President Biden Asks Congress to Crack Down on ‘Massive’ Ticket Fees
Biden's call to action comes on the heels of the Senate Judiciary hearing targeting problems in the live music business.
President Biden urged Congress to “crack down on excessive online concert, sporting event, and other entertainment ticket fees” on Wednesday (Feb. 1), according to a statement from the White House. Biden’s call for action came roughly a week after Live Nation Entertainment faced scathing critiques from both Democratic and Republic senators during a Senate Judiciary hearing.
Speaking with his competition council, Biden said that Congress “should lower the huge service fees that companies like Ticketmaster slap onto tickets for concerts or sporting events that can easily add hundreds of bucks to a family’s night out,” according to The New York Times. “It’s a basic question of fairness,” he added.
President Biden’s interest in curbing ticket fees is part of the Junk Fee Prevention Act, which he discussed with his competition council Wednesday. The act takes aim at four types of excessive fees that cumulatively “cost American consumers billions of dollars a year.”
“Many online ticket sellers impose massive service fees at check-out that are not disclosed when consumers are choosing their tickets,” the White House noted in a statement. These fees make attending live events prohibitively expensive in some cases: “A family of four attending a show could end up paying far more than $100 in fees above and beyond the cost of the tickets.”
As a result, “the President is calling on Congress to prohibit excessive fees, require the fees to be disclosed in the ticket price, and mandate disclosure of any ticket holdbacks that diminish available supply.”
In addition to limiting ticket fees, the Junk Fee Prevention Act also aims to eliminate “airline fees for family members to sit with young children,” “exorbitant early termination fees for TV, phone, and internet service” and “surprise resort and destination fees.”
Ticket fees were just one of several topics that came up during the Senate Judiciary hearing last month, which also explored the Taylor Swift ticket sale fiasco, whether Live Nation bullies its competitors and the extent to which the company acts as a monopoly. Joe Berchtold, Live Nation’s president and chief financial officer, told lawmakers that his company wasn’t as powerful as critics were making out and argued that “ticketing has never been more competitive.”
The hearing almost immediately caused ripples in the live music industry. The following day, Ineffable Music Group announced that it would no longer collect 20% of touring artists’ merchandise sales at the 10 venues it owns or operates. “Any action we can take to help to insure a healthy, vibrant concert ecosystem is important,” Ineffable Music Group CEO Thomas Cussins told Billboard at the time.