Ticketmaster is coming under greater scrutiny from politicians after its chaotic presales of tickets for Taylor Swift’s tour. Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said he is investigating whether Ticketmaster violated consumer rights and antitrust regulations. Skrmetti is the latest politician to draw attention to Ticketmaster and Live Nation’s stranglehold on the ticketing market.
It comes as Ticketmaster has canceled public sales for Swift’s tour, called Eras. In a TweeterTicketmaster said the cancellation was due to “extraordinarily high demands on the ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet this demand.”
The public sale was reportedly for remaining tickets from the site’s troubled presales, which began on Tuesday for members of its Verified Fan program. Many fans experienced technical issues and hour-long wait times, and many were ultimately unable to purchase a ticket.
According to the New York Times, Ticketmaster said in a now-deleted article that 3.5 million people signed up for the Verified Fan program. About 1.5 million received a special access code and the rest were put on a waiting list. “Never before has a verified fan garnered this much attention or uninvited volume,” Ticketmaster said.
Skrmetti said he received complaints from fans who tried to buy Eras tickets. In a Tweeter On Thursday, the attorney general said other state attorneys general are also looking into the matter: “Ticketmaster’s decision to cancel sales underscores the important need for accountability. Fans deserve a fair chance to buy a ticket. I am encouraged by other state AGs who are also taking this issue seriously.
The Washington Post reports that Skrmetti said Ticketmaster should have been better prepared for the high demand and wondered if “because they have such a dominant position in the market, they felt like they didn’t have to s ‘care about it’.
In another tweet before the sale was canceled, the attorney general’s office said Skrmetti “is concerned about consumer complaints related to @Ticketmaster’s pre-sale of @taylorswift13 concert tickets. He and his consumer protection team will use all tools available to ensure that no consumer protection laws have been violated.
TechCrunch has reached out to Ticketmaster and Skrmetti’s office for comment.
Eras is Swift’s first tour in four years and comes after the release of her new album “Midnights”.
Other politicians who have raised concerns about the combined company of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, which merged in 2010, include Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. David N. Cicilline, and Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr.
On Tuesday, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet Tuesday that “Ticketmaster is a monopoly, its merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they needed to be brought under control. Break them up.”
Cicilline Representative tweeted Wednesday that “Ticketmaster’s excessive wait times and fees are totally unacceptable, as seen with today’s @taylorswift13 tickets, and are a symptom of a larger problem. It’s no secret that Live Nation-Ticketmaster is an unchecked monopoly.
And Rep. Pascrell, Jr., who was among the millions of fans put on the waiting list for Swift tickets, tweeted that Ticketmaster “The Ticketmaster-Live Nation monopoly should never have been allowed to merge and must be broken.”
Consumers are also pushing for a separation from Ticketmaster and Live Nation. An alliance of consumer rights groups, including antitrust group American Economic Liberties Project, launched a campaign called Break Up Ticketmaster last month, claiming that “Ticketmaster’s market power over live events is scamming sports and music fans and undermines the vibrancy and independence of the music industry.”