US Senate examines ticket industry after Swift debacle

A US Senate special committee will hold a hearing to examine the lack of competition in the ticketing industry after thousands of Taylor Swift fans were left disappointed by online vendors.

It comes after reports of significant service failures and delays on the Ticketmaster website that left fans unable to purchase tickets for the pop star’s Era Tour last Thursday.

The company eventually canceled the general sale to buy tickets for the US leg of Swift’s tour, citing “insufficient ticket inventory” to meet “extraordinarily high demands”.

General ticket sales were planned to open the next morning, Friday, following the verified fan presale, but Ticketmaster then canceled the public sale altogether.

Senator Amy Klobuchar said the incident had made the problem in ticketing markets “painfully obvious” as she and fellow Senator Mike Lee announced plans for the hearing.

The pair are Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, respectively.

“Last week, the competition problem in ticketing markets was made painfully obvious when Ticketmaster’s website failed hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to purchase concert tickets,” Ms Klobuchar said.

“The high fees, site disruptions and cancellations that customers experienced shows how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company does not face any pressure to continuously innovate and improve.

“That’s why we will hold a hearing on how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry harms customers and artists alike.

“When there is no competition to incentivise better services and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences.”

She later added on Twitter that the issue went “way beyond Taylor Swift”.

The hearing schedule and witnesses will be announced at a later date

Mr Lee added: “American consumers deserve the benefit of competition in every market, from grocery chains to concert venues.

“I look forward to exercising our Subcommittee’s oversight authority to ensure that anticompetitive mergers and exclusionary conduct are not crippling an entertainment industry already struggling to recover from pandemic lockdowns.”

The hearing schedule and witnesses will be announced at a later date.

In the aftermath of the Ticketmaster debacle, Swift expressed her anger and frustration over the hours spent by fans trying to buy tickets.

Posting a story on Instagram, she wrote: “I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could.

“It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really p***** me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.”

Of those who lost out, Swift said she hopes to “provide more opportunities for us to all get together and sing these songs”.

The singer’s 52-date Era Tour kicks off on 17 March in Glendale, Arizona, and wraps up with five shows in Los Angeles, ending on 9 August.

It is Swift’s first tour since 2018.

Source: Press Association

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