Taylor Swift ticket meltdown: Ticketmaster officials answer lawmakers’ questions

It was the day that Taylor Swift fans had been looking forward to, but their hopes of seeing their favorite performer were quickly squashed when Ticketmaster crashed.

Now, the company that owns Ticketmaster, Live Nation, has been called to Capitol Hill to explain why ticket sales melted down.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee has called several witnesses to testify whether Ticketmaster and Live Nation Entertainment have a monopoly on ticket sales, CNN reported.

Reuters reported that Ticketmaster owns more than 70% of the market for ticket sales at major U.S. concert venues.

In addition to brokering the majority of primary ticket sales, the company also tacks on fees.

Singer-songwriter Clyde Lawrence testified that Ticketmaster adds a 40% fee to a ticket that may be listed at $30, forcing the concertgoer to pay $42 for the ticket. However, the performer is paid at the ticket’s face value, without the fee, or about $12, CNN reported.

Lawrence also said that some of the fees have been as high as 82% without the artist having any say on how much the fees are.

The list of witnesses includes:

  • Joe Berchtold, president and CFO of Live Nation.
  • Jack Groetzinger, CEO of SeatGeek.
  • Jerry Mickelson, CEO of Jam Productions, a live entertainment production company.
  • Clyde Lawrence.

Swift called the November sales for her Eras Tour “excruciating” for her to watch, posting to Instagram after the incident.

“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, according to CNN. “It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.”

People who had attempted to buy tickets had to deal with the site not loading, and when it did, they were not able to use the pre-sale code for verified fans that was supposed to allow access to buy the tickets.

Ticketmaster said the general sale was canceled because of “extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand.”

More than 3.5 billion requests for tickets happened when the sales opened, Reuters reported.

Ticketmaster said that scalpers used bots to buy the tickets, which caused the system to crash, Reuters reported.

BBC News reported Berchtold told the committee in written testimony before Tuesday’s hearing, “We were then hit with three times the amount of bot traffic than we had ever experienced, and for the first time in 400 Verified Fan onsales they came after our Verified Fan access code servers.

“While the bots failed to penetrate our systems or acquire any tickets, the attack required us to slow down and even pause our sales. This is what led to a terrible consumer experience that we deeply regret.”

Berchtold is expected to ask for help in fighting technology used by scalpers who then turn the tickets around for extremely high profits. When the tickets sold out, 2.2 million were sold and less than 5% ended up on resale sites by scalpers.

But Berchtold wrote, “In hindsight there are several things we could have done better,” BBC News reported.

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