Today, the US Senate held a judiciary hearing for Live Nation Entertainment’s mishandling of ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s “The Eras” Tour. The ticketing conglomerate owns Ticketmaster, and has been accused by lawmakers of becoming a monopoly.
Joe Berchtold, a top Live Nation executive, was questioned about the issue. Berchtold did acknowledge the fan verified presale debacle that affected Swift’s ticket sales. Millions of fans who were approved within the system and received presale codes were locked out of purchasing tickets. As a result of the sold out presale, the general public sale of tickets was cancelled. Naturally, this outraged Swift’s massive global fanbase.
Ticketmaster and Live Nation merged in 2010, and their terms of agreement surrounding the merger with the Judiciary Committee is set to expire in 2025. Some lawmakers argued that the two companies should split in 2025.
The Taylor Swift example is only one of many tour issues with Ticketmaster in recent years. Clyde Lawrence of New York City based funk pop duo Lawrence was a witness at the hearing. While his band performs at smaller venues compared to Taylor Swift, he spoke of absurd backstage costs and ticket surcharges that the band never sees.
Artist explains the Ticketmaster monopoly pic.twitter.com/mWLerLzm2m
— Brennan Murphy (@brenonade) January 24, 2023
Taylor Swift fans everywhere had a lot to say about the hearing. Some lawmakers even quoted Swift’s lyrics in the hearing, which has now humorously circulated on TikTok. The lawmakers who quoted Swift credited their Gen Z children for inspiration.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 24, 2023
Senator Mike Lee of Utah mentioned his daughter Eliza’s love of Taylor Swift when he quoted her song “Karma” from her latest album, Midnights.
Twitter couldn’t get over the casual use of Taylor Swift lyrics in a court of law.
The Ticketmaster hearing is absolutely wild. I can't believe I just heard a US Senator say "karma's a relaxing thought, aren't you envious that for you it's not" in a tone of voice that makes it so clear he has not listened to this song even once
— Maayan 🍅 (@AgentMaayan) January 24, 2023
In a surprising turn of events, country singer Garth Brooks penned a letter to Congress defending the ticketing conglomerate.
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar said that she hopes this case will be a landmark for drawing national attention to anti-trust legislation.
Fans have a lot of power when it comes to holding companies like Ticketmaster accountable. That's what today's hearing is about: pic.twitter.com/FqBZDEmYPV
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) January 24, 2023
Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing system also notoriously drives up ticket prices to often absurdly high amounts. Senator Klobuchar stated that the anti-trust legislation she mentioned could curb this issue as well.
Ahead of Tuesday's hearing against Live Nation-Ticketmaster, Sen. Amy Klobuchar told CBS News' @NikolenDC that fans should not have to save up money for "the entire year" to see their favorite artists. https://t.co/AJYru1tXvu pic.twitter.com/UF6QW0iR9L
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 24, 2023
Swifties reacted with humor to the situation. Many were surprised that it took this long to bring attention to the Live Nation problem, as it has been affecting indie artists for years.
that one US senator after saying “maybe ticketmaster should look in the mirror and say ‘I’m the problem, it’s me.’” pic.twitter.com/LiWUHEqCKV
— mirrorball (@penthouseheart) January 24, 2023
senators writing their taylor swift puns for the ticketmaster hearing: pic.twitter.com/S0rYNs49ea
— Jesse Thee Slade 🥂 (@Jesse_bslade) January 24, 2023
Onlookers tuned in for a busy day in pop culture, as the hearing began shortly after this year’s Oscars nominations were announced.
Anti-trust legislation was a bipartisan issue at this hearing. Even Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn, who Swift herself criticized for her conservative beliefs, stood up to Live Nation during the hearing.
The next steps after the hearing fall in the hands of the Justice Department. It is up to them to decide if Ticketmaster is legally considered a monopoly. Because of the nearly unanimous agreement of the senate regarding its potential anti-trust violations, it is likely that this will be the case. Ticketmaster “Would’ve Could’ve Should’ve” done more about bots and dynamic pricing, since it now looks likely that they may lose “The Great War” against the US government.