Correction: Live Nation President and CFO Joe Berchtold testified at last month’s hearing.
A bipartisan duo of lawmakers, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah.), are urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to further its investigation into possible anticompetitive conduct by events companies Live Nation and Ticketmaster.
In a letter sent on Thursday to Jonathan Kanter, DOJ’s Antitrust Division assistant attorney general, the senators wrote that they’re “concerned about the state of competition in America’s ticketing industry,” noting how Live Nation and its widely-used subsidiary Ticketmaster have used monopoly power and anti-competitive status to harm fans and artists.
Both senators, who serve as members of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, conducted a hearing on the topic last month after news reports detailed significant service failures and delays on Ticketmaster’s website in November as fans tried to purchase concert tickets for Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour.”
In the aftermath of the Swift concert tickets fiasco, several of the pop star’s fans have filed lawsuits against Ticketmaster claiming antitrust violations among other things.
Live Nation President and CFO Joe Berchtold testified under oath and answered questions during last month’s hearing, with Klobuchar and Lee sending a letter to the company pressing for answers on the lack of competition in the ticketing and live entertainment industry.
“We recently held a bipartisan hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee at which the President of Live Nation testified under oath, as did other industry participants, including an artist, a secondary market ticketing company, a promoter, and industry experts. … As an initial matter, other than Live Nation’s executive, every witness at our hearing testified that Live Nation is harming America’s music industry,” the senators wrote in their letter.
The lawmakers also wrote in their letter that Live Nation has “largely failed” to answer the questions they have during and after the meeting that included how many of the top 100 arenas the company provides ticketing services to and whether the company would commit to “having third-party audits to confirm that it is neither threatening to retaliate or actually retaliating against venues that select other ticketing services providers after the consent decree expires.”
“Live Nation’s responses amount to ‘trust us.’ We believe that is wholly insufficient,” the senators wrote. “We thank you for your prompt attention to these matters and encourage the Antitrust Division to take action if it finds that Ticketmaster has walled itself off from competitive pressure at the expense of the industry and fans.”
Thursday’s letter comes after the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a warning to Ticketmaster earlier this month after pop/R&B star Beyoncé announced her highly-anticipated Renaissance World Tour.
“We’re watching, @Ticketmaster,” the committee wrote in a tweet in response to the announcement.
Updated at 1:48 p.m.