Following this week’s Taylor Swift ticket on-sale chaos that crashed Ticketmaster’s back-end infrastructure and left both fans and Swift herself in an uproar, the U.S. Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation, according to the New York Times.
Per that report, the investigation will focus on whether or not Live Nation has abused its power over “the multibillion-dollar live music industry.” Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in 2010 in a deal approved on the condition that Live Nation sold a piece of its ticketing business to another company, which it eventually did to rival AEG. In 2019, Live Nation was found to have violated terms of its original deal.
For music fans of a certain age, today’s news echoes Pearl Jam‘s mid-1990s battle against what it decried as Ticketmaster’s “virtual monopoly on the distribution of tickets to concerts in this country.” Band members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament testified about the issue on Capitol Hill in the summer of 1994, but the matter was dropped with little fanfare two years later. Contacted by SPIN, Pearl Jam declined comment on the new DOJ investigation. Messages seeking comment were left with representatives for the DOJ, Live Nation, and Ticketmaster.
Earlier today, Swift made her first public comments about this week’s on-sales, writing on Instagram, “Well. It goes without saying that I’m extremely protective of my fans. We’ve been doing this for decades together and over the years, I’ve brought so many elements of my career in house. I’ve done this SPECIFICALLY to improve the quality of my fans’ experience by doing it myself with my team who care as much about my fans as I do,” she wrote. “It’s really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties, and excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse. There are a multitude of reasons why people had such a hard time trying to get tickets and I’m trying to figure out how this situation can be improved moving forward.”
“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,” she continued. “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. And to those who didn’t get tickets, all I can say is that my hope is to provide more opportunities for us to all get together and sing these songs. Thank you for wanting to be there. You have no idea how much that means..”
Earlier this year, SPIN surveyed the ticketing landscape following similar fan outrage at Ticketmaster’s handling of Bruce Springsteen‘s 2023 tour on-sales. including the handful of legislative efforts underway by lawmakers such as New York state senator James Skoufis to offer consumers greater transparency. To read that story, click here.
‘The Taylor Swift chaos was finally the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Senator Skoufis tells SPIN. “The Department of Justice needs to come down on Ticketmaster with a hammer so hard that it’s smashed into pieces, the Live Nation merger is undone, and sanity is restored back to the primary marketplace. In the meantime, lawmakers need to start siding with frustrated, angry fans instead of a monopoly that rakes their constituents over coals on a daily basis.”