Friday, February 23, 2024

Congress seeks answers after Ticketmaster cancels Taylor Swift tickets

Ticketmaster cancelled Friday’s public ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s 2023 U.S. tour due to record demand from fans, bots, and scalpers.

Customers complained that Ticketmaster had high prices and bad service, and important people in Congress called for an antitrust investigation of the company.

The singer’s first tour in five years, “Eras,” got the entertainment business buzzing. Over 2 million tickets were sold in the “pre-sale” on Tuesday, according to Ticketmaster.

Long wait periods and site outages irritated many fans, and many couldn’t get tickets. It was unclear when remaining tickets might go on sale.

Live Nation Entertainment Inc. (LYV.N), which owns Ticketmaster, issued a statement acknowledging fans’ problems.

Ticketmaster claimed 3.5 million verified fans registered, a record. Ticketmaster planned to invite 1.5 million people to participate in the sale for all 52 show dates, including the 47 it sold. The other 2 million were placed on a waiting list.

The plan, it said, was undermined by ‘bots’ and demand from those who hadn’t registered.

“Bot assaults and fans without invite codes drove unprecedented traffic on our site,” Ticketmaster stated. Never before has a Verified Fan sale generated so much attention and noise.

Swift’s 20-city, 52-date stadium tour begins in March in Arizona and ends in August in Los Angeles.

Congress members questioned the 2010 merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster, which created a market leader.

Senator Richard Blumenthal tweeted Thursday, “I’ve long asked the DOJ to investigate ticketing competition.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez linked to a petition calling for Ticketmaster to be broken up. The Justice Department wouldn’t comment.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate antitrust panel, expressed “serious concern” about Ticketmaster’s lack of competition and its impact on consumers.

Klobuchar: “Ticketmaster’s dominance in the primary ticket market insulates it from competitive pressures” “This can lead to dramatic service failures, with consumers paying the price”

Klobuchar questioned Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino about how much the company spent upgrading technology to handle demand surges and what percentage of high-profile tour tickets were sold in advance.

Klobuchar said she was sceptical of the 2010 Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger at the time.

Ticketmaster has long frustrated artists and fans. Pearl Jam toured without Ticketmaster in the mid-1990s but found it too cumbersome and returned after 14 months.

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