Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) published a critical letter she sent this week to Live Nation Entertainment CEO in the wake of the disastrous Taylor Swift ticket sales process. Sen. Klobuchar is the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights and has been openly critical of Ticketmaster and Live Nation in the past, related to her sharing the concerns of many that the entertainment giant is harming consumers due to the lack of competition in the industry.
What is going on with Ticketmaster is an example of why we need strong antitrust enforcement! Monopolies wreak havoc on consumers and our economy. When there is no competition to incentivize better services and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences.
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) November 16, 2022
“I write to express serious concerns about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its harmful impact on consumers. Reports about system failures, increasing fees, and complaints of conduct that violate the consent decree Ticketmaster is under suggest that Ticketmaster continues to abuse its market positions,” Klobuchar wrote to Ticketmaster President and CEO Michael Rapino.
“Ticketmaster’s power in the primary ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically push companies to innovate and improve their services. That can result in the types of dramatic service failures we saw this week, where consumers are the ones that pay the price,” Klobuchar continued.
Sen. Klobuchar is one of many political figures who have spoken critically of the entertainment giant this week as the presale for Taylor Swift’s Era’s Tour has ground on, with widespread condemnation and complaints over pricing, glitches, and other issues. Many have openly called for action to be taken against the company, including a reversal of the 2010 merger that brought Ticketmaster and Live Nation together, which was approved by the Department of Justice during the administration of President Barack Obama.
The Minnesota Senator has been openly critical of Ticketmaster and Live Nation several times already in recent years. In August 2019, she and Sen. Richard Blumenthal called on the DOJ’s Antitrust Division to investigate the competition landscape in ticketing – it did, and found significant violations of a consent decree the company had agreed to as part of its merger approval, but only received what many believe to be a slap on the wrist in response. She also urged the Department of Justice to take action against Live Nation’s dominance of the venue space, which many argue is choking out competition from smaller operators.
Sen. Klobuchar also spoke earlier this year at a Washington D.C. event featuring a panel of experts examining the competition landscape in ticketing, hosted by the American Antitrust Institute.
The full text of Sen. Klobuchar’s letter to Michael Rapino is included below:
Dear Mr. Rapino:
I write to express serious concerns about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its harmful impact on consumers. Reports about system failures, increasing fees, and complaints of conduct that violate the consent decree Ticketmaster is under suggest that Ticketmaster continues to abuse its market positions.
Ticketmaster and LiveNation dominate the live entertainment supply chain with powerful positions in primary ticketing, secondary ticketing, concert promotion, artist management, tour sponsorships, and event venue operation. Ticketmaster’s power in the primary ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically push companies to innovate and improve their services. That can result in dramatic service failures, where consumers are the ones that pay the price.
I have been skeptical of the combination of these companies since you merged in 2011, when the Senate held a hearing into the merger. At that hearing, you appeared as a witness and pledged to “develop an easy-access, one-stop platform that can deliver … tickets.” And you said that you were “confident this plan will work.” It appears that your confidence was misplaced.
When Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation in 2010, it was subject to an antitrust consent decree that prohibited it from abusing its market position. Nonetheless, there have been numerous complaints about your company’s compliance with that decree. I am concerned about a pattern of non-compliance with your legal obligations.
I look forward to your response to these questions, which I would appreciate receiving by November 23, 2022.
- Are you still “confident” that your plan to develop an “easy-access, one-stop platform” that will be a “trusted business partner” is working?
- Typically, what percentage of high profile tour tickets are available to the general public compared to those allocated to pre-sales, radio stations, VIPs, and other restricted sales opportunities? Please provide specific recent examples.
- Ticketmaster has been repeatedly accused of violating the requirements of its consent decree with the Department of Justice. Is Ticketmaster aware of any complaints that have been made to it or to government agencies about potential noncompliance with the consent decree in the last twelve months? If so, please provide details about each alleged incident.
- In the last twelve months, how much have you invested in upgrading your systems to address demand surges, and specifically, what improvements did those investments generate?
- In the last three years, has the Ticketmaster Board of Directors received information about decree compliance? If so, please provide copies of any materials provided to any Board member on this topic.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Last Updated on November 17, 2022 by Dave Clark