The Terror of Ticketmaster

I am one of the many thousands of “Swifties” who recently went online to buy tickets for Taylor Swift’s Eras tour as soon as it was announced. The purchasing process took me – and countless others – by surprise when Ticketmaster and Live Nation, Ticketmaster’s owner, turned a process of excitement and anticipation into an experience that caused exasperation and outrage. As a consumer, I quickly realized how Ticketmaster and Live Nation have formed a monopoly, and the prospect of attending a concert is now tainted with anxiety and prohibitive costs. 

The incredible demand for tickets by Swifties erupted in a public backlash against Ticketmaster and has ignited the United States Justice Department to open an antitrust investigation into Ticketmaster. It has also caused Swifties to file a class-action lawsuit against the company. Additionally, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing in January, where senators grilled the president of Live Nation. Senator Richard Blumenthal joked that Republicans and Democrats had finally found something to agree on: breaking up Ticketmaster and Live Nation’s monopoly on the concert industry.

Live Nation and Ticketmaster have been able to control the concert industry for decades, with Live Nation controlling the venues, and Ticketmaster controlling the platform on which artists sell their tickets. In 2011, Ticketmaster rolled out its “Dynamic Pricing” feature, which fluctuates the price of tickets to astronomical levels when there is high demand. This feature caused significant issues, as seen with Bruce Springsteen’s most recent tour, where ticket prices rose to $5,000 per ticket in some cases. Ticketmaster has since allowed artists to turn the feature off but has continued to offer dynamic pricing. So, why don’t artists use other ticketing platforms? The reason is that Live Nation, Ticketmaster’s parent company, owns most music venues worldwide. Therefore artists are shut out from most venues if they choose not to work with Live Nation. In addition, Ticketmaster has secured exclusive ticketing deals with most of these venues, thereby preventing consumers from getting tickets on other ticketing platforms. As a result, artists have no choice but to use Ticketmaster and Live Nation for their tours. This lack of choice stifles competition in the ticketing and venue industry, which is the definition of a monopoly.

Ticketmaster also faces criticism from fans and artists alike for their handle on the secondary ticketing space, commonly referred to as “resale” tickets. The prices of resale tickets frequently inflate to ridiculous prices compared to the face value of the original tickets. Ticketmaster has tried to address this issue by creating the “Verified Fan” program. The Verified Fan program is one where fans sign up before the presale of concert tickets and get selected in a lottery-style drawing. If they are chosen, they get a unique code to purchase tickets to the concert; if not, they are placed on a waitlist. This waitlisting phenomenon happened with millions of Beyoncé fans recently, myself included. The demand for tickets to Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour was 800 times the number available — for only one group of cities. As a result, very few people could purchase tickets, and due to Ticketmaster’s policies, they could not see the prices on the tickets before entering the site. The high prices and time crunch pressured numerous fans to make critical financial decisions in seconds. Many fans in the United States bought tickets to the European leg of Beyoncé’s tour, as the ticketing process is much easier, due in no small part to the regulations of the European Union. No fan should have to travel overseas to see their favorite artist simply due to Ticketmaster’s many faults — especially when they live near a venue where their favorite artist is performing.

Fans deserve an easy, painless, and financially safe ticketing process. Artists deserve an increased choice of ticketing providers, venues, and control of prices on their tours. As long as Ticketmaster and Live Nation dominate the ticketing industry, the average consumer will suffer when trying to purchase a concert ticket. It is time for the United States government to regulate ticket prices and fees. President Joseph R. Biden said in his State of the Union speech on February 7, “capitalism without competition is exploitation.” It is time for Ticketmaster and Live Nation to cease their exploitation of music fans in the United States.



Senators slam Live Nation over Ticketmaster’s dominance, botched Taylor Swift sale

Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing infuriates music fans. Who’s to blame?

Springsteen Fans Raged Over Ticket Prices. Experts Say There’s No Easy Fix