As US Investigates Ticketmaster, Botched Sale of Taylor Swift Tickets Fuels Monopoly Criticisms
Sunday November 20, 2022. 12:04 AM , from Slashdot
Ticketmaster provoked ire with a botched sale of tickets to Taylor Swift's first concert in five years. NPR reports:
On Thursday afternoon, the day before tickets were due to open to the general public, Ticketmaster announced that the sale had been cancelled altogether due to 'extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand.' Taylor Swift broke her silence on Friday in statement on Instagram in which she said it is 'excruciating for me to watch mistakes happen with no recourse.' She said there are many reasons people had a hard time getting tickets, and she's trying to figure out how to improve the situation moving forward. 'I'm not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could,' she wrote, without naming Ticketmaster.
America's Justice Department 'has opened an antitrust investigation into the owner of Ticketmaster,' reports the New York Times. But the investigation 'predates the botched sale' and 'is focused on whether Live Nation Entertainment has abused its power over the multibillion-dollar live music industry.'
The new investigation is the latest scrutiny of Live Nation Entertainment, which is the product of a merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster that the Justice Department approved in 2010. That created a giant in the live entertainment business that still has no equals in its reach or power.... The debacle involving Ms. Swiftâ(TM)s concert tickets this week has exacerbated complaints in the music business and in Washington that Live Nationâ(TM)s power has constrained competition and harmed consumers.
Or, as NPR puts it, 'The frenzy has brought renewed scrutiny to the giant Ticketmaster, which critics have long accused of abusing its market power at the expense of consumers.'
Would-be concertgoers have complained vocally about recent incidents with near-instant sellouts and skyrocketing prices, and artists like Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen have feuded with it over the decades. One common complaint is that there doesn't seem to be a clear alternative or competitor to Ticketmaster, especially after it merged with concert provider Live Nation in 2010 (a controversial move that required conditional approval from the U.S. Department of Justice).
Now Tennessee's attorney general, a Republican, is opening a consumer protection investigation into the incident. North Carolina's attorney general announced on Thursday that his office is investigating Ticketmaster for allegedly violating consumers' rights and antitrust laws. And multiple Democratic lawmakers are asking questions about the company's dominance â' not for the first time.... 'Taylor Swift's tour sale is a perfect example of how the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger harms consumers by creating a near-monopoly,' tweeted Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), one of several lawmakers who has long called for investigation and accountability into the company, especially after becoming a subsidiary of concert behemoth Live Nation.
The article also cites a Thursday statement from Ticketmaster:
The company says that using Verified Fan invite codes has historically helped manage the volume of users visiting the website to buy tickets, though that wasn't the case on Tuesday. 'The staggering number of bot attacks as well as fans who didn't have invite codes drove unprecedented traffic on our site, resulting in 3.5 billion total system requests â' 4x our previous peak,' it said, adding that it slowed down some sales and pushed back others to stabilize its systems, resulting in longer wait times for some users.
It estimates that about 15% of interactions across the website experienced issues, which it said is '15% too many.'
The Tuesday sale also broke Ticketmaster's record for most tickets sold for an artist in a single day,' reports People, 'selling two million tickets.'
Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader SpzToid for submitting the story.
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