Taylor Swift ticket mess was caused by Ticketmaster abusing its market power, Senate antitrust chair says

New York

Senator Amy Klobuchar criticized Ticketmaster in an open letter to its CEO, saying she had “serious concerns” about the company’s operations after a service crash on Tuesday sparked anger among Taylor Swift fans.

Michael Rapino, a Minnesota Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights, wrote in a letter to the CEO that Swift fans complained about not being able to Buy tickets for her upcoming tour, plus a critique of the high prices. fees, suggesting the company “continues to abuse its market position”.

“Ticketmaster’s strength in the primary ticketing market insulates it from the competitive pressures that normally drive companies to innovate and improve their services. This could lead to the kind of dramatic service failure we saw this week, with consumers paying the price people,” Klobuchar wrote.

Ticketmaster and Live Nation, America’s largest concert promoter, merged about a decade ago. Klobuchar noted that the company promised at the time to “develop an easily accessible one-stop platform” for ticket delivery. “It appears your confidence is misplaced,” the senator told Rapinoe on Thursday.

“When Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation in 2010, it was subject to an antitrust consent decree that prohibited it from abusing its market position,” Klobuchar wrote. “Despite this, there have been many complaints about your company’s compliance with the Act.”

The letter included a list of questions that Rapinoe had until next week to answer. Ticketmaster did not immediately respond to CNN Business’ request for comment.

On Tuesday, the company said there had been “historically unprecedented demand, with millions of people showing up” to buy tickets for Swift’s tour, and thanked fans for their “patient patience.”

Klobuchar is the latest high-profile politician to publicly criticize Ticketmaster as the ticketing disaster has left animosity between Swift fans and the company.

“@Ticketmaster’s excessive wait times and fees are completely unacceptable and as seen on today’s @taylorswift13 ticket, is symptomatic of a much bigger problem. It’s no secret that Live Nation-Ticketmaster is an unfettered monopoly, “Rep. David Cicilline, now chair of the antitrust subcommittee, tweeted Tuesday.

“Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, its merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, they need to be reined in,” the Rep tweeted. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Complaints about the company’s monopoly power go back far, well before Tuesday’s ticket issue, when the platform appeared to crash or freeze during presales for Swift’s latest tour.

In 1994, Taylor Swift was only four years old And ticket queues are in person or over the phone, rather than online, and rock group Pearl Jam filed a complaint with the Justice Department’s antitrust division, claiming that Ticketmaster “has an almost absolute monopoly on the distribution of concert tickets.” It tries to book tours only at venues that don’t use Ticketmaster.

Similar complaints have been filed over the years by the Justice Department and numerous state attorneys general.

Despite these concerns, Ticketmaster’s dominance continues to grow. Pearl Jam’s complaint was quietly dismissed. The Justice Department and states allowed the Live Nation Ticketmaster merger to go through, despite a 2010 court case challenging the merger. Ticketmaster has more than an 80 percent share of major concert venues, the Justice Department said in filings.

– Chris Isidore of CNN Business contributed to this report.

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