BLOG: U.S. Senate to Hold Hearing on Ticketmaster, Consumer Protection, Competition in Ticketing

Live event ticketing is once again taking center stage in the U.S. Congress as the Senate’s Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on Tuesday, January 24 regarding competition and consumer protections in the live events industry and market. Protect Ticket Rights is tracking this hearing closely!

It is expected the hearing will consider how the uniquely powerful position of Live Nation/Ticketmaster throughout live events impacts competition and consumers; from music artist management, tour promotion, venues and their ability to book concert tours, teams and their season ticket accountholders, primary ticketing, and ticket resale.

The hearing will take place only months after Minnesota Senator and Judiciary Committee member Amy Klobuchar wrote a letter to Live Nation’s CEO Michael Rapino expressing “serious concern” about the lack of competition in the ticketing industry as well as its downstream effects on consumers.

The hearing also follows two Capitol Hill events over the past few months designed to educate staff and members of Congress on the state of the ticketing market – a “Ticketing 101” event hosted by the National Consumers League and another on “Breaking the Monopoly in Ticketing” hosted by the American Antitrust Institute. The latter hearing was focused on competition concerns from the group, which are expected to be a substantial focus for the Senate hearing.


Origins of the Hearing

Ticketmaster has faced significant blowback over the past year following high profile ticketing fiascos including high priced Bruce Springsteen tickets and the infamous crash of Taylor Swift’s ticket sales. The Wall Street Journal estimated that 94% of tickets to Taylor Swift were held back by Ticketmaster, captive within the company’s “Verified Fan” slow ticketing system that is designed to maintain full control of tickets – a system that the company hopes will prevent competing ticketing companies from offering tickets but only drives the price of the tickets higher. Creating artificial scarcity by hiding information about the number of tickets that are held back or that will become available later is unfair to consumers and Protect Ticket Rights believes the scheme should be banned under deceptive advertising and marketing regulations.


What They’re Saying

Here’s what some prominent relevant lawmakers have to say about the hearing:

“At next week’s hearing, we will examine how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industries harms customers and artists alike. Without competition to incentivize better services and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences.” – Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

“I look forward to exercising our Subcommittee’s oversight authority to ensure that anticompetitive mergers and exclusionary conduct are not crippling an entertainment industry already struggling to recover from pandemic lockdowns.” – Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)

“After years of abuses and indignities, American fans and ticket buyers are crying out for help attending a live event without scrambling or being ripped off…. This can be the year where Congress comes together to bring real regulation to live events ticketing.” – Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ)

Protect Ticket Rights will closely monitor the hearing and continue to advocate for a free and open ticketing market with robust consumer protections. We stand for enhanced transparency and fairness in live event ticketing. You deserve to know how many tickets are or are not being offered from the total inventory when tickets go on sale, so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not to buy now or wait. You deserve to be able to comparison shop for tickets, just as you can do with virtually any other product. We have made progress in some states where laws have been passed to protect your ticket rights, but there remains a lot of unfinished business ahead. The system is still broken, and it needs to be fixed.

Members of the public can watch the hearing at 10 am ET on Tuesday, January 24 by visiting the Committee’s webpage.

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