🎙️ A Swift Fury
How do you mobilize millions of people against corporate monopolies overnight? Scorn Taylor Swift fans, of course. That's the lesson Ticketmaster learned earlier this month after 14 million people flooded its website on November 15 hoping to get early access to the musician's first tour in 4 years. Instead, the website crashed, the tour sold out almost instantly, and tickets were being hawked for several thousand dollars by morning.
"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," Swift wrote in a statement a few days later, reports The Verge. "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."
But Swift wasn't the only one really pissed off at Ticketmaster. Senators, Congresspeople, and Attorney Generals (like in Tennessee) were too—calling for antitrust investigations of Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation. And the Department of Justice listened. Last week, the DOJ began such an investigation of Live Nation, reports the New York Times, while Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mike Lee announced they would hold hearings on the ticketing industry.
In response, Live Nation said in a statement that it "takes its responsibilities under the antitrust laws seriously and does not engage in behaviors that could justify antitrust litigation.”
When the DOJ approved the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster in 2010, concerns about a monopoly were already swirling. "The merger, as originally proposed, would have substantially lessened competition for primary ticketing in the United States, resulting in higher prices and less innovation for consumers," a DOJ statement noted at the time, writes Wired. The department ordered several stipulations be met by the newly-merged company, but in the years since, no real enforcement has been in place, nor any way to check up on those stipulations.
Sometimes it takes big events to change the law or spur an investigation. Usually that’s a merger, but sometimes that’s a large disaster. Of course, this disaster had no real human harm, but the size of Taylor Swift’s fan base is so large and so engaged that DOJ decided to step in.