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Live Nation exec will face lawmakers about Taylor Swift concert tickets fiasco

Live Nation president, Joe Berchtold, is set to testify before a Senate committee on Tuesday about Taylor Swift concert tickets fiasco. Swift is pictured here in 2022 in Los Angeles.
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Live Nation president, Joe Berchtold, is set to testify before a Senate committee on Tuesday about Taylor Swift concert tickets fiasco. Swift is pictured here in 2022 in Los Angeles.

(CNN) -- Lawmakers are set to grill top executives from the event ticketing industry on Tuesday after Ticketmaster's inability to process orders for Taylor Swift's upcoming tour left millions of fans unable to buy tickets or without their ticket even after purchase.

Joe Berchtold, the president and CFO of Ticketmaster parent company Live Nation Entertainment, is set to testify before a Senate committee on Tuesday, two months after the Swift ticketing fiasco reignited public scrutiny of the industry. Jack Groetzinger, CEO of ticketing platform SeatGeek, is also scheduled to testify at the hearing.

Tickets for Swift's new five-month Eras Tour -- which kicks off March 17 and will have 52 concerts in multiple stadiums across the United States -- went on sale on Ticketmaster in mid November. Heavy demand snarled the ticketing site, infuriating fans who couldn't snag tickets. Customers complained about Ticketmaster not loading, saying the platform didn't allow them to access tickets, even if they had a pre-sale code for verified fans.

Unable to resolve the problems, Ticketmaster subsequently canceled Swift's concert ticket sales to the general public, citing "extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand."

As fury grew among legions of hardcore Swifties, Swift herself weighed in on the fiasco. "It goes without saying that I'm extremely protective of my fans," Swift wrote on Instagram in November. "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."

As a result, the US Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled the hearing on Tuesday, titled "That's The Ticket: Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment" to examine the lack of competition in the ticketing industry.

"The issues within America's ticketing industry were made painfully obvious when Ticketmaster's website failed hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to purchase tickets for Taylor Swift's new tour, but these problems are not new," Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who sits on the committee, said in a statement about the hearing. "We will examine how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industries harms customers and artists alike. Without competition to incentivize better services and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences."

in his prepared opening remarks, Berchtold attributed the ticketing headache to Ticketmaster being "hit with three times the amount of bot traffic than we had ever experienced" amid the "unprecedented demand for Taylor Swift tickets." The bot activity "required us to slow down and even pause our sales. This is what led to a terrible consumer experience that we deeply regret."

"As we said after the onsale, and I reiterate today, we apologize to the many disappointed fans as well as to Ms. Swift," he said in the opening remarks. Berchtold also noted some things the service could have done differently "in hindsight," including "staggering the sales over a longer period of time and doing a better job setting fan expectations for getting tickets."

In addition to the executives, the committee said witnesses at the hearing will include Jerry Mickelson, CEO of Jam Productions, one of the largest producers of live entertainment, and singer-songwriter Clyde Lawrence.

Lawrence, who has composed music for motion pictures including the Disney+ holiday comedy movie "Noelle," wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times in December titled "Taylor Swift's Live Nation Debacle Is Just the Beginning," in which he criticized Live Nation for allegedly being a monopoly and detrimental to artists.

"Whether it meets the legal definition of a monopoly or not, Live Nation's control of the live music ecosystem is staggering," he wrote.

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