Tuesday, Taylor Swift fans’ demands were heard as LiveNation and Ticketmaster were at the forefront of a U.S. Senate hearing. Senators grilled Ticketmaster during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on anticompetitive behavior in the ticketing industry. While being thrown tough questions, protestors stood outside the hearing demanding answers after remaining frustrations from last year’s ticket debacle that left many Taylor Swift fans without tickets.

What Happened?
The president and chief financial officer for LiveNation, Joe Berchtold, apologized during the hearing to the millions of frustrated Taylor Swift fans unable to buy tickets in November of 2022 after the general public ticket sale was canceled. The sale was canceled following days of a verified fan presale overwhelming the system resulting in thousands of fans being locked out and unable to purchase tickets. Berchtold claims “industrial scale ticket scalping” and bots were the reason for the significant problems during the Taylor Swift presale. After the failure of the presale, many fans and lawmakers called for an investigation claiming that the 2010 merger of LiveNation and Ticketmaster was a monopoly that stifled competition and hurt customers.

The Hearing
During Tuesday’s hearing, the CEO and president of JAM productions challenged Berchtold’s claims that bots were to blame for the presale fiasco. Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn asked why hasn’t a planned been developed to weed out bots better if that was the problem. Berchtold fired back, saying an overwhelming amount of bots forced the pause on the sale and that bots were an issue better suited for Congress to handle through legislation. Senators also grilled the company’s overall ticket pricing and control of the market. Senator Amy Klobuchar stated there was no transparency regarding ticket prices. Ticket competitor SeatGeek CEO Jack Groetzinger also testified, saying there is a lack of “robust competition.” He also claims venues fear losing Live Nation events if the venues choose not to use Ticketmaster for ticketing. Groetzinger stated the only way to restore the industry is to break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation. Taylor Swift did not speak during the hearing, and instead, musician Clyde Lawrence spoke, saying artists have no negotiating power due to LiveNation controlling 5o% to 60% of the market.

What’s Next
While many are pushing for the merger to be undone, it was unknown during the wrap of the hearing if this is what the final solution will be. Congress could dismantle the merger. However, this has yet to happen since the 1980s with At&t.

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