US senators questioned Ticketmaster on Tuesday over its dominance in promoting events following a spectacular slump in ticket sales for last year’s Taylor Swift concert.
Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic senator from Minnesota, recalled going to concerts by Led Zeppelin, The Cars and Aerosmith with friends in high school. Ticket prices and commissions are so high these days that shows are too expensive for many fans.
According to Klobuchar, ticket commission currently accounts for 27% of the ticket price, and could be as high as 75%. The senator said Ticketmaster’s dominance of the market means there is little pressure on it to innovate and improve.
“A strong capitalist system has to have competition,” Klobuchar told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Ticketmaster is the world’s leading ticketing company, processing over 500 million tickets annually in more than 30 countries.
According to data from a federal lawsuit filed last year by a consumer group, about 70% of tickets for the largest concerts in the United States are sold through Ticketmaster.
In mid-November, the Ticketmaster site crashed during pre-sales for Swift’s upcoming tour. The company said its site was overwhelmed by both fans and bot attacks. Many lost their tickets after waiting for hours in the virtual waiting line.
Ticketmaster asked fans to register for the pre-sale, and over 3.5 million people did, setting a record for the company.
Ultimately, the company canceled plans to sell tickets to the general public because it did not have enough seats.
In 2010, Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation, a Beverly Hills, California-based entertainment company that produces live shows, festivals, and concerts.
Live Nation President and Chief Financial Officer Joe Berchtold apologized to fans and Tyler Swift himself on Tuesday, saying the company knows it needs to do better.