February 3, 2023


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Senator Amy Klobuchar at Ticketmaster Hearing, Fave Taylor Swift Song

4 min read

Tuesday’s Senate hearing on the ticket industry was memorable for any number of reasons, and not least because the witnesses and many (not all) senators were well briefed on the issue and made their cases powerfully.

A major reason for this is Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN.), who not only led the hearing with fellow Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT.) but is chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights. . The hearing, titled “It’s the Ticket: Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment,” was inspired at least in part by the debacle surrounding Taylor Swift’s on-sale tour in October — which left many fans waiting hours in virtual lines — but focused on a long-standing antitrust case against Ticketmaster. On Demand, which is owned by Live Nation and controls approximately 70% of the ticket market.

However, it must be emphasized that it is not Congress that can break the alleged monopoly – it is the Department of Justice, which is currently looking into the matter.

Senator Klobuchar caught up with Variety during a hearing Wednesday afternoon; Our detailed summary of Tuesday’s hearing can be found here.

How do you think the hearing went?

I thought it went very well — almost everyone was prepared, which helps, and I thought the witnesses made their cases strongly but not really rudely. They were aggressive a few times, but they weren’t trying to make a “goat” with the witnesses. I thought they were really good and thought through and were they really effective.

In your opinion, what is the main issue that makes Ticketmaster unique? Is it true that it is owned by Live Nation? And if the two entities are divided, will the problem be solved?

Well, it depends on how its structured, but they are exclusive. First, in ticketing alone, they are exclusive – it’s 70% [of the market]. But one of the reasons for not being able to change the status is the Klout they use. Because Live Nation is also much more [event]-Promotion business, and either partial venue ownership or a sort of virtual ownership when they enter into 3, 5, 7-year contracts with venues, where virtually no other ticketing entity can compete at that time. So they can do both sides of the business enabling them to get more of those tickets and making for less competition. So if you break them down, it’s probably easier for people to get in on both sides.

Do you think that the problem will be solved if the two entities are separated? If Live Nation had to offload Ticketmaster?

I think it will be very helpful. But it will depend on how the whole thing is structured.

When an exclusive breaks up, does it necessarily make things better?

Yes, it will, because [competitors] There will actually be a chance to survive and expand. A great example, albeit a long time ago, was the AT&T breakup. At first, it was, “It’s the only phone service, it would be a disaster if you broke them, it’s bad for national security,” that kind of thing. And they had monopoly rights over a wide variety of phone companies geographically in the country and vertically over hardware and things like that. But after they split, even a former chairman of AT&T actually said that it made them a stronger company — it forced them to compete. And what this has done for consumers is to drastically reduce long-distance prices [phone service]And at the same time, it greatly developed the cellphone industry, because there was competition, other people were getting into it and [the result was] What it is today, cell phones vs. the size of a brick from the movie “Wall Street.” So that’s the idea here — there are historical examples of how breaking up a company can actually lead to more competition. And if we believe in capitalism, you want to compete otherwise, you don’t really have capitalism, you have a monopoly situation. So that’s where I think a lot of senators have come together, and they’ve clearly heard stories in their area, either about concerts gone bad or tickets gone bad, or about arenas trying to compete against Ticketmaster-owned arenas.

To be fair to Ticketmaster, there’s a lot of problems they’ve faced, from artist integration bots and on-sells, who would be in that position, right?

I think we don’t know because there are no competitors. I have no doubts about cyber attack [would come after] No company, but how will they deal with it? That’s why we want competition: we don’t know. But whether it’s a Bad Bunny concert or a Springsteen concert or you name it, when you don’t have any real competition, the price or the fee goes up.

How do you stop this problem from fading away? Because it has been going on for almost 30 years.

First, that strong bipartisan support means something. There will be follow-ups and more questions and evidence that will now go to the Justice Department. It has been reported many, many times that there is a Justice Department investigation going on [regarding Ticketmaster], and it depends on them. I can’t intervene or know about it, but I believe that what we did will go further, because they will have some incredible testimony and information to use in their investigation. And the Google case was announced after our hearing yesterday.

One more important question, especially after all the Taylor Swift lyric quotes in yesterday’s hearing: What is your favorite Taylor Swift song?

“I knew you were in trouble,” because that’s how I felt when a few of our committee members walked in the door. (laughs)

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