WASHINGTON - In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, the CEO of Live Nation Entertainment offered both an apology and an excuse for the now-infamous Taylor Swift ticketing debacle of late last year.
"We apologize to the fans, we apologize to Ms. Swift, we need to do better, and we will do better," said Joe Berchtold, who also placed blame for the meltdown on what he says was an unprecedented cyberattack.
"For the first time in 400 verified fan on-sales, they came after our verified fan password servers as well," said Berchtold. "While the bots failed to penetrate our systems to acquire any tickets, the attack required us to slow down and even pause our sales."
Senators on both sides of the aisle did not appear entirely convinced that the industry giant shouldn't be reigned in.
"You have to have competition," said Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). "You can't have too much consolidation, something that unfortunately for this country — as an ode to Taylor Swift — I will say we know all too well."
"You're forcing them to become your customer in order for them to take possession of this ticket," said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). "I have to tell you: from a competition standpoint, this really, really worries me."
Those sentiments were echoed, not surprisingly, by one of Ticketmaster's smaller competitors.
"The only effective remedy now is a structural one: the dissolution of the common ownership of Ticketmaster and Live Nation," said Jack Groetzinger, the CEO of SeatGeek. "To improve our industry, we must restore competition."
At the hearing, Berchtold vowed to work with Congress to make the fan experience better, and asked lawmakers to crack down harder on fraudulent ticket practices.