US Senators introduce legislation to improve competition in the ticketing markets

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US Senator Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights, and Senator Richard Blumenthal, have introduced legislation to improve competition within the live event ticketing markets.

A press release stated: “Today’s primary ticketing market is dominated by one company that by some estimates has locked up 70 to 80% market share and has used its dominance to pressure venues to agree to ticketing contracts that last up to ten years, insulating it from competition.”

The ‘Unlock Ticketing Markets Act’ would help to restore competition by empowering the Federal Trade Commission to prevent the use of excessively long multi-year contracts that lock out competitors, according to the Senators. 

Klobuchar and Blumenthal also argue that these long contracts decrease incentives to innovate new services and increases the cost for music fans. 

Earlier this year, Klobuchar and Senator Mike Lee, chair and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights, organised a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing after Ticketmaster struggled under the weight of Taylor Swift fans vying for Eras Tour tickets. 

In February, Klobuchar and Lee sent their evidence from the hearing to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and called on the DOK to continue its examination of Ticketmaster and owner Live Nation’s anticompetitive conduct.

Prior to the committee hearing, Klobuchar wrote to Ticketmaster in November expressing concern over the lack of competition, and asking the ticketing company if it was taking necessary steps to provide the best service it could for consumers. 

Klobuchar said: “Right now, one company is leveraging its power to lock venues into exclusive contracts that last up to ten years, ensuring there is no room for potential competitors to get their foot in the door. 

“Without competition to incentivize better services and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences. ‘The Unlock Ticketing Markets Act’ would help consumers, artists, and independent venue operators alike by making sure primary ticketing companies face pressure to innovate and improve.”

Blumenthal added: “Consumers deserve protection against the clear excesses and abuses of Ticketmaster repeatedly demonstrated in their own lives and documented in Congressional hearings. 

“This legislation is a step toward basic fairness that everyone deserves – consumers, artists, venues, and others – against a sad and repugnant history of putting its profits above them. Free and fair markets depend on competition which is the least concertgoers, artists, and independent venues deserve.”

Klobuchar and Blumenthal have been leading efforts to enhance and preserve competition in the live entertainment industry, and in April 2020, along with Senator Cory Booker, urged the DOJ’s Antitrust Division to action.

In 2019, they also called on the DOJ Antitrust Division to investigate the stare of competition in the ticketing marketplace following report that Ticketmaster and Live Nation were not adhering to the conditions of the antitrust consent decree governing its merger.