Ticketmaster Cast as a Powerful ‘Monopoly’ at Senate Hearing

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The panel also included a musician, Clyde Lawrence, of a small New York band called Lawrence. Dressed in a black suit, and with a scruffy head of hair, he joked that he could only dream of the crushing ticket demand enjoyed by Ms. Swift. But he described frustrations in dealing with Live Nation, such as the backstage costs it charges musicians, and the opacity of ticket surcharges, for which his band gets nothing.

He described a typical show, where the face value of the ticket was $30, plus $12 in fees. Yet out of that $42 paid by the consumer, $30 was eaten up by the venue, Live Nation and Ticketmaster, and another $6 went to the band’s touring expenses. “So that leaves us with $6 for an eight-piece band, pretax,” he said, “and we also have to pay our own health insurance.”

In his questioning, Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, honed in a facet of Ticketmaster’s business, the resale marketplace that exists seamlessly within its online ticket sales platform, “where you’re forcing everyone in the resale market to come into your ecosystem.”

“This is how monopolies work,” Mr. Hawley added. “You leverage market power in one market to get market power in another market — and it looks like you’re doing that in, frankly, multiple markets.”

Ms. Klobuchar, who called the hearing, said in a summation that some of the problems in ticketing, such as fighting bot traffic, could be dealt with through legislation. But she said that the larger question, of whether to take action against Live Nation as a monopoly, was best handled by the Justice Department. The near-unanimous criticism from lawmakers on Tuesday may put pressure on the Justice Department to act.

The most remarkable aspect of the hearing may have been the display of consensus by a panel often split along partisan lines. Mr. Blumenthal summed that up with a mocking salute to Mr. Berchtold.

“I want to congratulate and thank you for an absolutely stunning achievement,” he said. “You have brought together Republicans and Democrats in an absolutely unified cause.”