After Taylor Swift’s Ticketmaster Fiasco, Live Nation’s President Moved From Apology to Defense During Senate Hearing


The Senate hearings started today, caused by the fiasco related to the sale of Taylor Swift’s Ticketmaster Eras Tour. The arguments are mainly related to how Ticketmaster handled the sale of the pop star’s tour, as well as the debate about the monopolization of the ticket sales industry after the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster in 2010. The president and chief financial officer of Live Nation attended the hearing, and while he acknowledged that what happened was bad, he also defended Ticketmaster, arguing that the ticketing industry has more serious problems.

During the hearing, Joe Berchtold apologized to fans and acknowledged the poor quality of customer service. He also noted problems with bots and ticket scalping. He said during the hearing via Deadline:

We apologize to the fans. We apologize to Taylor Swift. We need to work better, and we will do better.

For context, Ticketmaster took off several times during the pre-sale, and fans waited for hours to get into the place map. After the pre-sale fiasco, Ticketmaster canceled the public sale. Taylor Swift addressed the issue, where she expressed her disappointment about the situation. Although Ticketmaster apologized for the hype, and some fans were able to get tickets after the pre-sale, many were still without tickets, and some made a lot of effort to get on the Eras Tour. In addition, some fans were so enraged that they decided to sue Ticketmaster over the presale fiasco.

All this led to the Senate intervening and holding a hearing on the sale and general problems with Ticketmaster sales. Swift and Swifties were not the first and not the last singers and fans to have problems with the ticket company.

Berchtold said that the company regrets that a lot went wrong during the sale of the Eras Tour, and explained via the NYT:

This is what led to a terrible consumer experience, which we deeply regret.

Berchtold also explained during the hearing that Live Nation is “best in class,” according to the NYT. However, he also noted that there are problems in the ticket industry as a whole. He explained that the bot attacks were one of the reasons why the sale went so badly, saying that “in hindsight” they could have “done better.”

In addition, Berchtold explained that the way to solve the big problem with tickets is through Congress. He acknowledged there was a problem with the Swift sale, and then said that part of the solution was the creation of legislation by the federal government. While many senators and witnesses have questioned the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, the company’s CFO said that since 2010 they have “lost rather than gained market share” (via Deadline).

The president and CFO of Live Nation defended the company, saying that there is “ticket scalping on an industrial scale” and that ticket prices are set not by Ticketmaster, but by the artist. However, according to Deadline, the company criticizes the extremely high fees during the sale.

Representatives of companies such as Seat Geek, which is one of Ticketmaster’s competitors, and Jam Productions, an independent entertainment producer, were present to testify at the hearing. Jerry Mickelson, executive director of Jam Productions, turned to Ticketmaster and, in particular, to the Swift sale, saying that this indicates a more serious problem, the NYT reports. He explained that it’s “unbelievable” that a company like Ticketmaster can’t handle bots, and that “there’s something else in this story” that hasn’t been told yet.

Both Republicans and Democrats spoke out against Ticketmaster during the hearing. This is a bipartisan issue, as Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, pointed out via the NYT:

I want to congratulate and thank you for an absolutely amazing achievement: you united Republicans and Democrats in an absolutely unified cause.

Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana explained that what happened during the Swift sale “was a fiasco.” Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, also indicated that she did not understand why Ticketmaster did not “develop an algorithm” to find out the difference between bots and customers. Overall, both sides were disappointed with what happened with Ticketmaster.

The hearing came to an end during the day, and there is currently no decision. Eras Tour is next in the list of Swift’s upcoming projects, it will be interesting to see what happens from this rumor and whether it will affect ticket sales in the future for both the Midnights vocalist and other artists.


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