President Joe Biden is set to announce that ticketing giants Live Nation and Ticketmaster have promised to disclose the full price of tickets upfront, essentially removing the haunting prospect of hidden fees at checkout, according to Reuters.
Live Nation and Ticketmaster have been the focus of regulatory ire for years, but scrutiny hit a fever pitch last November when Live Nation canceled ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour. While the Swift cancellations were reportedly due to a bot attack, the event became the focus of critics who argue that Live Nation drives up ticketing costs and fees for customers by entering into anti-competitive contracts with venues.
“This a win for consumers, in my view, and proof that our crackdown on junk fees has real momentum,” Biden said in his Thursday remarks. “But there’s more to do to address the problem of online ticketing ... to address the problems in the online ticketing industry and to get rid of junk fees across all industries.”
As part of Thursday’s announcement, Biden hosted a White House meeting with companies that have agreed to disclose all-in pricing upfront, including Live Nation, SeatGeek, and DICE, as well as the short-term rental platform Airbnb.
“Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s announcement today is a half-hearted attempt to ward off a looming DOJ investigation”
“President Biden has been working to lower costs for hardworking families by bringing down inflation, capping insulin prices for seniors, and eliminating hidden junk fees,” Lael Brainard, national economic director, said in a statement to Reuters Thursday. “More companies are heeding the President’s call so that Americans know what they’re paying for up front and can save money as a result.”
While ticketers have agreed to be transparent about ticket prices, their agreement with the White House doesn’t affect how much they can charge or Live Nation’s reported 70 percent market share amongst ticket sellers.
“Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s announcement today is a half-hearted attempt to ward off a looming DOJ investigation into addressing the real issue — its monopoly power over live events,” the Break Up Ticketmaster Coalition said in a statement Thursday.
Still, the White House’s announcement may not be the end of consequences for Live Nation following the Swift debacle. Last November, The New York Times reported that the Justice Department had opened an antitrust investigation into the company. The Justice Department has not confirmed or commented publicly on the possible investigation.
Updated June 15th, 2023 at 4:04PM ET: Included remarks from President Biden during Thursday’s meeting.