WASHINGTON D.C. (CelebrityAccess) — On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Live Nation’s Joe Berchtold over the Taylor Swift ticketing fiasco and Live Nation’s influence on the ticketing market at large.
The hearing’s witnesses included Live Nation President and Chief Financial Officer Joe Berchtold and Jam Production’s Jerry Michelson, as well as SeatGeek CEO Jack Groetzinger. Other witnesses include Sal Nuzzo, from the free-market focused James Madison Institute, and Kathleen Bradish, Vice President for Legal Advocacy of the American Antitrust Institute.
In his opening statement, Berchtold downplayed Live Nation’s scope and influence in the modern ticketing industry, stating that in 2009, the Department of Justice alleged that Ticketmaster’s percentage of the ticketing industry market share was over 80%. According to Berchtold, that market share has dwindled today amid the growth of secondary market sites, where Ticketmaster has only a modest market share, as well as the rise of competitors in the primary market.
Berchtold also pointed to the growth of the industry, which has quadrupled in size since the 2010 merger to be worth more than $12 billion today. Berchtold added that Live Nation played a major role in fueling this growth with multi-billion dollar investments in artist development and their ticketing platform.
As well, he took pains to note that Ticketmaster does not set ticket prices, that service and ticketing fees often go to venues and not Ticketmaster, and that pricing distribution strategies are developed by artist teams.
Berchtold also stated that Live Nation supports a number of potential changes to the ticketing industry, including legislation around ‘all-in’ pricing and stronger legislation, enforcement, and penalties for the use of bots.
Other witnesses testified to Ticketmaster’s influence in the live entertainment sector. Jam Production’s Jerry Michelson stated that since the merger, Jam Production has almost completely exited the arena events space due to competition from Ticketmaster.
“In 1996, Jam produced 100 concerts in arenas. In 2011, one year after the merger, that decreased to 46 concerts and in 2022, we only produced 14 arena concerts,” Michelson stated.
Michelson also stated that while Ticketmaster may not set ticket prices or collect service fees, their parent company, Live Nation often represents the “venue, promoter, and manager” of the artist.
During the hearing, lawmakers pressed Berchtold over several issues, which went beyond ticketing issues during Taylor Swift’s ‘Eras’ tour presale.
Republic senator Josh Hawley leveled particularly pointed criticism at Ticketmaster, describing the company as a monopoly and noting that use the power of their platform to influence even secondary market sales made on other platforms.
“You leverage market power in one market to get market power in another,” Hawley said.
Dick Blumenthal, (D-Connecticut) took exception to Berchtold laying blame on bots and scalpers.
“Ticketmaster had the temerity to imply that the debacle involved in pre-ticket sales was Taylor Swift’s fault because she was failing to do too many concerts. May I suggest respectfully that Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m the problem, it’s me.’”
Blumenthal went on to state that “unwinding the (Ticketmaster-Live Nation) merger ought to be on the table.”
Watch the full hearing here: