Ticketing industry testifies after Ticketmaster’s Taylor Swift concert debacle

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, during a hearing on "Big Data, Big Questions: Implications for Competition and Consumers" in Washington, in September 2021.
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, during a hearing on “Big Data, Big Questions: Implications for Competition and Consumers” in Washington, in September 2021. (Ting Shen/Pool/Reuters)

In the wake of the Taylor Swift tour ticketing chaos, Sen. Amy Klobuchar criticized Ticketmaster in an open letter to its CEO, saying she has “serious concerns” about the company’s operations.

Complaints from Swift fans unable to buy tickets for her upcoming tour, in addition to criticism about high fees, suggests that the company “continues to abuse its market positions,” the Democrat from Minnesota wrote in the letter to CEO Michael Rapino in November, shortly after the fiasco unfolded.

“Ticketmaster’s power in the primary ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically push companies to innovate and improve their services. That can result in the types of dramatic service failures we saw this week, where consumers are the ones that pay the price,” she wrote as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights.

Ticketmaster and Live Nation, the country’s largest concert promoter, merged about a decade ago. Klobuchar noted that the company at the time pledged to “develop an easy-access, one-stop platform” for ticket delivery. The senator told Rapino that it “appears that your confidence was misplaced.”

“When Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation in 2010, it was subject to an antitrust consent decree that prohibited it from abusing its market position,” Klobuchar wrote. “Nonetheless, there have been numerous complaints about your company’s compliance with that decree.”

The letter included a list of questions for Rapino to answer by the following week. Ticketmaster did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN Business.

In response to the snafu, the company had said “there has been historically unprecedented demand with millions showing up” to buy tickets for Swift’s tour and thanked fans for their “patience.”

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