Ticketmaster Under Fire for Mishaps and Bullying

by Tatiana Rodriguez ‘23

The entertainment company Ticketmaster continues to face fallout from its miscues for Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour” last summer when the general sale of tickets had to be canceled since the event sold out during the presale. The general sale was the only opportunity for most fans to get tickets because they already were locked out of the presale. As a result of the fiasco, a group of fans banded together to sue Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation Entertainment.
Swift fans argue that Ticketmaster and Live Nation Entertainment are lying about their ability to satisfy high demands, charging extremely high fees, and violating antitrust laws because they have no other competition. This final allegation centers on the belief that Ticketmaster and Live Nation Entertainment never should have merged since they essentially have become a monopoly in the live music industry.

The ticket sales debacle for Swift’s tour is not the only time Ticketmaster has let artists and their fans down. Ticketmaster had problems during Bad Bunny’s concert in Mexico City last December when hundreds of legitimate tickets were refused at the gate. Ticketmaster claimed that it was due to the excess number of fake tickets that were being bought, especially in Mexico, that caused the website to malfunction and ruin the valid tickets that people bought for the show. In this case, Ticketmaster reimbursed fans with an extra 20-percent compensation fee for the inconvenience.

Ticketmaster’s problems caught the attention of U.S. senators who called witnesses to a hearing to explore whether the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation Entertainment constitutes a monopoly. During the hearing, senators also questioned whether the company is bullying venue companies into working with them. This line of questioning was supported after Justice Department investigators found that Live Nation threatened venues with withholding tours if they didn’t sign up with Ticketmaster. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) brought up the point that such actions constitute a monopoly in which the promoter of a convert (Live Nation) is requiring that a venue use one ticket company (Ticketmaster).

Live Nation representatives argued that the company does in fact have competition from rivals like SeatGeek. They also constantly tried to blame bots for ticket malfunctions, to which senators asked if a huge company should have a code or procedure to determine whether it was a bot or a real person trying to buy tickets. Senators warned Ticketmaster that they will carefully watch how Ticketmaster handles Beyonce’s upcoming tour.