Taylor Swift fans are suing Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, over last month’s “ticket sale disaster”.
On November 15, presale tickets went live for Swift’s Eras Tour and millions of people tried to get tickets.
However, the sale was marred by controversy – with thousands of fans reporting they were unable to purchase tickets due to the site crashing or freezing. There were also complaints about the steep price of tickets.
By November 18, Ticketmaster had cancelled the public sale, saying there were too few tickets left. Some Swifities then turned to retail sites where tickets were listed for up to $40,000 a pop.
Since then, politicians such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have suggested people complain to the US Department of Justice and some US states have even announced their own investigations.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, who chairs a subcommittee on competition and consumer rights, has promised a hearing “to examine the lack of competition in the ticketing industry.”
On Monday (AEDT), it was confirmed that some of Swift’s fans had launched legal action over the debacle. They have alleged “fraud, price-fixing, and antitrust violations”, according to Deadline.
The lawsuit was filed in California, where Live Nation Entertainment is based.
A copy of the lawsuit was shared by Deadline.
It raises concerns of Ticketmaster’s alleged “anticompetitive conduct” and goes on to allege the company “effectuated this anticompetitive scheme” by forcing fans to only use Ticketmaster for presale and public tickets, or Ticketmaster’s “Secondary Ticket Exchange”.
“Defendant’s anticompetitive behaviour has substantially harmed and will continue to substantially harm, Taylor Swift fans, as well as competition in the ticket sales marker and the Secondary Ticket Services Market,” court documents said.
The lawsuit says popular acts such as Swift have no choice but to work with Ticketmaster, because of its own deals with stadiums that are “the only venues able to hold large concerts”.
“Because artists like Taylor Swift have to go through Ticketmaster, their fans do as well,” the lawsuit states.
“This means virtually all major music concert ticket sales in California and the United States go through Ticketmaster’s Primary Ticket Platform.”
The court document also alleges Ticketmaster has tried to profit from scalped tickets by expanding into the secondary ticket market. It also states the company “intentionally and purposefully misled” fans wanting tickets to the Eras Tour and allowed scalpers and bots into the presale.
The plaintiffs are each seeking $US2500 ($3659) from Ticketmaster for each violation of the Business and Professions Code.
Ticketmaster messed with the “wrong” fanbase
The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Jennifer Kinder, said both Swift and her fans had been hurt.
“Ticketmaster messed with the wrong fan base,” she said in a statement, according to NBC News.
“When you have a monopolist like that, it’s just so representative of the class structure of a society where there isn’t equality anymore, there isn’t fairness,” he said.
Taylor Swift fans are not the only angry fan base
Swift’s fans are not the first group to express frustration at Ticketmaster.
Recently, fans of Bruce Springsteen were furious at the cost of his tickets, due to dynamic pricing.
Pearl Jam famously took on Ticketmaster in the 1990s.
Not wanting to alienating their fans, Pearl Jam fought to keep the cost of tickets and Ticketmaster’s service fee low.
The grunge band, which hailed from Seattle, even tried to tour without Ticketmaster in 1994. But eventually it had to concede that it was too difficult to do so without the company.
Pearl Jame eventually ended up playing small concerts without Ticketmaster.
In 1995, the Justice Department decided it would not bring an antitrust case against Ticketmaster.
The Fillmore Mercantile Bank of Philadelphia eventually financed Pearl Jam’s tour without Ticketmaster, also helping to build software to sell tickets.
“The Justice Department did not step up to the plate but rather handed the keys back to the monopolists, shutting us out,″ then bank president Ray Garman told AP.
After the Justice Department decided against acting, that meant there was no competition among large venues that bands such as Pearl Jam needed to hold concerts, Mr Garman said.
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