Friday 9 June 2023

New Group Takes Aim At Ticket Scalpers, Lays Out Plan For Lawmakers

 If you want to see Taylor Swift on Friday in Detroit, you can go online to and buy a ticket right now — for $1,157.

That seat is as high up in the arena and as far from the stage as you can possibly be. Want a seat on the floor with a great view? That’ll cost you $3,838.

The list price for tickets of Swift’s concerts range from $49 to $499 (higher if you go VIP). But those sold out in minutes. The markup from second-party ticket sellers on concerts and sporting events is way out of control, so bad that the Department of Justice has opened an investigation.

Now a new group has come along to help bring relief to ticket buyers in America. “Fix the Tix” is a coalition of 30 national organizations that represent live entertainment, music, and performing arts constituencies.

They’ve released a comprehensive plan for ticketing reform that is both pro-artist and pro-consumer, which the group called “a clear roadmap for Congress to address urgent issues and restore trust in the ticketing experience for fans and artists.”

“The current ticketing market exposes fans and artists to predatory resellers, fraudulent practices, and exorbitant prices. To combat these challenges, Fix the Tix calls on Congress to enact federal legislation that safeguards consumers from fake and speculative tickets, price gouging, and deceptive practices while ensuring transparency and integrity in the ticketing marketplace,” the group said.

The Fix the Tix plan includes provisions to:

  • protect consumers from price gouging;
  • ban speculative and fake tickets;
  • end fraudulent resale practices;
  • ensure transparent ticket pricing;
  • prioritize fan safety;
  • guarantee fans the opportunity to resell their tickets to recoup their costs;
  • ensure certainty in ticket-buying across the country;
  • further ban ticket-buying bots;
  • and protect consumers from consolidation.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has been a leader on the issue, jumping into the fray after the November sale of Swift tickets turned into a debacle, leaving thousands of fans frustrated and prompting scalpers to jack their prices sky high.


“I was watching what was going on with the pre-release of Taylor Swift’s tickets,” she told Rolling Stone.

“It came up on a more personal level; I actually have quite a few staff who were trying to get tickets that day. Between seeing their experience and seeing all the people online talking about it, I think it really showed how widespread the problem is and reflects the degree of market consolidation in this industry.”

That’s exactly correct. Ticketmaster and Live Nation merged in 2010, and it’s been a mess ever since. Ticketmaster controls the tickets, and Live Nation often owns the venue, which means they’ve got you coming and going.

“One of the things we’ve been increasingly seeing is that these price increases because of inflation and abuse of market power are due to market consolidation,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It’s gotten so bad that we’re really seeing it affect our everyday lives, from how much we’re paying at grocery stores to not being able to see our favorite artists without paying an arm and a leg.”

After the Swift mess, the Department of Justice announced it is opening an antitrust inquiry into the monopoly, focused on “whether Live Nation Entertainment has abused its power over the multibillion-dollar live music industry,” The New York Times reported.

But Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts wrote a letter to the attorney general saying that’s not enough, noting that “an investigation alone does nothing for the stakeholders already harmed by Live Nation’s market dominance and seemingly ongoing anticompetitive behavior.”

They said the company, which controls about 60% of the market — including many of the biggest venues — “has continued to abuse its dominant market position,” adding that “we urge the Department to consider unwinding the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger and breaking up the company.”

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