A hearing was held Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee to examine Ticketmaster’s role in the ticketing industry in the wake of last year’s Taylor Swift concert fiasco. As we previously reported, more than two dozen Swifties are suing the parent company Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. for “unlawful conduct” in the pop star’s Eras Tour sale. Long wait times and technical issues disrupted the November presale, which prompted Ticketmaster to cancel the public sale.
In the hearing today, Senators were critical of Ticketmaster, suggesting it is a monopoly and probed whether a lack of competition in the ticketing industry has unfairly hurt customers. Taking it to the next level that we’re sure all Swifties can appreciate, Senators referenced Swift’s lyrics throughout the hearing.
Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mike Lee opened their remarks with sly references to “All Too Well” and “You Belong With Me.” Lee later referred to the idea of limits on ticket transfers as a “nightmare dressed like a daydream.” He also ended his closing remarks with a reference to some of Swift’s latest musical work. “I have to throw out, in deference to my daughter Eliza, one more Taylor Swift quote,” Lee said. “Karma is a relaxing thought, aren’t you envious for you it’s not?”
Senator Blumenthal joined in with a pointed “Anti-Hero” lyric to Live Nation’s president, Joe Berchtold, suggesting the company respectfully take a look in the mirror and say, “I’m the problem, it’s me.”
'Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, 'I’m the problem, it’s me'' — Sen. Richard Blumenthal dropped this lyric reference that Swifties will surely recognize as senators grilled Live Nation CFO Joe Berchtold pic.twitter.com/UOE7tEHSBc— NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 24, 2023
A cybersecurity expert said she was skeptical of the Live Nation president’s claim that “cyberattacks” were partially to blame for Ticketmaster’s inability to handle Taylor Swift ticket sales in December. “We were then hit with three times the amount of bot traffic than we had ever experienced,” Berchtold said in his prepared testimony. “While the bots failed to penetrate our systems or acquire any tickets, the attack required us to slow down and even pause our sales.”
Hackers frequently attack websites by purposely overwhelming them with traffic. But Berchtold’s description indicates that his website wasn’t prepared for the huge demand for Swift tickets. Cybersecurity researcher Tracy Maleeff said, “It sounds like they couldn’t handle the traffic. They probably should have segmented the ticket sales by city or show date. They let the flood gates open then were surprised when it flooded.”
Sen. Lee said in his closing remarks that it is “very important that we maintain fair, free, open and even fierce competition in this. The reason we focus on that is because when there’s competition, it does two things, both of which are very valuable to the average American: it increases quality and it reduces price. We want those things to happen.”
Lee concluded with another reference to a Taylor Swift quote: “Karma is a relaxing thought. Aren’t you envious, that for you it’s not?”