Sen. Amy Klobuchar slams Ticketmaster: ‘serious concerns’ about lack of competition

I haven’t tried to get concert tickets for a super popular artist in years, but Taylor Swift fans have had a terrible time of it this week. Next year, she’s touring for the first time since 2018 and it’s been nearly impossible for fans to get tickets due to issues with Ticketmaster. The pre-sale, with Ticketmaster’s “Verified Fans” category and various other entry points, was a such a fustercluck that last night Ticketmaster canceled today’s public sale, saying there weren’t enough tickets left. Poor Swifty fans. Just before the public sale was canceled, Senator Amy Klobuchar wrote a letter to Ticketmaster stating her concern about the lack of competition in the ticket sales industry and the negative impact that has on customers.

In the wake of widespread problems around Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen tour on-sales, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, has written a letter to Ticketmaster raising concern about the lack of competition in the ticketing industry and the service it provides to consumers.

Widespread complaints about astronomical prices, long wait times and crashing computer servers plagued the first day of ticket sales for Swift’s 2023 tour on Tuesday, further rocking an industry that has been saddled with accusations of problematic business practices for many years. Ticketmaster, which is by far the dominant ticketing business in the country, has been particularly criticized.

“I write to express serious concerns about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its harmful impact on consumers. Reports about system failures, increasing fees, and complaints of conduct that violate the consent decree Ticketmaster is under suggest that Ticketmaster continues to abuse its market positions,” Klobuchar (D-Mn.) wrote to Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation.

“Ticketmaster’s power in the primary ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically push companies to innovate and improve their services. That can result in the types of dramatic service failures we saw this week, where consumers are the ones that pay the price,” Klobuchar’s letter continued.

But Klobuchar’s chair position and history with the live entertainment industry bring a new element to the situation. She was a key leader in the “Save Our Stages” campaign that brought $16 billion in federal pandemic relief to independent music venues and theaters, and in April 2020, she and Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) urged the Department of Justice Antitrust Division to take action to ensure small and independent venues can compete on a level playing field in the live entertainment marketplace.

[From Variety]

Senator Klobuchar’s letter was published in its entirety in the Variety article. And there are no lies detected there. Ticketmaster has been a total racket for years, probably since it merged with Live Nation back in 2010. The fees are insane, tickets are bought up and resold for even higher prices so fast, it’s basically a huge problem. And even as just an occasional concertgoer, I’ve received over the years random credits and discounts due to class action suits that others have pursued. Like, why has there ever been a “processing fee” and “service charge” and they’re higher than ever even though everything is online and paper tickets have been phased out? To fleece the customers, that’s why. The lack of competition has just allowed Ticketmaster to get bigger and more expensive without making any improvements because they’re the only option. The article also notes that a couple of years ago Senators Klobuchar and Blumenthal “called on the DOJ Antitrust Division to investigate the state of competition in the ticketing marketplace, given news reports that Ticketmaster-Live Nation was not adhering to the conditions of the antitrust consent decree governing its merger.” Sounds like continuing or another investigation is in order.

Embed from Getty Images

Photos credit: Backgrid, Getty and Instagram via

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

55 Responses to “Sen. Amy Klobuchar slams Ticketmaster: ‘serious concerns’ about lack of competition”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Enny says:

    This is all very serious, and worth discussing, but on a purely snarky note, what in the duck footed hell is going on in that lower picture of Taylor???

    • Aevajohnson says:

      They managed to snap a photo while she was in the middle of repositioning herself on the red carpet. There are plenty of other photos from the EMA’s where she looked good so not sure why this one weird picture keeps being used for things.

    • Allegra says:

      Pigeon-toed *

    • Lux says:

      I guffawed..! That setup, @Enny, is pure gold.

      Taytay has that inimitable quality where she can wear the sexiest outfit ever and still look like the most wholesome girl in church. Really can’t put my finger on why. I say this as one who is, with her last three albums, becoming a reluctant fan.

  2. smegmoria says:

    I remember waiting outside the Castnor Knott for Ticketmaster. .Of course, that was the early 90s, when tickets were like $25.

  3. Flowerlake says:

    Scalpers (people who buy only to sell on for a higher price) are a huge problem.

    With the high demand for BTS concert tickets, fans that unexpectedly couldn’t make it, but wanted to sell them for the normal price to a real fellow-fan, often asked potential buyers a bunch of questions and/or checked their social media to avoid selling it to scalpers.

    There should be laws in place to prevent those parasites from making tickers unbelievably expensive for real fans.

    • Snuffles says:

      Speaking of BTS and Big Hit/HYBE, I swear I read that they were also going to use Weverse for ticketing in the future for their acts. It will be fascinating to see how that works.

      • Flowerlake says:

        I hope that they do good research so they’re well prepared, but anything is better than Ticketmaster at this point.

        I think some tickets were listed for more than 10k at their stadium tours. That’s just sad for fans who really want to see them but can only afford normal prices.

    • DK says:

      Also speaking of BTS and scalpers, plenty of fans were able to demonstrate that Ticketmaster’s own bots were buying the tickets at regular price and scalping them through Ticketmaster’s resale feature – so essentially, Ticketmaster was selling seats to itself, and then re-selling at exorbitant prices.

      So not only are they a scam in the first place, with huge “fees” and a crap product (as the ostensible sole experts in this field, they should be well equipped for concerts with the interest level that Taylor Swift, BTS and other mega-stars generate, and there is no excuse for this breaking-the-system garbage every. single. time. a major artist/group goes on tour), they then double-dip and scam both the fans (who are willing to pay their huge resale ticket prices for a chance to see their idols), but also the artists (it’s not like Taylor or BTS get any extra money when Ticketmaster bots turn around and sell floor seats for $5,000 – $10,000 a pop).

      I have no doubt that if Hybe starts running its own ticketing, they will do the research and figure out a way to do it right – and I hope it brings about the downfall of Ticketmaster, if Amy Klobuchar doesn’t get there first!

    • aang says:

      We had 4 tix and needed one more for the BTS LA show and thought if we waited until the last minute prices would go down. 30 minutes before the concert nose bleeds were still going for $500, more than the 100 level seats we bought in the pre-sale. We bought it. I spent $900 each for TXT tickets that had a face value of $300. With the fees they were like $1200 each. I know I’m part of the problem but it is almost impossible to get tickets to some of these shows. Reselling for more than face value should just be outright illegal.

  4. D says:

    Mom of a Swifty over here and I agreed to try to get tickets on Tuesday with our code that we got because my daughter had bought an overpriced Taylor Nation sweatshirt earlier in the year. Well 4 hours after first logging on I just gave up. I told my daughter we would try again for the main sale but of course they had to cancel it. While I was waiting on the online “queue” I kept checking StubHub and wouldn’t you know it, lots of tickets available there for thousands of dollars, in real time as the “fan” sale was still going on. I’m convinced someone hacked in and bought all the tickets (hence the tech issues) or Ticketmaster just gave a backdoor to all of the scalpers who then just resell on StubHub, which I think Ticketmaster may have a stake in. It’s a total racket.

    • Twin Falls says:

      I was online on Tuesday for only 45 minutes before all the tickets were gone at my arena. I’d have two in my cart, go to checkout, it would spin, then say sorry a different fan purchased those try again. Rinse and repeat until they sold out.

      • D says:

        After 4 hours I finally got to a place where I could pick seats but any seat I picked would then say “sorry, this seat is sold”…and on and on it went. I used to get annoyed when I had to call in the 90s and it would be a busy signal, but this was on another level.

    • Aevajohnson says:

      Many many of the tickets you see at huge mark-ups on Stubhub, Vivid Seats, etc. are “speculative” tickets and were already listed on their website several weeks before tickets were available for sale. Scalpers post tickets assuming they’ll get them but that’s not always the case so many of these tickets will end up being refunded to purchasers.

      Hot tip- There is a resale thread currently happening in the Taylor Swift Subreddit- people on there want to sell to other fans and will likely offer face or only slightly above. These were people who got presale codes for dates or venues they won’t be able to attend. You can also post ISO for the show you’re looking for.
      If you don’t find anything going that route my advice is to look for tickets closer to the show. when some of the insanity dies down.

      I was able to get my ticket during the pre-sale. It took me four and a half hours, but thankfully I didn’t have any issues beyond the long wait so I consider myself extremely lucky.

    • DK says:

      I just commented similarly above, but there seems to be pretty strong evidence that it’s not Ticketmaster getting hacked by scalpers (I mean, that may be part of it, surely there are outside scalpers working this too) – it’s Ticketmaster’s own scalp bots buying up tickets and then reselling them through Ticketmaster – which means Ticketmaster gets the increased profit from the scalped prices.

      At this point, it’s a feature of Ticketmaster, not a bug.

      • Aevajohnson says:

        Yup. Ticket Master could absolutely improve the way they run things but they don’t because it benefits them.

    • mauve says:

      At this point, I’m pretty convinced the code is coming from inside the house. I suspect that years ago Ticketmaster added some coding for kickbacks, probably without informing the whole team, and what we’re witnessing today is the jamming at points of code incompatibility. Thus the time issues as well. And the millions of good people watching in real-time is revealing all this.

  5. Becks1 says:

    It’s a really big problem. Springsteen did this for his upcoming tour – you had to have a code to even have a chance of becoming an eligible buyer for the presale, before you even got into the presale itself, or something like that. My husband took care of it lol so I wasn’t paying that much attention, but it was a big pain and there were a few stages to getting the tickets.

    In theory the whole eligible buyer or whatever its called is supposed to cut back on scalping, but I think we all know that does not work.

    The resale market is a problem, the service fees etc are huge problems – my husband’s work used to have a concierge service where we could get tickets for things like broadway shows that were in town and while the tickets were usually more expensive bc they were good seats, there were no added fees bc it was through the concierge and not ticketmaster. So if they said it was 2 tickets for 300 total, that’s what it was. (this went away during the pandemic and has not come back, but what a nice perk it was lol.)

    I’m not sure what the answer is but Ticketmaster has been a problem long before 2010. Remember Pearl Jam and their fight with it??

    • LightPurple says:

      I had the pre-sale code for Springsteen. I went on, as directed, at 10 minutes before sale time. At sale time, I received a notice that there were 500 people ahead of me. Ten minutes later, it was my turn, except every available seat I clicked on was gone before I finished the purchase. And then, out of curiosity, I stayed on and watched as seats that weren’t available became available again. I tracked several rows of seats and watched as the new “available price” was double what it had been with each refresh of the page. The first seats I tried for went from $120 each to $2,000 in the space of 5 minutes. Needless to say, I bought no tickets.

    • Kara says:

      Yeah, Eddie Vedder called it long ago.

    • liz says:

      I didn’t get a pre-sale code for Springsteen, but managed to get tickets to one of the few venues that doesn’t use Ticketmaster for ticket sales/distribution (Barclays). I went through Seat Geek for those tickets and it was a cleaner and easier process (but still way overpriced). I prefer Madison Square Garden, mostly because it is so much closer to home for me (20 minutes by subway vs. over an hour each way), but I will go to Barclays anyway.

      That is a major part of the problem with TM – they hold the contracts with the individual venues – if an artist wants to perform at the Garden, the tickets have to go through Ticketbastard.

    • Emmi says:

      HOW is any of that legal?

      I know this isn’t the final answer but off the top of my head, why not make people who resell too often purchase personalized tickets? It’s a system sometimes used for the World Cup. Or always, not sure. You also can’t buy 20 tickets.

  6. SomeChick says:

    The reason they have processing fees and service charges is because they don’t have to cut in the artists on those. Only the ticket price. So they are screwing the artists as well as the fans!

    The music industry is horrible and Ticketbastard has gotten worse and worse over the years.

  7. Louise177 says:

    I don’t understand how there’s no tickets. Isn’t presales supposed to be limited?

    • SH says:

      There’s more demand than tickets available. She doubled the number of shows to try and meet demand as much as possible, but 500 million more people registered for the pre-sale than their were tickets available on the whole tour. So they only let 1.5 million of the 3.5 million into the pre-sale, but ticket master screwed up and based that 1.5 million invites on the average tour where a lot of people invited to the pre-sale don’t actually buy tickets, rather than assuming everyone invited us actually good to buy tickets because it is the highest demand tour in recent memory. Because the demand was so high there were also normal people buying tickets to try and re-sell them for a profit themselves in addition to scalpers being highly motivated to get ahold of tickets due to he demand.

      And at the end of the day she has 3 million tickets to sell and way more than 3 million people that want tickets, especially with people who were able to get tickets going to multiple shows. Not everyone who wants to is going to be able to go to this tour.

  8. LightPurple says:

    I recently filed a complaint against Ticketmaster with our AG’s office. I included the problem with Springsteen tickets I mention above but also a more recent incident when a show we had tickets for was moved to a smaller venue. We had great SEATS in the first venue but the re-issued tickets for the smaller venue didn’t appear on the venue’s map and were marked with SRO. I had a broken ankle and my friend was on crutches after foot surgery. I contacted Ticketmaster immediately to ascertain where these tickets were, if SRO meant what I thought it meant, and if we could get an ADA accommodation for my friend – I even pointed out that the accessible seats weren’t sold. It took a week and 5 levels of people before anyone acknowledged that we no longer had seats and were standing on the top level of the venue in back. Then was told we couldn’t have the accessible seats, which were still available, and that, sure, she could get me seats, if I would just agree to release our tickets and maybe she could find actual seats for us (no guarantee but we definitely had to give up our tickets) and would I just agree to let her charge whatever she found (resales were now at 5 times original price) to my card. BAIT & SWITCH. Told my sister who knows the venue manager. We saw the show from seats 10th row center.

  9. Ktae says:

    I had verified presale, for TS and I actually got in and was able to buy. Most expensive tickets I’ve ever bought. I feel so lucky to have made it through. And now watching the resale, those same tickets are going for triple what I paid.

    Ticketmaster was awful, and I feel so bad for actual fans that couldn’t get in.

  10. SamC says:

    TicketMaster was awful when I was growing up; Live Nation was an ok alternative for awhile. With the merger, does seem an anti-trust suit or investigation is needed but also imagine TM has a strong lobbying contingent so question if it would get anywhere, at least in Congress.

    However the meltdowns over this…you’d think it was the absolute worst catastrophic event in history. I get it with kids/teens, and totally understand the anger but the number of adults sobbing, etc on social media because they might not see Taylor?!

    • SusieQ says:

      I know…the epic meltdowns from adults is a bit much. I will fully admit to being slightly disappointed that I didn’t get a presale code because I was interested in going with one of my stepdaughters.

      I haven’t been to a big concert in years, and much of that has to do with Ticketmaster. The last concert I went to was Gregory Alan Isakov in 2019, and that was at a small venue near my home. I bought the tickets through the venue, and $50 got me a front-row seat. It was fantastic.

      • SamC says:

        My last concert experience was similar, Rickie Lee Jones at a small venue in Mass.

        Last really big one was Elton John at MSG and only because, at the time, my mother worked for an exec of the company that owns it.

  11. AmelieOriginal says:

    I’m going to a concert to see Stromae at Madison Square Garden on Monday and had to buy the tickets through Ticketmaster. Luckily he isn’t a super popular artist in the US because he sings in French but he has enough of a following that MSG will be pretty full. I didn’t have any issues buying tickets through Ticketmaster but if he ever comes a third time (this will be my second time seeing him at MSG), I may not be able to buy tickets (he is very popular in Europe and sells out arenas). I don’t see how I’ll ever be able to see a popular US artist ever again if I wanted to like Taylor Swift or Beyonce.

  12. Ann says:

    The tickets for Taylor are so insanely expensive. I really want to take my niece and it would be her first concert. I’m a child free auntie who doesn’t mind spending some money but I’m not spending what will likely be over 2k for terrible seats. Ticketmaster can get F’ed and then some. We just want to go to a frigging concert, it shouldn’t cost as much as a vacation to do that.

  13. Concern Fae says:

    Ticketmaster has been terrible since we were camping outside Tower Records for tickets.

    Honestly, if they broke the consent decree with the Taylor sale, the whole thing should be cancelled and redone following the correct procedures. They should have a level of tickets where you need to show the purchasing credit card at the arena when you arrive and only one shows worth of tickets per card.

  14. Watson says:

    Where is Taylor in all of this? Has she said anything? Cause if i was a super fan willing to pay for the tickets, the re-releases, the vinyls, the clocks etc I’d be LIVID.

    • Christy says:

      My daughter and her friends don’t blame Taylor at all. It’s Ticketmaster.

    • Case says:

      Taylor finally commented on it. Many of her fans are livid at the whole situation and do hold her partially responsible, because she is.

    • Christine says:

      How is she responsible? Venues have exclusive partnerships with Ticketmaster. This is all on them and the monopoly they were allowed to create.

      • Emily says:

        Taylor opted into dynamic pricing, which was driving prices up in real time. Artists like Ed Sheeran have opted out and even recalled tickets being sold by scalpers. Taylor is big enough to do the same.

  15. Riley says:

    I spent over 8 hours in the Ticketmaster queue for Taylor tickets on Tuesday. It was “paused” for my show for about 3 hours, then there were around 19,000 people in line ahead of me. Once I finally got to the purchase screen and went through, I clicked “buy” only for it to error out and kick me back to the queue. Luckily, I was still in line for the show for the other night in my city, and was able to get tickets there after waiting all day. For 6 tickets I paid almost $2,200. It was insane and Ticketmaster can kiss my a$$. The ONLY reason I stuck it out is because I have never seen Taylor and my boyfriend and I really wanted to go.

  16. lucretias says:

    Hot take here. But I read an article in a music magazine no less that basically said TM was the scape goat for venues and artists and THEY were the real villains. That TM took the hit so they could get their share, but prices are really a product of what the artists/music industry. Sorry not sorry, but who sell multiple covers of the same album encouraging you to buy them all or encourages you to also get a vinyl when buying your tix. I hear crickets from most artists regarding TM and pricing (except for Eddie Vedder in the 90’s) I’m just not buying that the music industry and venues are being held hostage by TM. Don’t get me wrong TM is no innocent victim. Don’t get it twisted. They happily price gouge for their customers and take their cut. But the key point is that the music industry and artist are THEIR customers and the service they provide is being the villain while the and the performers/music industry/venues laugh all the way to the bank. And as long as we keep submitting to their draconian behaviors nothing is going to change.

    • ConcernFae says:

      The record industry is terrible and corrupt, so the artists have to make their money from touring. This gives Ticketmaster cover for all the indefensible things they do to make money for themselves on top of what the artists are making.

      Not a hater, but I truly side-eye all the multiple covers and release day merch TS sells. I know there are fans who want it, but there are also fans who spend money that should be going towards themselves and putting it into her pocket.

      Billboard really needs to crack down on this variant covers thing. The issue is that they all count towards sales, so people buying multiple copies guarantees an artist will make sales records. It’s deeply shitty all around.

  17. Sean says:

    What I’m curious about, with so many fans being unable to purchase tickets, what will the actual audiences be at the concerts?

    Will Bruce and Taylor be performing to mostly empty arenas/stadiums?

    • sevenblue says:

      I read that on Reputation tour, on some instances, a big chunk of the stadium was empty even though tickets were all sold out. When Taylor’s team noticed how it looked, they tried to give free tickets to fans since it looked bad.

  18. SpankyB says:

    Wow. Is the hassle even worth going to concerts anymore? I remember when you could walk up to the venue, buy your ticket for $15, no fees, and enjoy the show in good seats. Yes, I’m old.

    And to show how old I am, in my teens I had a similar outfit as that first photo. I love it. And my aunt had those curtains.

  19. Nick$ says:

    Ticketmaster has been sham & monopoly since I was 13 years old. Please, ticketmaster, et. al. (Birdfarce, Faceplace- meta-nauseated if you are 60% of our population, etc.) we don’t all want to hang out overnight at a strip mall to get tickets to our favorite artists. In fact, it’s a recipe for pervs. But I’m 50+ and worked in entertainment (Music, etc.) for at least 8 years.

  20. NMB says:

    I’m just here to say how much I love Amy K.

  21. Deering24 says:

    Ugh, Tickermaster’s insane fees are one of the main reasons I haven’t seen a Broadway show in a while.

  22. Jessica says:

    Almost every single article about this debacle has misinformation in it, it’s crazy. The problem wasn’t bots or even really scalpers, and while some fans probably did buy extra to try and sell at a markup, I doubt it was as widespread as people assume. TM sent out like 1.5 million presale codes and only expected 40% to purchase. Their website had 14 million hits during the presale. Couldn’t get in the queue without a code, and limit was 6 tickets per code. They vastly miscalculated how much interest there was, which was dumb because they controlled the codes. There were dumb, preventable issues with the codes, and they should have beefed up capabilities of their servers/websites. No dynamic pricing either, just the insane TM fees. It’s TM’s fault this was such a shitshow. I spent 9 hours trying to get tix on presale, and did, then my sister got tix in 20 mins during cap one presale. the stadiums will be packed, no doubt about that.

  23. The Recluse says:

    This is why I appreciate the Pearl Jam Fan Club: they make tickets available to their fans first, strict number, set cost, so that they can actually get to see them.

    • Leanne says:

      That’s how I got great tickets to U2 during the Elevation Tour- just had to join the fan club. Not sure how they do it now.

  24. Jessica says:

    The artist has the power to not allow resale of tickets through Ticketmaster but Taylor allows it because it ultimately makes her more money….

  25. Sue E Generis says:

    Can someone explain to me why this is an issue at all? This is a purely discretionary good and the rare issue that can be fixed by the free market. Stop buying concert tickets for a couple months and scalpers and ticketmaster will stop gouging. People don’t have to buy concert tickets.