U.S. senator questions Ticketmaster after complaints about Taylor Swift sales

LOS ANGELES/WASHINGTON, Nov 17 (Reuters) – Ticketmaster faced a U.S. Democratic senator on Thursday over its sales practices, two days after Taylor Swift fans complained of a website outage, And the long wait for tickets to her upcoming US tour.

In a letter to Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation Entertainment Inc (LYV.N), Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the chair of the Senate antitrust panel, expressed “serious concerns about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its detrimental impact on consumers.” .

“Ticketmaster’s power in key ticketing markets insulates it from the competitive pressures that would normally drive the company to innovate and improve its services,” Klobuchar added in her publicly released letter. “It could lead to the kind of dramatic service failures we saw this week, and consumers are the ones paying the price.”

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Ticketmaster said in a statement on Thursday that it expected high demand for tickets to see Swift on tour for the first time in five years, but that this overwhelming interest combined with the bot attack resulted in “unprecedented volumes on our site. traffic”, which has caused inconvenience to some people. fan.

“The biggest venues and artists turn to us because we have world-leading ticketing technology – that doesn’t mean it’s perfect, and obviously for Taylor’s sales it isn’t,” the statement said. “But we’re always working hard to improve the ticketing experience.”

The company added that about 15 percent of interactions with the site were experiencing issues, and 2 million tickets were sold on Tuesday.

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Swift fans flooded Ticketmaster that day, and the wait was long, with many unable to buy tickets. Ticketmaster’s statement did not address any of Klobuchar’s competition concerns.

In her letter, Klobuchar asked Live Nation CEO Michael Rapinoe to answer questions including how much the company spent upgrading technology to handle the surge in demand and how many high-profile tour tickets were pre-sold. Ticketmaster’s statement did not respond to those questions.

Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in a 2010 deal that was approved by the Justice Department. The government can challenge completed mergers, but rarely does so. Klobuchar said in her letter that she was skeptical of the combination at the time.

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Ticketmaster has irritated artists and fans alike for decades. In the mid-1990s, rock band Pearl Jam decided to tour without Ticketmaster, but found it too cumbersome and returned to the service 14 months later.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles and Diane Bartz in Washington Editing by Gerry Doyle and Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Diane Butts

Thomson Reuters

Focused on U.S. antitrust and corporate regulation and legislation, with experience covering the Bosnian War, elections in Mexico and Nicaragua, and Brazil, Chile, Cuba, El Salvador, Nigeria, and Peru.

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