Senators Take Aim At Ticketmaster 1 Year After Taylor Swift Fiasco

Senators introduced a bill Thursday that aims to address long-standing issues that consumers say they’ve had while trying to purchase tickets to live events.

The Fans First Act calls for transparency from sellers about ticket information, including pricing. Sellers are required to disclose the full price of tickets, including any additional fees; the seat number or section that corresponds with a ticket; and whether a consumer would be buying a ticket from a primary or secondary seller.

If the bill is signed into law, violations could result in civil penalties of $15,000 per day of the violation period, as well as $1,000 per event ticket advertised or sold.

The bill, introduced by six lawmakers including Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), arrives a year after complaints piled up about the ticket-selling practices and high pricing of primary ticketing companies such as Ticketmaster and resale marketplaces, such as StubHub and Vivid Seats.

“The current ticketing system is riddled with problems and doesn’t serve the needs of fans, teams, artists, or venues,” Cornyn said in a statement Friday. “This legislation would rebuild trust in the ticketing system by cracking down on bots and others who take advantage of consumers through price gouging and other predatory practices and increase price transparency for ticket purchasers.”

In 2022, Ticketmaster — an entertainment behemoth that merged with Live Nation in 2010 — held a presale event for tickets to singer Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. Customers who gained access to the early sale reported several roadblocks while trying to purchase tickets, including a crash in the Ticketmaster system and hourslong wait times to access tickets, prompting Ticketmaster to abruptly cancel the general sale the following day.

The entertainment company has faced scrutiny for its increased ticket pricing, specifically its use of dynamic pricing — a practice that creates higher ticket prices in response to increased ticket demands — along with its alleged abuse of the primary ticketing and live event venues market.

Tickets for Swift’s Eras Tour were reported to be as high as $4,549, and additional fees were tacked on to pricing, igniting criticisms and lawsuits from the singer’s fans. Lawmakers also called out Ticketmaster’s near-monopoly on ticket sales.

The Department of Justice launched an antitrust investigation into Ticketmaster following the disastrous presale fiasco, along with a separate probe into Live Nation. In January, the Senate held a hearing to address Ticketmaster’s system failures.

This week’s newly introduced bill would bolster already existing legislation that prohibits the use of computer bots, which are often used by scalpers, and requires ticket sellers to offer full refunds when an event is canceled. It arrives after various other bills have been proposed in both the Senate and House this year to bolster consumer protections.