‘I’m the problem, it’s me’: Why US Senators quoted Taylor Swift’s songs at hearing

It is never a bad time to quote Taylor Swift’s songs. Seems like the Senators in the United States also believe so.

Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee presided over a hearing titled ‘That’s the Ticket: Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment’ on Tuesday (24 January) to discuss Swift’s presale ticket debacle last November.

The lawmakers grilled executives from Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation over the fiasco that bereft thousands of fans from booking seats for the Bad Blood singer’s upcoming ‘Eras’ tour.

Let’s take a look at how Senators ripped into Ticketmaster through Taylor Swift‘s songs and what has Live Nation said about the issue.

Taylor Swift’s songs references

Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal, from Connecticut, told Live Nation president Joe Berchtold that he has made “stunning achievement” of uniting both rival parties for a common cause.

Quoting Swift’s Anti-Hero song from her 2022 mega-hit album Midnights, Blumenthal said as per Independent: “Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say: ‘I’m the problem. It’s me'”.

Other Senators also grabbed the opportunity to cite Swift’s songs while slamming the company.

In her opening remarks, Democrat Senator Amy Klobuchar made an All Too Well reference. “To have a strong capitalist system, you have to have competition. You can’t have too much consolidation,” Klobuchar said, according to Huffington Post.

Taylor Swift’s fans had to wait for hours last November for tickets her upcoming Eras tour. AP File Photo

“Something that unfortunately for our country, as an ode to Taylor Swift, I will say we know all too well,” the Democrat added alluding to the singer’s breakup ballad.

More cheeky mentions were soon to follow.

Republican Senator Mike Lee cited a lyric from Blank Space, saying curbing ticket transfers to prevent their resale was “a nightmare dressed like a daydream”, reported Independent.

Lee concluded his speech with: “I have to throw out, in deference to my daughter Eliza, one more Taylor Swift quote: ‘Karma is a relaxing thought, aren’t you envious for you it’s not?'”

ALSO READ: Why Taylor Swift is re-recording her studio albums, and what it says about copyright battles with mega music labels

What has Live Nation said?

Live Nation president apologised to Swift and her fans, stating that a bot attack was behind “a terrible consumer experience” last November.

“We need to do better and we will do better”, Berchtold told the committee.

Calling the demand for tickets “unprecedented”, the Live Nation president elaborated that Ticketmaster was “hit with three times the amount of bot traffic than we had ever experienced”.

Ticketmaster, the world’s largest ticket seller, merged with California-based concert promoter Live Nation in 2010, as per Associated Press (AP).

During a presale of Swift’s upcoming stadium tour, fans had to encounter site outages. Many fruitlessly waited for hours in an online queue.

After the presale disaster, Ticketmaster had suspended its general onsale for the remaining 1,70,000 tickets, Billboard reported.

Swift had addressed the issue and said it was “excruciating” to watch fans struggling to get tickets.

Ticketmaster also came under fire for exorbitant ticket prices.

Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, also hit out at the company over its high fees, saying shows have become too expensive for fans to afford.

She said ticket fees now average 27 per cent of the ticket cost and jump as high as 75 per cent, reported AP.

However, Berchtold insisted that Ticketmaster does not set prices or service fees for tickets.

“Service fees are set by venues”, he said, adding that Live Nation “only owns around 5 per cent” of venues in the US.

Live Nation president (Left) said Ticketmaster saw bot attack during presale event. AP

Berchtold also admitted that the company should have staggered the sales “over a longer period of time” to prevent its system from getting overwhelmed. He also said they should have done “a better job setting fan expectations for getting tickets”, reported BBC.

Around 70 per cent of tickets for major concert venues in America are sold via Ticketmaster, a federal lawsuit filed by consumers last year had found, said AP report.

Merger under scrutiny

SeatGeek CEO Jack Groetzinger, a competitor of Ticketmaster, has alleged Live Nation “prevents competition by signing multi-year contracts with arenas and concert halls to provide ticketing services”, as per AP.

He also called for breakup of Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

“As long as Live Nation remains both the dominant concert promoter and ticketer of major venues in the US, the industry will continue to lack competition and struggle,” Groetzinger told lawmakers as per CBC News.

The Department of Justice allowed the 2010 merger on the condition that Live Nation would promise not to retaliate against concert venues for using other ticket firms for 10 years.

In 2019, the department discovered that Live Nation had “repeatedly” violated that agreement, reported AP.

On Tuesday, Lee, a Utah Republican, informed that the Justice Department is again investigating Live Nation in the wake of Swift ticket fiasco.

Lee also said Congress should question if the department’s decision to agree to the merger was right.

“It’s very important that we maintain fair, free, open and even fierce competition,” Lee said, as per AP. “It increases quality and it reduces price. We want those things to happen.”

With inputs from agencies

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