California lawmakers are looking to reform the ticket-buying experience for consumers in the most populous state, but Live Nation Entertainment and Ticketmaster, which are headquartered there, are fighting back. Whether or not any meaningful reform can be brought to bear in the Golden State may hinge on lawmakers overcoming a lot of opposition from the well-monied and entrenched companies that call it home.

As in many states, the legislature has been considering several bills this session in the wake of the catastrophic Eras Tour sale for Taylor Swift, which has a huge run at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood to close out its North American run in one month. But according to the Los Angeles Times, stiff pushback from Ticketmaster has already prompted lawmakers to water down legislation aimed at loosening what critics see as its monopoly grip on ticket sales. Ticketmaster is lobbying for its own solution, a bill predictably blaming all of consumer ills in ticketing on the existence of independent ticket resale companies.

“Monopolies don’t care about consumers. Monopolies care about enhancing their monopolistic control over a marketplace,” said Robert Herrell, executive director of the Consumer Federation of California, who is concerned about Ticketmaster’s power. “And in the ticketing industry, we have a monopoly.”

One bill proposed to limit that alleged monopoly, Assembly Bill 8, would have brought “all-in” ticket pricing as a legal requirement, as well as restricting the use of mobile-only ticketing technology to eliminate consumer choice in ticket resale.

“Unfortunately, Ticketmaster and others have a huge lobbying arm … so the bill did get pared down,” says Assemblymember Laura Friedman, who authored the bill and struck the parts of the bill that prevented venues and rights-holders from making tickets non-transferable. Now, the bill only would mandate all-in pricing, which she feels is still an important consumer-friendly remedy despite vague promises from Ticketmaster and others to allow consumers to choose to see prices including fees.

“This is something that needs to be in regulation. It’s at the very least sleazy. At the worst, you could call it a rip-off. I’ve heard that from consumers,” Friedman said. “I’m glad that industry’s seeing the regulatory future and coming to the table themselves voluntarily, but I’m not under any illusion that they would have necessarily done that if states weren’t acting to regulate them.”

That bill has been passed in the Assembly and is now under consideration by the Senate. That is the opposite of another ticket reform bill, co-authored by Friedman and Sen. Scott Wilk that would bar exclusive ticket contracts between companies like Ticketmaster and venues in the state, which has passed the Senate unanimously but is awaiting action in the Assembly.

Wilk expressed his concern that the closed-door lobbying might of Ticketmaster and Live Nation will seal its fate, as they rely on their ability to lock in venues with long-term deals to supercharge their market power. “It’s gonna be all-out war now that it’s over in the Assembly,” Wilk said.

Instead, Live Nation and AXS are both throwing their support behind Senate Bill 785, which has all-in pricing requirements, but also brings regulations specifc to ticket resale that many feel continues to concentrate market power with the giants that already wield too much of it, mirroring criticism of Live Nation’s federal push for the “FAIR” ticketing act, and the nearly identical “FIX THE TIX” legislation backed by NIVA and former Ticketmaster boss Irving Azoff.


“The reason this trope about Ticketmaster monopoly comes up all the time is to distract attention away from the issue of how are the scalpers getting tickets for these resale markets. They come at the expense of fans,” Dan Wall, executive vice president for corporate and regulatory affairs at Live Nation Entertainment, said in an interview.

Wall, a leading antitrust lawyer, was brought in-house at Live Nation to lead its lobbying efforts earlier this year as pressure mounted amid the increased scrutiny driven by the Swift debacle, and has served as its go-to advocate for policies that would ignore its outsized market power in favor of regulating its competition.

Last Updated on June 30, 2023