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Ticketmaster Live Updates: Panel Holds Hearing After Taylor Swift Debacle

Ben Sisario

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday about the state of competition the ticketing industry, where Ticketmaster is the dominant force but has come under scrutiny since it botched the sale of tickets to Taylor Swift’s latest tour.

The panel is likely to focus on whether Ticketmaster has such a dominant position in the market that it did not feel the need to spend money on the sort of technological innovations that might have handled the surge of demand for Swift tickets, an assertion the company denies. The sale, in November, had widespread issues and left millions of fans angry.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

Tough scrutiny, including from Washington, is nothing new for Ticketmaster, which in 2010 merged with Live Nation, the world’s largest concert company, to form a colossus with no equal in the multibillion-dollar live music business. The company put on more than 40,000 events around the world and sold 485 million tickets in 2019, the last year unaffected by the pandemic for which it has disclosed data. It owns or otherwise controls more than 300 venues and puts on major festivals like Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and Governors Ball.

The hearing, titled “That’s the Ticket: Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment,” was called by Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat of Minnesota, who has been critical of Live Nation in the past. Last year, well before Ms. Swift’s ticket sale — and also before other Ticketmaster-related problems like a Bad Bunny concert in Mexico City where fans were valid tickets were turned away — Ms. Klobuchar, along with Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, urged the Justice Department to investigate anticompetitive behavior by Live Nation and Ticketmaster, in potential violation of its longstanding consent decree. They also complained about issues like high fees.

The Justice Department, which in 2020 extended Live Nation’s consent decree by five years, is said to be investigating the company again for violations of that agreement, which sets out rules for how Live Nation and Ticketmaster can behave in the marketplace.

The witnesses at today’s hearing will include a top Live Nation executive along with some of its competitors in ticketing and concert promotion; experts on antitrust and market competition; and a performing artist:

  • Joe Berchtold, president and chief financial officer, Live Nation Entertainment

  • Jack Groetzinger, chief executive officer, SeatGeek

  • Jerry Mickelson, chief executive officer, Jam Productions

  • Kathleen Bradish, vice president for legal advocacy, American Antitrust Institute

  • Sal Nuzzo, senior vice president, the James Madison Institute

  • Clyde Lawrence, performer, Lawrence

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