Feb 14, 2023 - News

State lawmakers take aim at ticket sales with new bills

Illustration of a theater stage, with a dollar bill printed on the curtains.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

New bills pending in the General Assembly would change the way concert tickets are sold in Tennessee.

  • The measures would limit the fees tacked onto ticket purchases and would seek to avoid an onslaught of surprise fees at checkout.

Why it matters: Nashville Democrats sponsoring the legislation say it is vital that Tennessee takes a leadership role in making sure the concert industry remains fair and transparent for fans and artists alike.

  • "We can’t be Music City if there are people who can’t access the music and the artists who produce it," state Rep. Caleb Hemmer (D-Nashville) tells Axios.

Driving the news: Hemmer says he was inspired to take action when his legislative assistant, like many other Taylor Swift fans, missed out on tickets for the artist's stadium tour after a chaotic pre-sale.

"This is a problem that Tennesseans want to have solved," Hemmer says.

  • "If there’s anything Democrats and Republicans can agree on, it's this is a market that's out of whack."

State of play: There are two Tennessee bills that seek to improve the ticket-buying process.

Hemmer says his bill, co-sponsored by state Sen. Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville), was designed to require ticket sellers to provide an itemized list up front that showed ticket costs along with additional fees.

  • Hemmer says the bill would also stop vendors from holding back more than 45% of available tickets for pre-sales. The goal is to ensure that there is still a chance to score a seat when tickets are available to the general public.

A second bill from Campbell and state Rep. Bo Mitchell (D-Nashville) would bar ticket vendors from adding fees that amount to more than 15% of a ticket's face value.

What she's saying: "We don't allow other industries to treat consumers this way," Campbell tells Axios. "The live entertainment market needs to provide the same level of customer service we expect from other industries."

The other side: In a Feb. 1 statement responding to federal scrutiny, Ticketmaster said it was ready to work with policymakers "on many common sense ticketing reforms."


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