Taylor Swift Fans and Ticket Marketplaces at Odds After Concert Controversy Leads to State and Federal Legislation

Taylor Swift fans were left disappointed after an online ticket sale catastrophe last November, halting their chances of getting tickets for her highly awaited “Eras Tour.” Glitches shut down the ticket purchasing system, leaving registered fans stuck in long queues. Ticketmaster was forced to cancel general ticket sales and issue an apology due to overwhelming demand.

This led to fans filing a class-action lawsuit that accused Ticketmaster and Live Nation of misleading sales practices. The rise in instances of fans falling victim to reseller bots getting tickets first and selling them at higher prices prompted Congress and state legislatures’ attention. The National Conference of State Legislatures held a conference in Texas, shedding light on the issues affecting fans’ access to get tickets for concerts and other live events.

The ticket sales landscape is complex and involves multiple players in the primary and secondary markets, which often creates challenges. Steps have been taken by various states to regulate the ticket sales industry focusing on sellers’ disclosure and protection for the consumers.

Over the past two years, New York, Connecticut, and Tennessee have passed laws aiming to prevent “price dripping.” California has a similar law, which will go into effect in 2024. Thirty-one states and other U.S. territories have regulations in place requiring resellers to disclose all fees clearly and reveal the total cost of tickets before purchase. Some states, such as Kentucky, prohibit selling tickets at more than the value printed on them.

States like Georgia, Alabama, and Illinois require licensing or registration for resellers in the secondary market, while others have tightened domain and website laws to safeguard consumers from misleading advertising by private-label ticket websites.

The federal government has also stepped in, with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee holding hearings and considering five bills regarding competition and pricing in ticketing, including the Better Oversight of Stub Sales and Strengthening Well Informed and Fair Transactions for Audiences of Concert Ticketing Act. The bill aims to require sellers to disclose base ticket prices, fees, distribution methods, and refund policies.

Other proposed federal laws include the Transparency in Charges for Key Events Ticketing (TICKET) Act, Junk Fee Prevention Act, and the Unlock Ticketing Markets Act of 2023. These bills intend to eliminate hidden ticket fees and increase competition in the market. There was also the Mitigating Automated Internet Networks for MAIN Event Ticketing Act, introduced to strengthen enforcement of the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act, providing enhanced consumer protection.

The measures proposed reflect a significant step in addressing the problems fans face in trying to buy event tickets and protecting them from excessive fees and unscrupulous resellers. They also aim to create a fair and transparent ticketing market, ensuring fans can look forward to purchasing tickets for their favorite events without facing obstacles like inflated prices and rigged systems.


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