Ticket sales distributor giant Ticketmaster is under fire after a disastrous presale for Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour.” On Tuesday, November 15, the website had a near meltdown after 2 million tickets were sold for the singer’s tour, marking a record amount of tickets ever sold for any artist in a single day.
Due to a massive demand for tickets, the website’s “Verified Fans” system which helps to prevent bots couldn’t keep up, and eventually the system broke. On November 17, Ticketmaster released a statement stating that their public sale for tickets was canceled, sparking outrage with fans, and even with Swift herself. “It’s really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties, and excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse,” the pop star said.
Unfortunately, this allows other third parties sites to jack up ticket prices due to supply and demand, which leaves fans at a 2% chance to get tickets for face value.
Now, Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation Entertainment is under the microscope with the U.S. Department of Justice for breaking an antitrust law. “This is a slam dunk antitrust case under existing antitrust law,” comments Carl Szabo, professor of internet law at George Mason University’s Scalia Law School and vice president of NetChoice.
In 2010, Ticketmaster and Live Nation merged together as approved by the DoJ, with the contingency that the company cannot threaten venues with losing access to its tours if those venues decided to not use Ticketmaster as a ticket provider. However, the company has already broken its decree according to an investigation in late 2019. Going forward, the DoJ wants to look and see if Live Nation has been abusing its power and turning into a monopoly.
“If the investigation reveals that Live Nation has continued to abuse its dominant market position notwithstanding two prior consent decrees, we urge the department to consider unwinding the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger and breaking up the company,” said senators Richard Blumenthal, Amy Klobauchar, and Edward Markey.
“Ticketmaster is more than 80% of the primary ticket market sales, so eight out of every 10 tickets sold today goes through Ticketmaster,” Szabo explained. “With their control of venues and artists simultaneously, that has created what is called a vertical monopoly where they control the entire infrastructure soup to nuts.” Szabo also believes that transparency with the number of tickets available as well as the split of Ticketmaster and Live Nation would be beneficial for buyers later on.
“Live Nation and Ticketmaster control dozens of venues. It’s hard to artists to stand up and call them out for fear of repercussions or being blacklisted and blackballed. It’s hard for artists to stand out to the monopoly that is Ticketmaster.”
Ticketmaster has released an apology as well as explanations as to what went wrong to Swift and her fans in the days following the upheaval of outrage, “We strive to make ticket buying as easy as possible for fans, but that hasn’t been the case for many people trying to buy tickets for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour,” they wrote on their business website.
“We want to apologize to Taylor and all of her fans – especially those who had a terrible experience trying to purchase tickets.”