Senator Amy Klobuchar slammed Ticketmaster in an open letter to its CEO, saying she had “serious concerns” about the company’s operations following a Tuesday service outage that left Taylor Swift fans furious.
In the letter to CEO Michael Rapino, the Minnesota Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights, wrote that complaints from Swift fans unable to buy tickets for its upcoming tour, in addition to criticism over high fees, suggests the company “continues to abuse its market positions”.
“Ticketmaster’s strength in the core ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically drive companies to innovate and improve their services. This can lead to the kinds of dramatic service outages we’ve seen this week, where consumers are the ones paying the price,” Klobuchar wrote.
Ticketmaster and Live Nation, the nation’s largest concert promoter, merged about a decade ago. Klobuchar noted that the company then committed to “developing a single, easy-to-access platform” for ticket delivery. On Thursday, the senator told Rapino it “seems like your trust was misplaced.”
“When Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation in 2010, it was subject to an antitrust consent decree that prohibited it from abusing its market position,” Klobuchar wrote. “Nevertheless, there have been numerous complaints about your company’s compliance with this decree.”
The letter includes a list of questions for Rapino to answer by next week. Ticketmaster did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN Business.
On Tuesday, the company said “there has been historically unprecedented demand with millions of people” to purchase tickets for Swift’s tour and thanked fans for their “patience.”
Klobuchar is the latest high-profile politician to openly criticize Ticketmaster for the ticketing disaster that has left bad blood between Swift fans and the company.
“@Ticketmaster’s excessive wait times and fees are completely unacceptable, as seen with today’s @taylorswift13 tickets, and are a symptom of a larger problem. It’s no secret to no one that Live Nation-Ticketmaster is an unchecked monopoly,” Rep. David Cicilline, currently chair of the antitrust subcommittee, tweeted on Tuesday.
“Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, its merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be brought under control,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
Complaints about the company’s monopoly power date back long before Tuesday’s ticket issues, when the platform appeared to crash or freeze during pre-sale purchases for Swift’s latest tour.
In 1994, when Taylor Swift was just four years old and that ticket lines were in person or over the phone, not online, rock band Pearl Jam filed a lawsuit with the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division claiming that Ticketmaster had an “almost absolute monopoly on the distribution of tickets for concerts”. He tried to book his tour only at venues that didn’t use Ticketmaster.
The Justice Department and numerous state attorneys general have filed similar complaints over the years.
Despite these concerns, Ticketmaster continued to become more dominant. Pearl Jam’s complaint was quietly dismissed. The Justice Department and the states cleared the Live Nation Ticketmaster merger despite a 2010 court filing in the case raising objections to the merger. In the filing, the Justice Department said Ticketmaster’s share among major concert venues exceeded 80%.
– Chris Isidore of CNN Business contributed to this report.