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US senators introduce Unlock Ticketing Markets Act

US senators yesterday (26 April) introduced legislation intended to improve competition in live event ticketing markets.

The Unlock Ticketing Markets Act, sponsored by senators Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar, would allow the Federal Trade Commission to prevent the use of “excessively long” multi-year exclusive contracts that “lock out competitors, decrease incentives to innovate new services, and increase costs for fans”.

“Today’s primary ticketing market is dominated by one company that by some estimates has locked up 70 to 80% market share and has used its dominance to pressure venues to agree to ticketing contracts that last up to ten years, insulating it from competition,” notes the announcement.

Klobuchar said: “Right now, one company is leveraging its power to lock venues into exclusive contracts that last up to ten years, ensuring there is no room for potential competitors to get their foot in the door. Without competition to incentivise better services and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences. The Unlock Ticketing Markets Act would help consumers, artists, and independent venue operators alike by making sure primary ticketing companies face pressure to innovate and improve.”

“Right now, one company is leveraging its power to lock venues into exclusive contracts that last up to ten years”

Also yesterday, senators introduced a bipartisan bill, called the Transparency in Charges for Key Events Ticketing (TICKET) Act, which requires ticketing companies to disclose upfront full ticket prices, including fees, for concerts, sporting events and other large gatherings.

The new bill follows the recent reintroduction of the Junk Fee Prevention Act, which would eliminate “excessive” ticketing fees for concerts and other events.

It also comes as lawmakers wage a broader battle against ticket sellers. In December, Taylor Swift fans sued Live Nation after its Ticketmaster site crashed during presales for the artist’s Eras Tour. The presale prompted a US Senate antitrust panel, organised by Klobuchar and senator Mike Lee, to look into a “lack of competition in ticketing markets”.

Ticketmaster also pledged to offer partial refunds for “unduly high” ticketing fees charged in the Verified Fan sale for The Cure’s upcoming North American tour, after criticism from group leader Robert Smith.

In the wake of the Swift controversy, Ticketmaster parent Live Nation launched the Fair Ticketing Act, which says that artists should decide resale rules; selling speculative tickets should be illegal; the scope of the BOTS Act needs to be expanded and enforced; and there needs to be industry-wide all-in pricing so fans see the full cost they are paying up front.

More than 20 music organisations including CAA, UTA, Wasserman Music and WME have come out in support of the act.


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