Lawmakers aren't ready to shake off what happened to Taylor Swift fans trying to buy tickets to her upcoming tour.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Jan. 24 about the lack of competition in the ticketing industry. Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation were heavily scrutinized during November pre-sale release dates for Swift's upcoming The Eras Tour as fans endured long wait times and technical issues that prevented many from obtaining tickets.
"As millions of Taylor Swift fans found out last fall, there are few consequences for failing to deliver the service," Sen. Amy Klobuchar said in her opening statement via NBC News. "Whether it's Bruce Springsteen or BTS or Bad Bunny, fans, artists and venues are facing real issues with Live Nation."
But according to Sen. Mike Lee, the bipartisan hearing was about much more than just Swift's tour. Instead, he argued it was an inquiry into restoring competition and ensuring fair prices and better services for consumers.
"This hearing for me is not only about the latest ticketing disaster that has made headlines," he said in his opening statement. "My daughter Eliza might disagree, but there are much bigger issues involved than this one event."
During the hearing, Live Nation's President and CFO Joe Berchtold spoke to lawmakers about the problems his company faces during ticket sales.
"Many are the direct result of industrial scale ticket scalping that goes on today," he said. "A $5 billion industry in concerts alone in the United States fueled by practices that run counter to the interests of artists and their fans."
He went on to say bots attacked Verified Fan password servers during Swift's ticket pre-sale event, "which required us to slow down and even pause our sales."
"This is what led to a terrible consumer experience, which we deeply regret," Berchtold said. "We apologize to the fans. We apologize to Ms. Swift. We need to do better and we will do better."
After the three-hour hearing, Klobuchar called the company's handling of Swift's recent tour a "fiasco." At the same time, she expressed hope that a better ticketing system can be possible for music fans in the future.
"Concertgoers today should be able to have those same experiences I had when I was in high school," she said, "when it didn't cost much to go see a band and remember it forever."
While Swift has not publicly commented on the hearings, she previously spoke out about her fans' experiences trying to buy tickets to her shows through Ticketmaster.
"There are a multitude of reasons why people had such a hard time trying to get tickets and I'm trying to figure out how this situation can be improved moving forward," Swift wrote in a Nov. 18 Instagram Story. "I'm not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could."
"It's truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets," she added, "but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them."
(E! and NBC News are part of the NBCUniversal family)