Taylor Swift’s tour promoter is shifting blame for the botched “Eras” ticket sale squarely onto Ticketmaster, potentially fueling even more concerns about the Live Nation-owned ticket seller’s dominant role in the industry.
AEG Presents, the company in charge of handling Swift’s upcoming tour, has rejected claims made by Ticketmaster and Live Nation’s largest shareholder, Liberty Media, that the promoter chose to work with the ticketing site.
“Ticketmaster’s exclusive deals with the vast majority of venues on the ‘Eras’ tour required us to ticket through their system,” AEG said in a statement to CNBC. “We didn’t have a choice.”
Live Nation didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
AEG Presents’ comment is the latest show of finger-pointing after the public ticket sale was canceled last week in light of extreme demand. Swift herself blamed an “outside entity” and said she wouldn’t “make excuses for anyone.”
Last week, Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei blamed overzealous Swifties and bots for the demand that crashed its site and led to delays in ticket sales. Lawmakers, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., called for more oversight on Live Nation, which merged with Ticketmaster in 2010, expressing antitrust concerns. But Maffei defended Ticketmaster’s status in the industry and said AEG “chose to use us.”
A coalition of activists called “Break Up Ticketmaster” has claimed that because Live Nation controls 70% of the ticketing and live event venues market, performers and their representatives have little choice of where to sell their tickets. They have called on the Department of Justice to investigate Ticketmaster and Live Nation for “hiking up ticket prices” and “charging rip-off junk fees.”
On Friday, The New York Times reported the Justice Department had already opened an antitrust investigation into Live Nation’s practices prior to the Swift ticket sale fiasco.