LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Millions of Taylor Swift fans are holding onto their bad blood with Ticketmaster, which has landed the distributor giant in front of US senators.
Tuesday, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and other speakers criticized the company for the botched pre-sale of Taylor Swift’s ‘Eras Tour’ in November 2022, along with other shortcomings that include anti-competitive practice and high ticket fees.
Speakers and senators said Ticketmaster’s market dominance has significantly grown since the
2010 merger with Live Nation. Critics want that dominance broken up, and said fans
metaphorically and physically pay the price for it.
“Today, we know with certainty that this merger is vertical integration on steroids,” Jerry
Mickelson, Jam Productions LLC CEO and President said to the committee Tuesday morning.
In the entertainment capital of the world, industry officials believe there is more of a stake in
this specific market.
Ken Solky said he testified in front of the Department of Justice against the merger in
2010 as president of the National Association of Ticket Brokers at the time. Now as the owner of
LasVegasTickets.com, he said his foresight has become reality.
“There was precedent for this because most people don’t realize that they did the same
exact thing for BTS,” Solky said in the company’s headquarters Tuesday morning, pointing to
similarities in presale chaos between the K-Pop band and Swift. “Producers and promoters seem pretty much handcuffed into, ‘if we’re going to use the market
dominant player, they’re going to establish the fees and we’re going to have to put up with
it, and our guests, our fans, have to put up with it.'”
He specifically referred to ticketing fees tacked on top of the base price of any ticket
purchased through Ticketmaster.
Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, Amy Klobuchar, referred to a study during Tuesday’s hearing
that found those fees to be as high as 75% face value in certain instances.
Solky estimates up to 70% of Las Vegas venues are on contract with Ticketmaster,
making the distributor their primary seller for years with little control over what the
consumer pays for.
This matches data in a consumer lawsuit that states Ticketmaster controls
roughly 70% of the concert ticketing and live events market nationwide.
“They’re capitalizing because Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world,” Solky
said. “Across the country, when you multiply it times all the entertainment cities and all
the venues, the dominance is glaring.”
The Nevada Attorney General’s office said in November it would investigate the Taylor Swift
presale fiasco. 8 News Now was declined an interview Tuesday as a representative said they
could not comment on ongoing investigations, though they did not provide any proof that
an investigation was in the works.
The CFO of Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, said a cyberattack on its website was the
reason for that fiasco and denies any anti-competitive practices. He also adds that venues and artists determine ticketing fees, though other speakers at the hearing denied that is the case.
“It’s broken. The system is broken,” Solky said. “It’s not fair at all.”
Tuesday’s full hearing can be viewed here.