US politicians have announced they will look into Ticketmaster’s dominance after the company endured Taylor Swift’s wrath over its handling of sales of her highly anticipated tour.
Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mike Lee said a competition subcommittee would investigate the “lack of competition in the ticketing industry.”
High fees, problems with Ticketmaster’s website and cancellations show it is “not facing any pressure to continuously innovate and improve”, Klobuchar said.
Swift said last week it was “unbearable” to see what people endured trying to get tickets to her upcoming US show – her first tour since 2018.
Fans said they waited for hours and were repeatedly kicked off the website on Thursday, with Ticketmaster canceling Friday’s sale due to “extraordinarily high demand” and “insufficient” tickets.
These problems came a few days after the site had crashed again under heavy demand during a pre-sale.
Ticketmaster said more than 3.5 million people had registered for the general sale and that it had planned to let 1.5 million participate, with the rest on a waiting list.
However, it said “bots” – automated requests – and demand from those who had not previously registered had inundated the site with 3.5 billion system requests – four times the previous peak.
“I’m not going to make excuses for anybody because we asked them, several times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured that they could,” Fast said on Instagram.
She said she was “p***** off” and was looking at how things could be improved.
Ticketmaster, which dominates the US ticketing industry, has for years left fans and artists frustrated by hidden fees, sky-high costs and limited ticket availability due to advance sales.
Klobuchar wrote to the firm’s chief executive last week suggesting that Ticketmaster and sister company LiveNation – which promotes events and operates arenas – were abusing their position and were isolated from the competition typical of other sectors.
She and Utah Sen. Mike Lee upped the ante Tuesday by announcing plans for a special hearing.
“When there is no competition to stimulate better services and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences,” said Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Competition and Consumer Rights.
“American consumers deserve the benefit of competition in every market, from grocery chains to concert venues,” Lee added.
The hearing date and witnesses have still not been confirmed.