Taylor Swift's highly anticipated “Eras” concert tour was recently marred by a ticket fiasco that left many fans disappointed and frustrated. The singer was set to perform for two nights at the Staples Center in Los Angeles but the tickets were sold out in minutes due to an influx of bots and scalpers.
Fans were outraged when they saw that the tickets were listed on secondary ticket sites such as StubHub and Viagogo for exorbitant prices. Some tickets were being sold for up to ten times their face value, with many fans unable to get their hands on any tickets at all.
The fiasco has now reached the US senate with senators now slamming the ticketing partners Live Nation Entertainment for their lack of transparency and inability to block bots and scalpers from purchasing tickets.
Republican Senator John Kennedy said, "The way your company handled ticket sales for Ms. Swift was a debacle, and whoever in your company was in charge of that should be fired. If you care about the consumer, cut the price! Cut out the bots! Cut out the middle people and if you really care about the consumer, give the consumer a break!"
"We apologize to the fans, we apologize to Ms. Swift, we need to do better and we will do better. In hindsight there are several things we could have done better – including staggering the sales over a longer period of time and doing a better job setting fan expectations for getting tickets," Joe Berchtold, President and CFO of Live Nation told the US Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday.
Lack of competition
Ticketmaster and Live Nation are two of the biggest players in the live event ticketing industry. Together, they control a large portion of the market and have little competition.
Ticketmaster, a subsidiary of Live Nation Entertainment, is the largest ticketing company in the world, handling the majority of ticket sales for live events in North America. They have a vast network of partners, including venues, promoters, and artists, and offer a variety of services such as ticketing, marketing, and fan engagement tools.
Live Nation, on the other hand, is the world's largest live entertainment company, owning and operating venues, promoting tours, and managing artists. They also have a ticketing division, which operates under the Ticketmaster brand.
The combination of Ticketmaster's ticketing expertise and Live Nation's live entertainment industry experience makes them a formidable force in the industry. They have a wide range of offerings that make it difficult for other companies to compete, and their size and scale allow them to negotiate favourable deals with venues and artists.
There are some smaller ticketing companies that have tried to compete, such as StubHub and SeatGeek, but they have not been able to match the reach and resources of Ticketmaster and Live Nation. Some have also criticized the company for its high service fees and lack of transparency in its pricing structure.
"I'm not against big per se, but I am against dumb," Republican Senator John Kennedy said, referring to Live Nation's dominance in the ticket sales market.
Scalpers and Bots
The problem of bots and scalpers is not new, with many large concert and sporting events facing similar issues in the past. The difficulty lies in the fact that these secondary sites are often not regulated, meaning there is nothing to stop bots and scalpers from purchasing tickets in bulk and driving prices up to astronomical levels.
To combat the issue, some venues have implemented initiatives such as paperless ticketing, meaning that fans must present the original credit card used to purchase the tickets in order to gain entry. This can be effective, as bots rarely possess a physical credit card and scalpers would be deterred from buying in bulk.
In light of the Taylor Swift ticket fiasco, other artists and venues have spoken out. Some artists have declared that they will no longer be selling tickets through secondary sites, preferring instead to stick to primary ticketing outlets and stubbing out any potential abuse.
Ultimately, it is down to the fans to stay vigilant and be aware of the potential for tickets to be resold at an inflated price, so that they can make sure they get to see their favourite artist perform, without breaking the bank.
(With agency inputs)
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