If there’s one thing everybody knows about Taylor Swift, it’s that her fan base is dedicated. If Swift told them to reverse the Earth’s rotation, they’d probably find a way. They’re not a bunch you would want to wrong. However, Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE:LYV) has been as bold as to deprive thousands of the fans of tickets to Swift’s first tour in five years. The drama is reiterating a years-long call to break up the Live Nation and Ticketmaster merger, which has monopolized the ticket industry.
When Swift announced her 2023 Eras Tour, the collective screams of fans likely registered on seismographs. It is her first tour in five years — an especially long break for one of the top-streamed musicians of all time.
However, clouding the excitement for this tour was Ticketmaster and its highly controversial dynamic pricing model. In an attempt to discourage ticket scalping on other websites, dynamic pricing adjusts prices in accordance with supply and demand. This means that the more fans there are trying to obtain tickets, the higher these tickets’ prices surge.
The model effectively allows Ticketmaster to sell retail tickets for resale prices. Of course, the earlier one can be to the sale, the cheaper they can get their tickets. It’s unsurprising, then, that the Ticketmaster website crashed immediately upon opening its first presale event for the tour.
Resale prices have become ludicrously expensive for those unlucky enough to miss out on the presale. The cheapest tickets at most shows clock in at about $350, with some tickets on StubHub listing for up to $22,000.
Taylor Swift Ticketing Disaster Prompts Calls to Break Up Ticketmaster Merger
Taylor Swift fans may feel angry and defeated about the situation. The events highlight a long-standing problem for the live entertainment industry. It has inspired a new call from regulators to crack down on unfair ticket pricing. It even threatens to break up the Ticketmaster merger with Live Nation, which many accuse of monopolizing this industry.
Ticketmaster and Live Nation are two of the largest companies in the entertainment industry. In 2010, the two joined forces via merger, making Live Nation a monolithic force within the live entertainment industry.
Nearly all major concerts and events have been promoted by and ticketed through Live Nation and Ticketmaster since. And 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.
The Taylor Swift ticket sale isn’t the first time this dynamic pricing feature has unfairly priced retail tickets. And it likely won’t be the last. But, it has opened up a conversation among politicians over whether Live Nation can continue to exist as-is. Senator Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate’s antitrust committee, says the sale exemplifies the company’s continued abuse of its market power.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lends support to Klobuchar’s statements, adding that the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster “should never have been approved.” Several other lawmakers have since added that they believe the relationship is, or at least nears on, a monopoly.
Shares of LYV stock are down 6.5% since the Swift sale began sparking these comments.
On the date of publication, Brenden Rearick did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.