11/20/20224 min read


You are not alone if you attempted in vain to get a ticket for Taylor Swift's Eras Tour this week.

The fury that Swift fans felt as they waited in line for hours only to be charged extortionate service fees by ticketing platform Ticketmaster immediately swept over the internet when tickets for Swift's tour went on presale on Tuesday. Due to strong demand and "insufficient remaining ticket inventory," Ticketmaster stated on Thursday that public ticket sales for the tour will not take place on Friday.

This tour marks the performer's first since 2018 and follows her album "Midnights," which had the biggest album debut in seven years. Fans were not going to miss out in any manner.

Swifties weren't the only people, though. The legislators were quick to raise concerns regarding Ticketmaster as a whole.

On Twitter, Rhode Island's U.S. Rep. David Cicilline referred to Ticketmaster's fees and wait times as "unacceptable" and "a symptom of a larger problem."

Cicilline tweeted, "It's no secret that Live Nation-Ticketmaster is an unchecked monopoly."

Legislators and fans have previously reacted negatively toward Ticketmaster.Before it merged with concert promoter Live Nation in 2010 to form Live Nation Entertainment, Ticketmaster had a virtual monopoly on ticketing as the largest platform in the United States.At the time, there was a lot of skepticism regarding the possibility of a merger between the largest concert promoter and the largest ticket marketplace in the world.The merger was feared to result in a monopoly on concert ticket sales and fewer choices for fans and artists.

Ticketmaster has agreements with 80% of the major music venues in the United States, and ticket prices have never been higher.Service fees for Ticketmaster purchases can amount to up to 75% of the ticket price, sometimes even the price of the ticket itself, despite the fact that artists set the price of tickets.

David Herlihy, coordinator of Northeastern University's music industry program and former frontman of Boston alt-rock band O Positive, states, "It's bad for competition, it's bad for the market, and it's bad for innovation."The lack of competition has devastating effects.Additionally, there are exclusive arrangements in which a venue and Ticketmaster collaborate exclusively.Therefore, anyone wishing to enter must use Ticketmaster.

What brought us here?

According to Herlihy, the Clinton administration saw the government loosen its restrictions on media ownership, which led to the current monopoly in concert promotion and ticket sales.Prior to Ticketmaster and Live Nation, regional concert promoters "agreed to stay out of each other's realm" and each had their own ticketing system.

According to Herlihy, "there was this history of regional promoters and regional markets that really paid attention to the regional genres and music scenes."

The nascent internet was used by platforms like Live Nation and Ticketmaster to provide services across the country.They are now so common that artists and venues either have to cooperate or not play at all.

Live Country Amusement has confronted charges from the U.S. Division of Equity of solid outfitting settings into utilizing Ticketmaster.As Pearl Jam discovered the hard way in 1994, artists and venues didn't always have a choice about working with Live Nation and Ticketmaster before the merger.

Over the service fees it was charging their fans, the grunge band went to war with Ticketmaster.The band even went so far as to file a civil complaint with the Justice Department, making claims about the company's monopolistic and anti-consumer practices. This led to an investigation into the company's practices, but the investigation ultimately failed to produce any results.

A first for a band as well-known and successful as Pearl Jam at the time, the band-limited their tour dates to venues other than Ticketmaster in 1995.Although the tour itself was a logistical nightmare, Pearl Jam was able to maintain low ticket prices and service fees. The band's manager at the time, Kelly Curtis, told the Washington Post that it was hard to find venues that didn't work with Ticketmaster that had good acoustics and could safely stage a big rock show.

Curtis stated that Pearl Jam, one of the biggest bands in the world, was forced to perform "at weird places like a ski resort in Lake Tahoe and a fairground in San Diego" due to Ticketmaster's grip on the majority of large venues. It was nearly impossible to book a show in Los Angeles or New York.

Herlihy asserts, "They paid a big price."They were opposing "The Man," and when you do that, you have to book your own shows, promote your own shows, and offer your own ticketing system. You will need to construct your own back roads if you are not going to use the paved superhighway, which is extremely difficult to do.

The band spent $2 million on the tour, and because it didn't play Ticketmaster venues, Pearl Jam didn't tour much for the next three years to promote its albums, and when it did, it almost always played shows in other countries.

To close the gender gap in the music industry, Northeastern students establish the first collegiate Women in Music chapter.

Herlihy acknowledges that neither fans nor artists can do much to improve the situation.

Herlihy says, "I can't sue Ticketmaster." [Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam's lead singer, tried.They were righteous, Pearl Jam tried, but it didn't work.

He says that the only solution is to "break it up, force them to separate, and get rid of the exclusive venue contracts," but Herlihy is not optimistic about this.

A consent decree that the Justice Department had issued as a condition of Live Nation Entertainment's 2010 merger was found to have been violated by its practices, according to the 2019 DOJ report.The DOJ and Live Nation Entertainment amended and extended the decree by five years beyond its initial 10-year expiration date, to 2025, without taking into account the merger's effect on customers.

Herlihy says, "It has to be the government."They must enter and declare, "We're going to break this up," which requires a lot of uphill fighting.

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