During an election season where it seems like agreement is in short supply, a group of consumer advocates appears to have found one thing that unites a huge swath of American society: dislike for Ticketmaster and its parent Live Nation Entertainment. The Break Up Ticketmaster campaign, launched in late October by a coterie of consumer rights and anti-trust organizations, has seen more than 12,000 people sign on to signal their support, sending letters to the Department of Justice asking the regulator to take action against the entertainment giant that many argue operates as a monopoly.
Break Up Ticketmaster has seen a surge of support for its letter-writing campaign, particularly in the wake of news that Taylor Swift was launching a 2023 tour, while subjecting her fans to Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan sign-up system and likely their “dynamic” surge pricing systems as those dates go on sale. It quickly saw several thousand send letters to the DOJ through a form available on the campaign’s website, designed to make it easier for consumers to be heard by the leadership at the regulatory agency.
Ticketmaster: You want to go to Taylor’s Eras tour? Here’s some unnecessary barriers, an unreliable website, and pricey “processing” fees.
— American Economic Liberties Project (@econliberties) November 7, 2022
“The fact that more than 10,000 fans signed a petition calling to break up Ticketmaster is telling,” said Brian Hess, Executive Director of Sports Fans Coalition – one of the organizations behind the campaign. “Sports, concert, and theater fans are fed up with the status quo and they feel Ticketmaster’s behavior is likely anticompetitive and illegal. Lawmakers are on the fans’ side too. It’s time for the DOJ to break Ticketmaster up.”
Sports Fans Coalition is just one of six organizations making the Break Up Ticketmaster push, joined by More Perfect Union, Fight Corporate Monopolies, TakeItBack.org, Demand Progress, and the American Economic Liberties Project. The campaign made an immediate splash when it launched in late October, gaining coverage from news outlets including Bloomberg Law, The Hollywood Reporter, MusicAlly, Vice News, The Washington Times, and Paste Magazine. Even Billboard, which is typically a staunch defender of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, covered the campaign.
While the giant at the center of live entertainment has been subject to criticism about alleged anti-competitive business practices and consumer anger about ever-inflating ticket prices and other issues since the DOJ approved the merger of the two already-dominant businesses in 2010, the pressure seems to be building to a fever pitch as events get back to “normal” following the long COVID-19 pause on in-person attendance. Live Nation has reported record-shattering profits for a series of quarters, built on its overwhelming market share, acquisition of numerous competitors, and price-inflating tactics that have made attending shows a budget-breaking decision for many consumers.
Politicians have also called for action against the company, with New Jersey Democrat Bill Pascrell, Jr. pushing for the BOSS Act to regulate the industry, and himself calling on DOJ to break up the “monopoly.”
“Reforms are desperately needed, and that is why I introduced the BOSS ACT that would bring much needed transparency to the sale, pricing, and distribution of live-event tickets,” the Congressman said in a letter addressed to Live Nation Entertainment CEO Michael Rapino earlier this year. “However, your company could unilaterally enact these consumer-friendly reforms at any time, and because your company controls an overwhelming portion of both the primary and secondary ticketing markets, these reforms would likely become the industry standard overnight. Yet you choose not to act responsibly, instead prolonging the frustration and confusion of consumers.”
As it always has, Live Nation quickly dismissed the campaign when it launched, stating its belief that the entertainment business “never been more vibrant and competitive, which is evident from the many companies that continue entering the market and growing,” according to a statement given to The Hollywood Reporter. “We are proud of the many progressive policies we have innovated and advocated for – from to all-in pricing, transparent resale disclosures, refunds and more. We will continue working to improve the industry.”
Last Updated on November 7, 2022 by Dave Clark