Garth Brooks defends Ticketmaster, asks Congress to ‘make scalping illegal’

Brent N. Clarke/Associated Press

As the ticketing industry is at the center of nationwide fury and a U.S. Senate hearing, Ticketmaster has one influential entertainer in its corner.

Garth Brooks, the seven-time CMA Awards Entertainer of the Year, defended Ticketmaster in an open letter to the U.S. Congress and said it is not the reason for issues the industry is facing.

In the letter obtained Monday, Jan. 23, by reporters from Reuters and NBC News, Brooks said Ticketmaster has responded appropriately to recent disputes the company has been involved in. Most notably, Taylor Swift fans were denied their chance to buy tickets to her “The Eras Tour” after waiting in virtual queues for hours.

“As you work with a company, that company becomes individual people,” Brooks said of Ticketmaster. “What I witnessed was a true concern and care for ticket buyers as each on-sale was enacted.”

Ticketmaster cited “historically unprecedented demand” for Swift’s presale, eventually leading the company to cancel on-sale tickets. Swift later said it “really pisses (her) off” what fans had to go through to purchase her tickets.

If too much demand is put on a system, it’s bound to shut down or freeze, Brooks said to Congress.

“We learned this a few times. And when it happens, there are some things that are not in your control,” he said. “But how you respond to anything is always in your control. Ticketmaster has responded in an appropriate way for all of our situations. And what I learned is, it is as much up to me as the artist to protect the people who have made me an artist when it comes to how much demand I put on a ticketing system.”

It’s ticket scalpers, according to Brooks, that is hounding the industry. He called upon Congress to “just make scalping illegal.”

The topic has been one Brooks has often been vocal about. He said in 2017 that ticket scalpers should get “capital punishment,” according to Canadian publication CBC.

In a 2022 interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he said ticket scalping makes it hardest on fans — “the one who allows you to live your dream.”

Brooks repeated some of those assertions to Congress, saying ticket scalpers and robots are causing the failure in the system.

“And the one who ALWAYS pays for this atrocity is the customer, the LAST one on whom that burden should fall,” he said. “Making scalping illegal eliminates bots, eliminates dynamic pricing controversies, puts less pressure on the system because it puts everyone on a level playing field.”

These scalper bots, Live Nation president and CFO Joe Berchtold told a U.S. Senate judiciary committee Tuesday, Jan. 24, are what is at the root of Ticketmaster’s technical glitches,” The Guardian reported.

“This is what led to a terrible consumer experience, which we deeply regret,” he said.

In counter arguments, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), said, “Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m the problem. It’s me.”

“You are the ones ultimately responsible for the astronomically rising prices, the exorbitant hidden fees, the sold out shows, the bots and scalpers,” Blumenthal said. “And I think that consumers and artists and venues are all fed up with the system that exists right now.”

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