'Abusing its market position': Klobuchar, AOC rip Ticketmaster 'monopoly' following Taylor Swift ticket debacle

'Abusing its market position': Klobuchar, AOC rip Ticketmaster 'monopoly' following Taylor Swift ticket debacle
Taylor Swift in Australia in 2012 (Wikimedia Commons)

On Tuesday, November 15, fans of pop star Taylor Swift were furious with Ticketmaster when ticket sales for forthcoming tour dates went on sale and the company’s website appeared to crash during the purchasing process. Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar was quick to speak out about that debacle, sending Ticketmaster CEO Michael Rapino a strongly worded open letter that was highly critical of the company’s practices.

The need for competition is one of the fundamentals of free-market capitalism, and Klobuchar complained that Ticketmaster “continues to abuse its market positions” by imposing high fees and engaging in the practices of a monopoly.

“Ticketmaster’s power in the primary ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically push companies to innovate and improve their services,” Klobuchar told Rapino in her November 16 letter. “That can result in the types of dramatic service failures we saw this week, where consumers are the ones that pay the price.”

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In 2010, Ticketmaster merged with another major company: Live Nation. At the time, critics of the merger warned that like so many corporate megamergers — from banks to airlines — the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger would be terrible for consumers. And Klobuchar brought up that merger in her letter to Rapino.

Klobuchar told Rapino, “When Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation in 2010, it was subject to an antitrust consent decree that prohibited it from abusing its market position. Nonetheless, there have been numerous complaints about your company’s compliance with that decree.”

Klobuchar isn’t the only well-known Democrat who has been lambasting Ticketmaster. On November 15, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City tweeted, “Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, it’s merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in. Break them up.”

That same day, Rep. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island tweeted, “@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 that Live Nation-Ticketmaster is an unchecked monopoly.”

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CNN reporter Jordan Valinsky notes that critics of Ticketmaster were calling it a “monopoly” long before the 2010 merger. Back in 1994, members of the Seattle grunge rock band Pearl Jam filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division and argued that Ticketmaster had a “virtually absolute monopoly on the distribution of tickets to concerts.”

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