Live Nation Entertainment issued a lengthy response in defense of ticket distribution company Ticketmaster following the breakdown of the site around ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s upcoming The Eras Tour in 2023. The statement comes after Live Nation, the parent company of Ticketmaster, stocks dropped eight percent, closing at $66.21, in trading on Nov. 18.
“Ticketmaster has a significant share of the primary ticketing services market because of the large gap that exists between the quality of the Ticketmaster system and the next best primary ticketing system,” read a portion of the Live Nation statement (see full statement below). “The market is increasingly competitive nonetheless, with rivals making aggressive offers to venues. That Ticketmaster continues to be the leader in such an environment is a testament to the platform and those who operate it, not to any anticompetitive business practices.”
The entertainment company called Ticketmaster “the most transparent and fan-friendly,” and pointed out their investments in technology, and how it has made app-based ticket purchasing the norm.
“Five years ago tickets were paper,” continued the statement. “Now you scan in with your phone and can transfer tickets to your friend with one tap. We innovate and invest in our technology more than any other ticketing company, and we will continue to do so.”
On Nov. 15, the Ticketmaster site experienced significant delays when 14 million people logged on to purchase pre-sale tickets for The Eras Tour. Millions of users were left on delayed ticketing queues with some forced to leave the “line” and start the purchasing process all over again. At one point, the page for Eras tickets appeared to have shut down completely due to the overwhelming demand. By the end of the initial sale, 2.4 million fans were able to purchase tickets before Ticketmaster cancelled any further ongoing ticket sales to the public due to extreme demand.
Ticketmaster also posted a lengthy explanation of what occurred during the recent crash around ticket sales. “Historically, we’ve been able to manage huge volume coming into the site to shop for tickets, so those with Verified Fan codes have a smooth shopping process,” read a portion of the Ticketmaster statement. “However, this time the staggering number of bot attacks, as well as fans who didn’t have codes, drove unprecedented traffic on our site, resulting in 3.5 billion total system requests—four times our previous peak.”
The statement continued, “We’re working to shore up our tech for the new bar that has been set by demand for the Taylor Swift The Eras Tour. Once we get through that, if there are any next steps, updates will be shared accordingly.”
Without specifically naming Live Nation or Ticketmaster, Swift shared her distress over the situation with fans on social media.
“It’s really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties, and excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse,” wrote Swift. “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.”
Ticketmaster has long been criticized for its business practices and exorbitant ticket prices in addition to high service fees. The crash around the Taylor Swift concert tickets comes as the Justice Department was in the process of investigating the dominance Live Nation has over the live music and ticket market.
Swift recently added 17 more dates to the Eras Tour in support of her tenth album, Midnights, released on Oct. 21. Her tour will feature guests Paramore, HAIM, Phoebe Bridgers, MUNA, beabadoobee, and a number of other artists. The U.S. leg of 2023 The Eras Tour kicks off on March 18 at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, and concludes Aug. 9 at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
Read Live Nation’s full statement below:
As we have stated many times in the past, Live Nation takes its responsibilities under the antitrust laws seriously and does not engage in behaviors that could justify antitrust litigation, let alone orders that would require it to alter fundamental business practices.
The concert promotion business is highly competitive, with artist management in control of selecting their promoting team. The demand for live entertainment continues to grow, and there are more promoters than ever working with artists to help them connect with fans through live shows. The Department of Justice itself recognized the competitive nature of the concert promotion business at the time of the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger. That dynamic has not changed.
Ticketmaster has a significant share of the primary ticketing services market because of the large gap that exists between the quality of the Ticketmaster system and the next best primary ticketing system. The market is increasingly competitive nonetheless, with rivals making aggressive offers to venues. That Ticketmaster continues to be the leader in such an environment is a testament to the platform and those who operate it, not to any anticompetitive business practices. 5 years ago tickets were paper, now you scan in with your phone, and can transfer tickets to your friend with one tap. We innovate and invest in our technology more than any other ticketing company, and we will continue to do so.
Secondary ticketing is extremely competitive, with Ticketmaster competing with StubHub, SeatGeek, Vivid and many others. No serious argument can be made that Ticketmaster has the kind of market position in secondary ticketing that supports antitrust claims.
For the past 12 years Live Nation has operated under a Consent Decree that among other things seeks to prevent anticompetitive leveraging of Live Nation promoted content to advantage Ticketmaster. Pursuant to the Amended Decree voluntarily entered in 2020, Live Nation’s compliance is monitored by a former federal judge. There never has been and is not now any evidence of systemic violations of the Consent Decree. It remains against Live Nation policy to threaten venues that they won’t get Live Nation shows if they do not use Ticketmaster, and Live Nation does not re-route content as retaliation for a lost ticketing deal.
Ticketmaster is also the most transparent and fan-friendly ticketing system in the United States. Ticketmaster does not set or control ticket prices, strongly advocates for all-in pricing so that fans are not surprised by what tickets really cost, and is the undisputed market leader in ticket security and fighting bots. Ticketmaster also does not embrace deceptive and questionable secondary ticketing practices prevalent on rival sites such as speculative ticketing.
We are proud of the work we do across both concerts and ticketing, and will continue working to improve and support the live events industry.
Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images