Updated Nov 17, 2022 - Economy

Tennessee, North Carolina AGs investigating Ticketmaster's Taylor Swift presale

Taylor Swift performing at Nissan Stadium in 2018. Photo: John Shearer/TAS18/Getty Images for TAS

The Attorneys General of Tennessee and North Carolina are looking into Ticketmaster following complaints from Taylor Swift fans angry over their chaotic experience trying to buy tickets during the presale.

Driving the news: Ticketmaster said Thursday it has canceled the general public ticket sale for Swift's upcoming Eras Tour after a chaotic and glitch-filled presale event.

  • North Carolina AG Josh Stein on Thursday afternoon tweeted that his office is investigating Ticketmaster for allegedly violating consumers' rights and antitrust laws.
  • Stein's tweet came two days after Tennessee AG Jonathan Skrmetti announced, also on Twitter, that he had referred the issue to the attorney general's consumer protection division.

Why it matters: State government scrutiny of Ticketmaster comes as members of Congress have expressed similar concerns about the corporate giant's outsized role in the live music industry.

  • Ticketmaster is part of Live Nation, giving the corporation enormous power in how concerts are promoted, booked and sold to fans. In Nashville, the company has been adding to its stable of smaller venue partners in recent years.

Catch up quick: The Tuesday presale for Swift’s 2023 stadium tour hobbled the Ticketmaster website. Fans with codes distributed by Ticketmaster waited for hours while online queues were frozen. Some left empty-handed.

  • Buyers participating in a different presale Wednesday experienced a similar slog.

Details: In a press briefing Wednesday, Skrmetti said it's his job to ensure consumer protection laws and antitrust laws are being followed.

  • "We know consumers were given presale codes to purchase tickets, and we need to look into exactly what was promised to them and whether that was provided," Skrmetti said.
  • Skrmetti said there were complaints about a lack of customer support by Ticketmaster, with buyers being told they needed to wait up to five days for help.

What he's saying: Skrmetti said he's seen reports that Ticketmaster's market share in the concert ticket space is up to 70%.

  • "Any time you have that concentration of market share, there's a risk the lack of competition will not just drive up prices for consumers, it will also reduce the quality of the product," he said.
  • If Ticketmaster violated consumer protection laws, Skrmetti said the state could pursue financial penalties. Or, "more importantly," he said, the state could seek a court order that makes the company "do better so the problems that happened [Tuesday] don't happen again."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a tweet from North Carolina's AG announcing an investigation into Ticketmaster.

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