The ongoing saga between Taylor Swift’s pre-sale concert tickets and Ticketmaster hit the floor of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, and there were gratuitous Swift quotes used at the hearing.
Back in November, Ticketmaster faced intense scrutiny due to their mishandling of the pre-release of Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ Tour concert tickets, which they were the sole first-party sellers of. Not only did the tickets seemingly disappear — that’s how fast they sold — the Ticketmaster website slowed to a halt at some points, and fans unable to secure a chair for the impending tour were left scorned and had to deal with a mountainous scalper market that saw ticket prices hit upwards of $20,000 on resale sites.
Ticketmaster still left the situation with full coffers, noting they sold two million tickets on November 16, the most ever sold for a single artist in a day. This issue hit the floor of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, where Senators questioned Ticketmaster to determine their ‘monopoly’ status but also included ‘necessary’ Taylor Swift lyrical quotes.
This is where the U.S. Senate comes into play, the point of the hearing at large, according to Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., as he said, “This garnered a lot of attention in November when Ticketmaster’s systems failed during the presale for Taylor Swift’s new tour, leaving millions of fans stuck in virtual queues for hours waiting to buy tickets,” including “These issues are symptomatic, I think, of a larger problem. The ticketing and live entertainment markets lack competition and are dominated by a single entity: Live Nation,” regarding the massive issue. Lawmakers focused on the 2010 merger between LiveNation and Ticketmaster to a heavy degree, but with insertions of Taylor Swift lyrics, as evidenced by the below Tweet.
This started a domino effect of Senate speakers following suit and utilizing their Taylor Swift lyrical knowledge to show disdain for LiveNation. Below is a list of the carnage on display:
- Vice President of the James Madison Institute, Sal Nuzzo said “A few million Taylor Swift fans would respond, ‘This is why we can’t have nice things.'”
- Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. said, “May I suggest, respectfully, that Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m the problem, It’s me.'” to CFO of LiveNation Joe Berchtold.
- Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, continued the grilling of Berchtold with ‘I think it’s a nightmare dressed like a daydream,’ in reference to the surrounding Taylor Swift issue.
- And Mike Lee closed out the show while also simultaneously lifting the notion the Senators were accidentally quoting Swift with “I have to throw out, in deference to my daughter Eliza, one more Taylor Swift quote. ‘Karma is a relaxing thought, aren’t you envious that for you it’s not.'”
The overall content of the hearing was trying to determine how large the ticketing issue is, whether there is competition in the space, and to shine a spotlight on how much LiveNation/Ticketmaster gains in sales. ABC reports Klobuchar stated, “One GAO [Government Accountability Office] study found that 27% of the ticket price was the fees. A recent study found that for some tickets, it’s as high as 75% of face value,” prior to the hearing.
LiveNation CFO, Joe Berchtold deflected responsibility for the company by saying, “We also need to recognize how industrial scalpers breaking the law using bots and cyberattacks to try to unfairly gain tickets contributes to an awful consumer experience,” to place blame on ‘botting’ programs used to buy up large amounts of tickets, with testimony from Country Singer Garth Brooks saying “My question is, as a country, why don’t we just make scalping illegal? The crush of bots during an on-sale is a huge reason for program failure,” according to Reuters.
Berchtold also said, “In hindsight there are several things we could have done better – including staggering the sales over a longer period of time and doing a better job setting fan expectations for getting tickets,” regarding the sale, with an apology of “We apologize to the fans. We apologize to Ms. Swift — We need to do better, and we will do better.”
While this situation still feels far from over, considering StubHub still has secondary nosebleed seating tickets for the ‘Eras’ Tour at Metlife Stadium listed for over $1,000, fans should stay tuned to see what happens next.