The Utah senator joined others in the subcommittee hearing by quoting the pop musician’s lyrics.
Calling Senator Mike Lee a Swiftie might be a bit of an exaggeration, but he knows at least a few Taylor Swift songs.
The Utah Republican was one of several lawmakers to follow the lead of the chairman, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, at a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday investigating concert ticket seller Ticketmaster. To quote the lyrics of a Swift song.
These quotes are on TikTok and Twitteras the Senator refers to some of the artist’s most iconic chart-toppers.
There is one from “Blank” when Lee talked about Regarding restricting ticket resale to drive down ticket prices, “I think it’s a nightmare disguised as a daydream.”
“Karma is the idea of relaxation, you don’t envy you, do you?” Lee said in a clip taken from the track “Karma” from Swift’s latest album, Midnight.
In another clip Forbes snipped from a C-SPAN feed, Lee references the classic “You Belong To Me.” “She was the cheerleader and I was in the stands,” Lee said of Klobuchar. “Taylor Swift was happy to write a song about the situation.” (Klobuchar is chairman of the Senate subcommittee on competition policy, antitrust and consumer rights; Lee is the ranking Republican on the subcommittee.)
Lee jokingly emphasized the purpose of the hearing: to investigate claims that Ticketmaster monopolizes the live entertainment market — and whether the company’s dominance of the ticketing industry contributed to its stunning collapse when Swift’s “Eras Tour” sold out in November.
In 2010, Ticketmaster acquired Live Nation, which owns and operates most of the live music venues in the United States, including Utah’s USANA Amphitheater and The Depot. Many critics of the industry say the merger makes it impossible for people such as artists and fans to use other services to book tours or sell tickets to shows. Swift’s tour, combined with her extensive fan base, has prompted scrutiny of Ticketmaster’s market dominance.
Both Republicans and Democrats grilled Ticketmaster officials during Tuesday’s hearing. They also discussed possible actions, including making tickets non-transferable to reduce scalping and calling for more transparency about ticket costs. Some have suggested that it may also be necessary to split Ticketmaster and Live Nation.
“The truth is, Live Nation/Ticketmaster is the 800-pound gorilla here,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. “The whole concert ticketing system is a mess, a monopoly mess.”
On Tuesday, Live Nation President and Chief Financial Officer Joe Berchtold apologized to fans and to Swift, saying the company knew it had to do better. Ticketmaster has spent $1 billion over the past decade trying to improve its security and stop bots, Berchtold said.
“We need to do better and will do better,” he said.
Rivals such as Seat Geek CEO Jack Groetzinger say that even if Live Nation doesn’t own the venue, it’s blocking competition by signing multiyear contracts with arenas and concert halls to provide ticketing services. If these venues do not agree to use Ticketmaster, Live Nation may refuse to take action. This makes it difficult for competitors to disrupt the market.
“The only way to restore competition is to split Ticketmaster and Live Nation,” Groetzinger said.
Lee said Tuesday that the Justice Department is investigating Live Nation again after the Swift ticket fiasco. At this point, Congress should first ask the department whether to allow the merger to proceed, he said.
“It is very important to maintain fair, free, open and even fierce competition,” Li said. “It improves quality and lowers prices. We want those things to happen.”
Editor’s note • The Associated Press contributed to this article.