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Already under scrutiny, Ticketmaster cancels general sales for Taylor Swift tour

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., expressed concern about how Ticketmaster and Live Nation has impacted competition in concert ticket sales. File Pool Photo by Elizabeth Frantz/UPI
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., expressed concern about how Ticketmaster and Live Nation has impacted competition in concert ticket sales. File Pool Photo by Elizabeth Frantz/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Already under fire from U.S. lawmakers over its influence on the live music industry, Ticketmaster said Thursday it is canceling upcoming ticket sales for the general public to Taylor Swift's "Eras" tour.

The company said it will not put the tickets on sale Friday as planned, because there aren't enough to meet the massive demand for the 52-date tour.

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"Due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand, tomorrow's public on-sale for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour has been cancelled," the California-based entertainment company said in a tweet.

Demand for the 32-year-old pop star's upcoming sixth tour in support of her recent Midnights album has been exceptionally high. This marks her first tour since 2018, with a 2020 list of dates scrubbed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The "Eras" tour begins on March 17 at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Ariz.

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Ticketmaster sold more than 2 million tickets in pre-sales earlier in the week and demand "could have filled 900 stadiums," Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei told CNBC.

Parent company Live Nation Entertainment blamed a surge of demand from 14 million users as well as bots for site disruptions and the slow queues for pre-sales earlier in the week.

U.S. lawmakers and state officials have continued to express concern over Ticketmaster's influence on the live music industry, citing website outages and long waits for tickets following its merger with Live Nation.

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In a letter to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino on Wednesday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said the merger allows the companies to "dominate the live entertainment supply chain with powerful positions in primary ticketing, secondary ticketing, concert promotion, artist management, tour sponsorships, and event venue operation."

"Ticketmaster's power in the primary ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically push companies to innovate and improve their services," she said.

Ticketmaster's 2010 merger with Live Nation was approved by antitrust regulators with stipulations. In 2019 the Department of Justice found that Live Nation had violated the terms by requiring venues to use Ticketmaster as a condition for hosting Live Nation entertainers.

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The merger came under renewed scrutiny after fans began experiencing issues attempting to purchase pre-sale tickets to for Swift's upcoming tour.

Tennessee's attorney general said his office had received multiple complaints from fans after Ticketmaster's website crashed on Tuesday.

"Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti is concerned about consumer complaints related to @Ticketmaster's pre-sale of @taylorswift13 concert tickets. He and his Consumer Protection team will use every available tool to ensure that no consumer protections laws were violated," read a tweet from the Attorney General's office.

Rep. Bill Pascrell, R-N.J., tweeted "with [Taylor Swift] tickets going on sale like most of you I'm on the waitlist. Let me know how your experience is today: we're watching you [Ticketmaster]."

Pascrell's tweet came around 90 minutes before Ticketmaster canceled ticket sales.

"#tbt When I pleaded with the Obama admin to block the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger in 2009. I wish they'd listened. Fans and now Swifties have been ripped off long enough. Break up Ticketmaster," Pascrell tweeted later on Thursday afternoon.

Last year five members of Congress, including Pascrell, and Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., wrote a letter asking the Department of Justice to launch an antitrust investigation into Ticketmaster.

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While indignant Taylor Swift fans prompted the latest public outcry, they are hardly alone. Earlier this year Bruce Springsteen fans were startled to find that tickets for his 2023 tour cost up to $5,000.

On Tuesday, Cicilline tweeted that the merger of these companies "should never have been allowed in the first place" and said he had joined Pascrell, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. to call on the Justice Department to investigate Live Nation's "efforts to jack up prices and strangle competition."

"There has been historically unprecedented demand with millions showing up to buy tickets for the TaylorSwiftTix presale. Hundreds of thousands of tickets have been sold. If you have already secured tickets, you are all set. If you are currently in a queue, please hang tight -- queues are moving and we are working to get fans through as quickly as possible," read a statement posted to Ticketmaster's official Twitter account on Tuesday.

This week in Washington

A worker attaches ropes to a crane to lift the official U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, a 78-foot red spruce named Ruby, off the flatbed truck that delivered the tree to the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Friday. The tree was harvested from the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

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