Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), chair of the Senate antitrust subcommittee, sent a letter to Ticketmaster on Thursday amid concerns that outages at its site for Taylor Swift concerts reflect a lack of competition in the business.
in a letter To Live Nation Entertainment CEO Michael Rapino, Klobuchar wrote that he had “serious concerns about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its damaging impact on consumers. Reports of system failures, fee increases, and conduct complaints that violate the consent decree that Ticketmaster is under suggest that Ticketmaster continues to abuse its market positions.”
Klobuchar has been a critic of the concert ticket market, arguing that Ticketmaster’s “power in the primary ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that normally push companies to innovate and improve their services. That can result in the kinds of dramatic service failures we saw this week, where consumers pay the price.”
A Ticketmaster spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
but the company issued a general response to the situationexplaining that the demand for tickets when they went on sale earlier this week, coupled with bot attacks, “drove unprecedented traffic to our site, resulting in 3.5 billion total system requests, 4 times our peak previous”.
“It typically takes us about an hour to sell through a stadium show, but we slowed some sales and delayed others to stabilize systems,” the company said. “The tradeoff was longer wait times in line for some fans.” They estimated that about 15% of interactions on the site experienced issues, and “that’s 15% too many, including access code validation errors that caused fans to lose tickets they had purchased.”
Ticketmaster said more than 2 million tickets were sold Tuesday, the most ever sold by one artist in a single day.
“The biggest venues and artists turn to us because we have the world’s leading ticketing technology; that doesn’t mean it’s perfect, and clearly for Taylor’s for sale it wasn’t.” the company said. “But we are always working to improve the ticketing experience. Especially due to the high demand for sales, which continue to test new limits”.
Live Nation is under a consent decree from its 2010 merger with Ticketmaster, implemented as part of a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice.
The consent decree was extended in 2019 for an additional 5 1/2 years after the Justice Department concluded that Live Nation violated restrictions placed on its merger, which combined ticketing, promotion, concert and management businesses. Among other things, the terms prohibit Live Nation from threatening to withhold concerts from a venue if it chooses another ticketing company to handle sales.
Other legislators have also jumped on the subject. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) wrote on Twitter this week that the system overload was a “daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, their merger with LiveNation should never have been approved and they need to be reined in. up.”
But Greg Maffei, CEO of Liberty Media, Live Nation’s largest shareholder, told CNBC on Thursday that overload was “a function of Taylor Swift. The site was supposed to open to 1.5 million verified Taylor Swift fans. We had 14 million people on the site, including bots, who aren’t supposed to be there.”
He added: “Although AOC may not like every element of our business, interestingly enough, AEG, our competitor, who is the promoter of Taylor Swift, chose to use us because we are actually the largest and most efficient ticket seller. of the world. world.”