Concert giant Live Nation is facing scrutiny at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the state of competition in the ticket industry, as its subsidiary Ticketmaster has since come under fire. Loser Taylor Swift’s latest tour tickets sold out.
The panel is focused on whether Ticketmaster had such a dominant market position that it didn’t feel the need to spend money on the kind of technological innovations that might have handled the surge in demand for Swift tickets, an assertion the company denies. The November sale had widespread problems and angered millions of fans.
Strict scrutiny, including from Washington, is nothing new for Ticketmaster, which in 2010 merged with Live Nation, the world’s largest concert company, to form an unparalleled behemoth in the multi-billion dollar live music business. The company has held more than 40,000 events around the world and sold 485 million tickets in 2019, the last year that was not affected by the pandemic, its data revealed. It owns or otherwise controls over 300 venues and puts on major festivals like Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and Governors Ball.
The hearing, titled “Here’s the Ticket: Strengthening Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment,” was called by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, who has been critical of Live Nation in the past. Last year, much earlier Selling Mrs Swift tickets – and also before other Ticketmaster related issues such as the Bad Bunny concert in Mexico City Where fan tickets were refused — Ms. Klobuchar, along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., urge Department of Justice to investigate anti-competitive conduct by Live Nation and Ticketmaster. They also complained about issues such as high fees.
Live Nation operated under an agreement called the Consent Decree, which was required by the Department of Justice to approve a merger of companies. In 2020, section extend it five years ago, and is said to be investigating the company again for violations of that agreement, which sets out rules for how Live Nation and Ticketmaster should conduct themselves in the marketplace.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Illinois, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said at the top of the hearing that the consent decree “doesn’t appear to have been effective.”
Among the witnesses at today’s hearing are a high-ranking Live Nation executive along with some of its ticket and concert promotion competitors; Experts in antitrust and market competition; And a performance artist:
Joe Berchtold, President and Chief Financial Officer, Live Nation Entertainment
Jack Grotzinger, CEO, SeatGeek
Jerry Mickelson, CEO, Jam Productions
Kathleen Bradish, vice president of legal advocacy, American Antitrust Institute
Sal Nuzzo, Senior Vice President, James Madison Institute
Clyde Lawrence, performer, Lawrence