US senators questioned Ticketmaster on Tuesday over its dominance in promoting events after its spectacular meltdown during ticket sales for a Taylor Swift concert last year.
Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic senator from Minnesota, recalled going to concerts by Led Zeppelin, The Cars and Aerosmith with friends in high school. Ticket prices and commissions are so high these days that shows are too expensive for many fans.
According to Klobuchar, ticket commissions are currently 27% of the ticket price, and can be as high as 75%. The senator said that Ticketmaster’s dominance in the market means it faces little pressure to innovate and improve.
“In order to have a strong capitalist system, there has to be competition,” Klobuchar said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Ticketmaster is the world’s leading ticketing company, processing 500 million tickets each year in more than 30 countries.
About 70% of tickets for the biggest concerts in the United States are sold through Ticketmaster, according to data from a federal lawsuit filed by a consumer group last year.
In mid-November, the Ticketmaster site crashed during a pre-sale for Swift’s upcoming tour. The company said its site was overwhelmed by both fans and bot attacks. Many people lost their tickets after waiting for hours in a virtual waiting line.
Ticketmaster asked fans to register for pre-sale, and more than 3.5 million people did, setting a record for the company.
In the end, the company canceled the planned sale of tickets to the general public because it did not have enough seats.
In 2010, Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation, a Beverly Hills, California-based entertainment company that produces live shows, festivals, and concert tours.
Live Nation President and Chief Financial Officer Joe Berchtold apologized Tuesday to fans and to Tylor Swift herself, saying the company knows it needs to do better.