Ticketmaster Monopoly: Senate to Hold Antitrust Hearing

A US Senate antitrust panel will hold a hearing on Ticketmaster’s control of the ticketing industry. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) confirmed the hearing after a tidal wave of complaints about the upcoming Taylor Swift “Eras” tour. Major service outages, massive delays, exorbitant fees, and exponential markups sparked outrage among fans looking to purchase tickets. Here’s everything you need to know about the Ticketmaster monopoly.

Ticketmaster has had a quiet monopoly for nearly thirty years.

In 1994, seminal grunge rock outfit Pearl Jam warned the world about Ticketmaster’s control over the ticketing industry. The band insisted on only charging $18 to see their upcoming tour for their 1993 LP, Vs. However, when Ticketmaster tried to charge multiple times that in fees, the band pulled out. 

In protest to Ticketmaster, Pearl Jam decided to only book venues that didn’t work with the company for their tour. The only problem was they couldn’t. Ticketmaster had exclusivity contracts with all the major arenas in the United States. (Many of which they still have to this day, almost thirty years later.) Subsequently, the Justice Department pushed the band to file an antitrust complaint

Unfortunately, despite the band’s efforts and several class-action lawsuits, Ticketmaster still holds control over the industry to this day. Additionally, in 2010 Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation, gaining an even tighter grip on the live event ticketing industry.

Don’t mess with the Swifties. 

What Ticketmaster didn’t expect was the dogged persistence of Swifties (a nickname for Taylor Swift fans). Even fans who had access to presales had a hard time securing a ticket for the tour. And if they could grab one, it was at an exponential markup thanks to Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing model. Dynamic pricing came under fire earlier this year upon the announcement of the new Blink-182 tour. At publication, tickets for The Eras Tour are unavailable on Ticketmaster due to the controversy.

Senators Klobuchar and Mike Lee (R-UT), who lead the Senate antitrust panel, have yet to confirm a date for the hearing. 

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