Updated Nov 35, 2016 4:35pm with new info – apeers
Taylor Swift fans expressed outrage over the collapse of Ticketmaster’s service on Tuesday, underscoring a common and repeated criticism of the ticketing company: It has few competitors. For many buyers, Ticketmaster cannot be avoided if you want to attend an event.
Tuesday’s debacle led lawmakers to call for a breakup of Live Nation, the country’s largest concert promoter and parent of Ticketmaster, which they say has a stranglehold on ticket sales for top events.
“@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, ” tweets Rep. David Cicilline, R-Chairman of the Antitrust Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.
“Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly and its merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, they need to be reined in,” tweets U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Even some opponents of calls for antitrust action against Big Tech took a shot at Ticketmaster on Wednesday. NetChoice, a trade group backed by some tech giants including Amazon (AMZN ), Google (GOOG ) and Facebook holding company Meta (FB ), said those calling for the breakup of big tech companies should focus on breaking up Live Nation and Ticketmaster.
“Congress and the FTC are wasting their time and taxpayer dollars trying to fundamentally change antitrust law and bring baseless lawsuits against companies like Meta that operate in a competitive environment. Instead, the government Existing resources and laws should be used to protect consumers and investigate Ticketmaster’s anti-competitive behavior in the concert market,” the group said.
Ticketmaster did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But complaints about the company’s monopoly power go back a long, long way, before Tuesday’s ticket troubles, when the platform appeared to crash or freeze during presales for Swift’s latest tour.
In 1994, when Taylor Swift was just four years old, ticket queues were 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 had an “almost absolute monopoly” on music Distribution of tickets will be held. ” 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.
According to recent comments to NPR by Joe Berchtold, CFO of Live Nation Entertainment (LYV), Ticketmaster disputes the market share estimate and estimates it is at best just over 30% of the concert market.
But market share numbers don’t matter for thousands of shows Ticketmaster is contracted to handle initial ticket sales for sporting events, whether A Taylor Swift concert at an NFL stadium or a little-known band playing in an intimate club.
Fans who want to attend these events have little choice but to pay the hefty fees that Ticketmaster attaches to the price of their tickets.
Past efforts to rein in Ticketmaster’s grip on the ticketing market have failed. Pearl Jam dropped the effort in 1995. The Justice Department and states approved the Live Nation-Ticketmaster combination, but did require some oversight. Now, things might not end there.