By Mike Bedigan, PA Los Angeles Correspondent
A US Senate special committee will hold a hearing to examine the lack of competition in the ticketing industry, after thousands of Taylor Swift fans were left disappointed by online vendors.
It comes after reports of significant service failures and delays on the Ticketmaster website that left fans unable to purchase tickets for the pop megastar’s Eras Tour last Thursday.
The company eventually cancelled the general sale to buy tickets for the US leg of Swift’s tour, citing “insufficient ticket inventory” to meet “extraordinarily high demands”.
General ticket sales were planned to open the next morning on Friday following the verified fan presale, before Ticketmaster cancelled the public sale altogether.
Senator Amy Klobuchar said the incident had made the problem in ticketing markets “painfully obvious” as she and fellow Senator Mike Lee announced plans for the hearing.
The pair are Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, respectively.
“Last week, the competition problem in ticketing markets was made painfully obvious when Ticketmaster’s website failed hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to purchase concert tickets,” Ms Klobuchar said.
“The high fees, site disruptions and cancellations that customers experienced shows how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company does not face any pressure to continually innovate and improve.
“That’s why we will hold a hearing on how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry harms customers and artists alike.
This goes way beyond Taylor Swift. This is about a monopoly that can charge higher prices, hide fees, and fail to give quality service because it doesn’t need to. I am holding a bipartisan hearing with Senator Lee because when there is no competition, Americans pay the price. https://t.co/L3DsbhgZpk
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) November 23, 2022
“When there is no competition to incentivise better services and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences.”
She later added on Twitter that the issue went “way beyond Taylor Swift”.
Mr Lee added: “American consumers deserve the benefit of competition in every market, from grocery chains to concert venues.
“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.”
The hearing date and witnesses will be announced at a later date.
In the aftermath of the Ticketmaster debacle Swift expressed her anger and frustration over the hours spent by fans trying to buy tickets.
Posting a story on Instagram, she wrote: “I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could.
“It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.”
Of those who lost out, Swift said she hopes to “provide more opportunities for us to all get together and sing these songs”.
The singer’s 52-date Eras Tour kicks off on March 17 in Glendale, Arizona, and wraps up with five shows in Los Angeles ending on August 9th.
It is Swift’s first tour since 2018.