Live & Touring

Ticketmaster to blame scalpers for Taylor Swift debacle at today’s Senate hearing

Joe Berchtold, president and chief financial officer of Live Nation Entertainment, will blame scalpers and bots for the recent Taylor Swift ticketing meltdown at today’s U.S. Senate hearing.

Hoping to push back on acquisitions that Ticketmaster has not invested enough in technology and customer service because it is a monopoly, Berchtoild will reportedly tell Senators, ““We knew bots would attack [Taylor Swift’s] onsale, and planned accordingly. We were hit with three times the amount of bot traffic than we had ever experienced and for the first time in 400 Verified Fan onsales they came after our Verified Fan access code servers.

“While the bots failed to penetrate our systems or acquire any tickets, the attack required us to slow down and even pause our sales,” according to Bechtold in prepared testimony obtained by Billboard. “This is what led to a terrible consumer experience that we deeply regret.”

Expect Fireworks

Negative Ticketmaster sentiment and criticism of the 2010 Live Nation and Ticketmaster merger are among the few things that Democratic and Republican lawmakers seem to agree on.

SeatGeek CEO Jack Groetzinger and Chicago promoter Jerry Mickelson of Jam Productions are among the witnesses expected to disagree strongly. [Read a full list of witnesses and how to watch the hearings here.]

“However you look at it, that’s a monopoly.”

So expect firey comments and questions from committee members Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Corey Booker (D-NJ), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), as well as Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) and ranking member Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) who both called the hearing.

“In the live music industry, there’s the unique fact that you’ve got a company that has 70% of tickets for major concert venues.,” Klobuchar told Rolling Stone this week. “However you look at it, that’s a monopoly. And when you have monopolies, you get problems, and you’ve seen it in everything from, of course, Taylor Swift, but also Harry Styles to BTS and Bruce Springsteen.”

Ticket Fees Are Also A Target

“In 2018, many years ago, the Government Accountability Office found that on average fees cost 27% of a ticket’s face value, but we’ve also seen reports of fees totaling 75% of face value,” added Klobuchar.

MORE: How to watch today’s Ticketmaster, Live Nation Senate hearing plus a witness list

Ticketmaster, Live Nation, The Senate & The Feds: An Evolution May Come (Bill Werde)

Bruce Houghton is the Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank, a Senior Advisor at Bandsintown, President of the Skyline Artists Agency, and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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