“It’s me. Hi. I’m the problem, it’s me.” That lyric is sung by Taylor Swift in her recent self-reflective hit “Anti-Hero.” However, some of Swift’s fans may think the problem is not the artist herself but the company in charge of her concert tickets.
Since the release of her new album, “Midnights,” and the announcement of her latest tour, demand has surged for tickets to Swift’s concerts. Ticketmaster, the company through which tickets are sold, has reported “historically unprecedented” interest from fans across the country. However, this hasn’t been good news for the leading ticket venue.
The company merged with global entertainment platform Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE:LYV) in 2010. But when Ticketmaster’s site crashed earlier this week and many fans were unable to get tickets, it drew the ire not just of fans, but of Capitol Hill. Multiple politicians have voiced concern regarding the monopoly the company holds over the entertainment ticketing industry.
Taylor Swift Tour May Mean Trouble for Ticketmaster
If you’ve attended a popular artist concert in the U.S. recently, you probably purchased tickets through Ticketmaster. The powerhouse has a hold over the entertainment industry that sometimes goes unnoticed. When Taylor Swift announced the Eras tour, the company essentially held her dedicated fan base at its mercy. As InvestorPlace Financial News Writer Brenden Rearick reports:
“Live Nation has been accused many times over the years of anti-competitive practices. The company has allegedly shut out venues from its operations for not selling tickets through Ticketmaster. With Live Nation controlling well over 80% of the total ticket market, it has the means to continue consolidating power and acquiring competitors.”
When people think of corporate monopolies, they don’t often think of the live entertainment industry. But since the demand for Swift tickets has made headline news, politicians who have championed the antitrust battle have turned their focus from Big Tech and Big Oil to live music venues.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who has written a book on antitrust, penned a letter to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino expressing concern for “the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its harmful impact on consumers.” Klobuchar also posed numerous questions to Rapino regarding his company’s compliance with numerous antitrust decrees since the 2010 merger.
Other politicians have taken up the banner and are calling for Live Nation and Ticketmaster to be broken up. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), who stands as chairman of the House committee on competition and antitrust, tweeted the following:
It’s no secret that Live Nation-Ticketmaster is an unchecked monopoly.
— Congressman David N. Cicilline (@RepCicilline) November 15, 2022
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), a noted crusader against corporate power and monopolies also weighed in:
Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, it’s merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in.
Break them up.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 15, 2022
Ticketmaster issued a statement this morning to address the problems it has posed for Taylor Swift fans. “While it’s impossible for everyone to get tickets to these shows, we know we can do more to improve the experience and that’s what we’re focused on,” the company stated.
What Comes Next
The demand for Taylor Swift tickets isn’t likely to slow down as the artist continues her tour. How Ticketmaster will handle it remains to be seen. But one thing is clear: making fans wait for hours on end to purchase tickets at enormous prices isn’t a good business model. Combined with the growing pressure from Capitol Hill to break up the company’s monopoly, it is likely that Ticketmaster will have to prioritize streamlining efficiency. Even if they do, politicians may still seize the opportunity to level the playing field for consumers.