Senators Quote Taylor Swift Lyrics During Ticketmaster Hearing
Executives from Live Nation and Ticketmaster were grilled during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday. The hearing, which was called “That’s The Ticket: Promoting Competition And Protecting Consumers In Live Entertainment,” was organized by Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Richard Blumenthal following the debacle surrounding the sale of Taylor Swift tour tickets this past fall.
Senators brought up Swift numerous times during the hearing, and many even made references to her lyrics. “To have a strong capitalist system, you have to have competition,” Klobuchar said in her opening statement. “You can’t have too much consolidation — something that, unfortunately for this country, as an ode to Taylor Swift, I will say, we know ‘all too well.'”
Blumenthal said in his remarks that “Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror, and say, ‘I’m the problem, it’s me,” a reference to Swift’s most recent chart-topper “Anti-Hero.” Senator Mike Lee quoted a lyric from “Blank Space,” saying that limiting ticket transfers to avoid reselling was “a nightmare dressed like a daydream.” And Lee ended his speech with: “I have to throw out, in deference to my daughter Eliza, one more Taylor Swift quote: ‘Karma is a relaxing thought, aren’t you envious for you it’s not?'”
Sal Nuzzo, the senior vice president of think tank The James Madison Institute, also got in on the quotes: “A few million Taylor Swift fans would respond: ‘This is why we can’t have nice things,'” the title of a track off Reputation.
The criticism from Senators on Tuesday revolved largely around Ticketmaster’s apparent inability to prevent bots from both buying tickets and overwhelming their website, which crashed when Swift’s tour tickets went on sale in November. They also questioned whether or not Ticketmaster and Live Nation, which merged in 2010, stifled competition in the marketplace. “This is all the definition of monopoly,” Klobuchar said during her statement. “Because if Live Nation is so powerful that it doesn’t even need to exert pressure. It doesn’t need to threaten. Because people just fall in line.”
Politicians from both sides of the aisle rallied against Live Nation and Ticketmaster. When addressing Joe Berchtold, the president and CFO of Live Nation Entertainment, Blumenthal stated: “Mr. Berchtold, I want to congratulate and thank you for an absolutely stunning achievement: You have brought together Republicans and Democrats in an absolutely unified cause.”
“We apologize to the fans, we apologize to Ms. Swift, we need to do better and we will do better,” Berchtold told the committee. “In hindsight there are several things we could have done better – including staggering the sales over a longer period of time and doing a better job setting fan expectations for getting tickets.”
Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn, who Swift once helped campaign against, called Live Nation’s bot problem “unbelievable,” adding: “You ought to be able to get some good advice from people and figure it out.”
Jack Groetzinger, the CEO of SeatGeek (a Ticketmaster competitor) testified during the hearing that Live Nation and Ticketmaster should be broken up. “As long as Live Nation remains both the dominant concert promoter and ticketer of major venues in the U.S., the industry will continue to lack competition and struggle.”
A handful of protestors gathered outside the US Capitol building while the hearing took place on Tuesday, holding up signs with even more Swift references.