Watch Live: Senators question Live Nation leader over Taylor Swift ticketing fiasco

Ticketmaster will publicly defend itself for the first time since becoming the concert promoter much-noticed meltdown Late last year during Taylor Swift’s Eras tour ticket sales.

Joe Berchtold, the president and chief financial officer of Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, is one of six witnesses scheduled to speak before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a hearing scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday

In prepared remarks, Berchtold claims the live concert industry is more competitive than it was a decade ago when Live Nation merged with Ticketmaster, and that the ticket seller controls neither capacity nor prices.

“Primary ticketing companies, including Ticketmaster, do not set ticket prices, do not decide how many tickets go on sale and when they go on sale, do not set service fees,” he said in opening remarks released ahead of the hearing.

“We don’t use algorithms to set prices,” added Berchtold.

Lawmakers were quick to announce the hearing after Ticketmaster canceled a sale for in November Taylor Swift’s concert tour when the service experienced technical disruptions and so-called “historical” customer demand for seats. Swift had planned her “Eras” tour for 52 concerts at 18 venues, with Ticketmaster being the primary ticket seller for all but five of those shows.

During a presale event on November 15 on Ticketmaster’s website crashed after 14 million fans and bots tried to buy tickets. Thousands of fans who thought they were eligible to purchase tickets were unable to purchase them, prompting some to do so Sue Ticketmaster.

Taylor Swift fans are suing Ticketmaster


The episode also led to calls for Ticketmaster to be disbanded, with critics accusing the ticketing platform, promoter and venue owner of monopolizing the events market.

Ticketmaster is estimated to have more than 70% market share of the US ticketing industry and is the primary ticketing provider for over 80% of professional sports teams and venues in the NBA, NHL and NFL. Live Nation denies these claims, saying its market share has shrunk since the 2010 merger.

“Ticketmaster has been losing market share, not gaining it, and each year competitive bids result in ticketing companies getting less of the economic value of a ticketing deal while venues and teams get more,” said Berchtold. “The US ticketing markets have never been more competitive and we keep reading about new potential entrants.”

The Senate panel will also be heard by ticketing platform SeatGeek, live event producer Jam Productions and singer-songwriter Clyde Lawrence, as well as academics studying antitrust law.

Blame scalpers?

Live Nation blames much of the blame on bots and scalpers who steal tickets to resell them. At least some artists agree with this assessment. In a letter in support of Live Nation, country music star Garth Brooks called on the committee to make scalping illegal.

“The rush of bots during a ticket sale is a big reason for a program to fail, NO MATTER WHO THE TICKET SALES COMPANY is. And the one who ALWAYS pays for these atrocities is the customer, the LAST ONE to bear the burden.” Brooks wrote in a letter to the committee.

Live Nation claims to have invested millions in developing anti-bot technology on the platform.

the The Justice Department is investigating Live Nation on whether the company’s market power violates antitrust laws and harms competition, and the The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office is investigating the Swift incident as well as what some fans call subpar customer support during the snafu.