Taylor Swift fans struggled through disappointment after disappointment during the presale for her long awaited tour after years of COVID-19. After claims from Ticketmaster about facing a “historically unprecedented demand,” Swift herself later commented that Ticketmaster had repeatedly assured her that they would be able to handle said demand. Prominent politicians including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Amy Klobuchar have criticized the platform for market abuses as what is essentially an unchecked monopoly. While it’s currently unclear how many issues contributed to the disaster of a presale, Ticketmaster’s status as a monopoly and the need to break up the merger that led to this are not.
As of Summer 2022, the Department of Justice was already investigating Ticketmaster, and its parent company, for antitrust violations. The merger of Ticketmaster with Live Nation, a major concert production company, played an enormous part in this fiasco. This agreement was done with federal permission and management. It demanded that Ticketmaster and Live Nation, among other things, could not compel the usage of Ticketmaster by any venue. This agreement was violated as Ticketmaster appeared to have forced venues and artists to use their services over others. The agreement was extended to 2025. It’s unclear as to why this would stop Ticketmaster and its parent company from continuing to operate as a monopoly and box out all their competitors when, historically, they have been broadly noncompliant.
While it was the record-breaking sales for Taylor Swift’s Era Tour that brought this issue to light and has the general public examining Ticketmaster’s market abuses, artists and venues have put out grievances related to Ticketmaster frequently prior to this sale. There has been a constant and consistent barrage of criticism over Ticketmaster’s anti-competitive business model.
Their dominance in the industry has led to ridiculous service fees and wait times since they can’t be challenged by other companies. Numerous politicians commented on the danger of Ticketmaster as a monopoly, demanded that the companies be broken up and heralded the decision to allow the merger as a fatal mistake. Their status has allowed them to get away with horrific service conditions that they have no motivation to improve and fees that have added up sometimes to about 78% of the actual ticket price.
These companies have shown that they cannot be trusted to follow antitrust laws and do good by consumers. Ticketmaster and Live Nation have taken advantage of their status and are harming an entire industry as venues, artists and fans pay the price. The merger between these companies has given them too much leverage and breadth. If market abuses like these are allowed to continue, the competition which drives businesses to improve and stay competitive is already dead.