In comments at a Wall Street Journal event, the Federal Trade Commission’s chair Lina Khan pulled no punches in her assessment of Live Nation and Ticketmaster in the wake of the intense public backlash following the Taylor Swift presale. Khan, who was appointed in 2021 to head the agency, said when “firms become dominant, they become too big to care,” when reflecting on the ongoing public relations nightmare being faced by the entertainment giant.

“I think that one incident ended up converting more Gen Z-ers into anti-monopolists overnight than anything I could have done,” she said on stage at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit earlier this month.

“There is a certain amount of investment in their services and their products that we don’t see because they’re not facing that type of robust competition,” she continued. “I think in as much as we’re seeing those renewed concerns in the context of this company, I think it makes a lot of sense.”

TFL and ATBS for ticketing professionals

From WSJ:

Ms. Khan is a critic of longstanding antitrust tenets that favor corporate expansion under the theory it won’t cause consumer prices to rise. She says Congress originally conceived of the antitrust laws more broadly—as a means of ensuring checks and balances in the economy. “There are somewhat stale economic theories that are embedded in the antitrust laws,” she said.

Currently, the Federal Trade Commission is not directly investigating Live Nation/Ticketmaster – the Department of Justice is. Numerous legislators have also come out with strong statements against the behemoth at the core of the live entertainment business, including plans for probes set by committees on both the House and Senate side. There has also been at least some indication that lawmakers are currently working on legislation reforming ticketing, including the requirement of better transparency on ticket availability.

In October, the FTC announced plans to issue rules regulating so-called “drip pricing” – the tactic of showing one price while a consumer is browsing a website only to see unavoidable fees added at the end of the transaction. President Joe Biden quickly added his support to ridding the U.S. consumer landscape of “junk fees” at a press conference flanked by both Khan and the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Rohit Chopra.

Vivid Seats ad with text your ticket to mindblowing over a vivid seats logo