in the ticketing industry led to its spectacular breakdown last year during a sale of Taylor Swift concert tickets.

Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee also debated possible action, including making tickets non-transferable to cut down on scalping and requiring more transparency in ticket fees. Some suggested it may also be necessary to split Ticketmaster and Beverly Hills, California-based concert promoter Live Nation, which merged in 2010.

Live Nation’s President and Chief Financial Officer Joe Berchtold apologized to fans and to Swift on Tuesday, and said the company knows it must do better. Berchtold said Ticketmaster has spent $1 billion over the last decade trying to improve its security and stop bots.

“We need to do better and will do better,” he said.

But lawmakers were skeptical. Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said plenty of others, including banks and power companies, are also frequent targets of bots but don’t suffer service meltdowns.

“They have figured it out but you guys haven’t? This is unbelievable,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of people who are very unhappy with the way this has been approached.”

But competitors, like Seat Geek CEO Jack Groetzinger, said even if Live Nation doesn’t own a venue, it prevents competition by signing multi-year contracts with arenas and concert halls to provide ticketing services. If those venues don’t agree to use Ticketmaster, Live Nation may withhold acts. That makes it tough for competitors to disrupt the market.

“The only way to restore competition is to break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation,” Groetzinger said.

Senators also took aim at Ticketmaster’s fees. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, recalled piling into a friend’s car in high school to go to concerts by Led Zeppelin, The Cars and Aerosmith. These days, she said, ticket prices have gotten so high that shows are too expensive for many fans. Klobuchar said ticket fees now average 27% of the ticket cost and can climb as high as 75%.

Berchtold insisted that Ticketmaster doesn’t set prices or service fees for tickets or decide how many tickets will go on sale. Service fees are set by venues, he said. Live Nation only owns around 5% of U.S. venues, he said.

Clyde Lawrence, a singer-songwriter with the New York-based pop group Lawrence, said it also hurts artists when Live Nation owns or has contracts with venues, because bands have little ability to negotiate a deal or choose a different ticket seller.

Lawrence shared a hypothetical example: Ticketmaster charges $30 per ticket, but then adds fees that bump the price to $42. Just $12 per ticket goes to the band after accounting for fees they must pay to Live Nation, including — in at least one case — $250 for a stack of 10 towels in the dressing room.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Live Nation president and CFO Joe Berchtold throughout the hearing on Tuesday, arguing that the company’s control over the concert and events industry has harmed consumers. In her opening statement, antitrust committee chair Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) called Live Nation’s business model the “definition of monopoly.” “As millions of Taylor Swift fans found out last fall, there are few consequences for failing to deliver the service,” Klobuchar said Tuesday. “But whether it’s Bruce Springsteen, or BTS, or Bad Bunny, or in the past Pearl Jam or the Pixies, fans, artists, and venues are facing real issues with Live Nation.”

Live Nation and Ticketmaster have long been the focus of congressional criticism, regularly receiving threats of investigation and regulation from lawmakers when their services fail to meet fan expectations. But that scrutiny hit a fever pitch last November when Live Nation was forced to cancel ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s upcoming The Eras Tour. 

At the time, the company said the cancellation was “due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand.” However, Berchtold said Tuesday that sales were halted because of an unforeseen bot attack. Live Nation’s bot explanation didn’t stop senators from attacking its market dominance, especially its 2010 merger with Ticketmaster. In a January 2022 antitrust lawsuit, aggrieved customers argued that the company holds more than 70 percent market share amongst major ticketing services. With that dominance, senators argued that Live Nation can drive up ticketing costs and fees for consumers and venues through anti-competitive contracts. 

Fan disgust over Live Nation’s practices was on full display Tuesday as Swifties, a nickname for Swift fans, protested the company outside the Capitol, according to NPR.

It’s unclear whether the Senate plans to roll out new legislation to address Live Nation’s growth, but the Justice Department has reportedly opened its own investigation into the company. The investigation is reportedly focused on whether Live Nation has abused its market power over the music industry, according to The New York Times last November. If the Justice Department deems that it has, officials could go as far as suing to unwind the company’s merger with Ticketmaster. 

“Whether it’s for fans, promoters, or venue operators, we need to make sure we have competition to bring prices down and bring innovation in and stop the fiascos,” Klobuchar said Tuesday. 

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