… Ready for it? Sports fans know All Too Well the miserable ticketing process that Ticketmaster puts us through whenever we want to buy tickets to a game. They jack up prices with fees, restrict our right to transfer our tickets and make the general buying process frustrating. Sports Fans Coalition has spent the last several years educating lawmakers and the public about this, and last week our efforts reached a boiling point. Call It What You Want; bad luck, Karma, or unchecked monopoly power run amok, Ticketmaster is no longer Untouchable.
In 2009, Ticketmaster and Live Nation merged. While artists, venues, and lawmakers opposed the merger, ultimately the DOJ approved the merger. Department of Justice (DOJ) antitrust chief Christine Varney justified the DOJ’s settlement by stating that remedies required by the merger would promote “robust competition” that would “benefit consumers.” This promise never materialized. Despite this, and despite repeated violations of the DOJ’s and Ticketmaster’s settlement, the DOJ extended the consent decree in 2020; pouring Gasoline on an already raging fire.
The truth behind how all this came together is Sweeter than Fiction but, Long Story Short, On October 19th, Sports Fans Coalition, in concert with American Economic Liberties Project, Fight Corporate Monopolies, More Perfect Union, Fan Freedom, the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumers League, and Artist Rights Alliance, launched a campaign calling for the break up of Ticketmaster. In just a few weeks, we had an impressive 12,000 fans sign our petition calling for the DOJ to break up Ticketmaster.
Cue Taylor Swift.
On November 15th, millions of Swifties who had verified fan presale codes logged on to Ticketmaster to try and get tickets for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour — or at least they tried to. However, the website crashed, leaving the screen a Blank Space and causing an even worse experience for fans than the normal buying process. What’s Crazier: following the problems, Ticketmaster then announced that they were canceling the general on-sale leaving millions of fans out in the cold. This chaos caused Swift's fans to seek something Better Than Revenge and sign our petition in droves — breaking 40,000 signatures in less than day.
Fearless lawmakers rushed to their aid. Led by Congressman Bill Pascrell (D NJ-9), a long-time Ticketmaster critic, dozens of Members of Congress called out Ticketmaster’s monopoly in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland. Senators Blumenthal and Klobuchar, also long-time critics of the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger, issued their own statements too.
Today my colleagues and I are calling on the Attorney General to investigate breaking up the Ticketmaster monopoly. pic.twitter.com/UeCJOdG5jk— Bill Pascrell, Jr. 🇺🇸🇺🇦 (@BillPascrell) November 18, 2022
Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, it’s merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 15, 2022
Break them up.
Swifties: If you’re angry & frustrated (as I am) about Ticketmaster’s monopoly, you have the power to demand action from public officials & federal agencies & to protect fans. We know all too well that what happened last week is not a glitch—change is necessary.— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) November 19, 2022
Ticketmaster is the story of a monopoly gone wild. They are a vertically integrated giant with Live Nation that can drive up prices and offer subpar service.— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) November 19, 2022
That’s why we will be holding a bipartisan hearing in the Senate on these issues so we can push for solutions. pic.twitter.com/r0R6MiaTcP
Years of advocacy and one ticketing catastrophe later resulted in the New York Times reporting, “Justice Dept. Is Said to Investigate Ticketmaster’s Parent Company” on Friday afternoon. Almost immediately, Live Nation’s stock price took a nosedive, closing the day 8.5% below its early afternoon peak – truly the definition of Champagne Problems.
Now, Everything Has Changed. This isn’t Vigilante Shit. The DOJ is closing in on this False God known as Ticketmaster. They can’t just Shake It Off. As advocates, it’s a long time coming and we call on the DOJ to swiftly provide Closure to the American public by breaking up Ticketmaster and Live Nation for good.