The New York Times is reporting that the United States Justice Department has opened an investigation into Live Nation, the company that owns Ticketmaster. They’re investigating whether or not Live Nation has abused its power over the live music industry. This comes following the debacle around Taylor Swift's ticket pre-sale yesterday.
The Times reports that members of the antitrust division’s staff at the Justice Department have contacted music venues, asking about Live Nation’s practices. This is the latest scrutiny of Live Nation Entertainment. Live Nation is a product of the merger between the concert promoter Live Nation and Ticketmaster. The Justice Department approved the merger in 2010. Part of the terms of the deal were that Live Nation could not threaten concert venues if they used ticket agents other than Ticketmaster. That clause was set to expire in 2020.
However, in 2019, the Justice Department found that Live Nation repeatedly violated this clause. They then extended the terms of that rule through 2025. Apparently now members of the Justice Department are questioning whether the company is complying.
A blog post by Ticketmaster claimed that 3.5 million fans registered for pre-sale tickets for Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated tour through Ticketmaster’s “Verified Fan” system. They “invited” 1.5 million of those customers to the presale by sending them codes. The remaining two million were placed on a waiting list. That blog post was published on Thursday but Ticketmaster soon deleted it.
Apparently, the 3.5 billion system requests caused its app to crash for many users. Some of them were actually in the process of buying tickets with their codes when it happened. So they were unable to complete their transactions. According to Ticketmaster, two million tickets were sold on Tuesday alone. There was also Capital One cardholders presale held on Wednesday. By Thursday, Ticketmaster announced that they canceled Friday’s public onsale. It’s unclear how many, if any, tickets have not been sold.
On Friday, Swift publicly criticized Ticketmaster on her Instagram account, saying, “There are a multitude of reasons why people had such a hard time trying to get tickets and I’m trying to figure out how this situation can be improved moving forward. I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could. It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.”
It’s worth noting that, according to speculation, there are other highly anticipated tours set to be announced in the coming months by both Rihanna and Beyonce.