Blumenthal calls for congressional hearings into Ticketmaster
Calling the concert giant a "monopoly," Sen. Richard Blumenthal called for congressional hearings into Ticketmaster on Monday. It comes after the company's chaotic rollout of Taylor Swift tour tickets last week led to angry backlash from fans and politicians alike.
Ticketmaster canceled sales to the general public on Friday after a pre-sale crashed the company's website within minutes.
Millions of Swift's fans were furious.
"Ticketmaster takes the $490 out of my account, but it like crashed," one TikTok user posted.
Tickets for Swift's "Eras" tour are now on sale for up to $45,000 on resale sites.
Now, Blumenthal wants the U.S. Department of Justice to consider breaking up Ticketmaster. In 2009, the company merged with Live Nation, the country's largest events manager. Critics have long accused the merged company of threatening artists and venues who don't use it – a concern Blumenthal first raised as Connecticut's attorney general.
"It's more than just Taylor Swift. It's everybody who goes to concerts," Blumenthal said Monday. "Whether you're aware of it or not, you're paying more than you should."
Even President Joe Biden is taking notice.
"The president has been very clear, he's been crystal clear on this, and I quote, capitalism without competition isn't capitalism, it's exploitation," said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
Ticketmaster issued a lengthy apology on its website, blaming the ticket failure on "a staggering number of bot attacks as well as fans who didn't have [pre-sale] codes." Ticketmaster said its "Verified Fan" system is aimed at "identifying real humans and weeding out bots."
For her part, Swift blamed Ticketmaster in an online post.
"I'm not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this demand and we were assured they could," Swift wrote on Instagram. "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."
The Justice Department was already investigating Ticketmaster before the Taylor Swift debacle, according to the New York Times. But DOJ dismissed a similar anti-trust complaint from the band Pearl Jam in 1994.
Now, Blumenthal wants to hold congressional hearings, especially into Ticketmaster's resale site.
"A monopoly is actually good for the scalpers and the re-sellers because what they do is, they hold back tickets. That's the reason this site crashed. They were holding back some of the tickets," he said. "Let them come before a committee of the United States Congress and blame Taylor Swift. I want to see that happen."
Blumenthal said those hearings could happen as early as next month.