Justice Dept. Is Said to Investigate Ticketmaster’s Parent Company

Justice Department staff members have asked whether Live Nation was complying with the agreement as part of their new inquiry, said one of the people with knowledge of the matter. Officials at the agency have grown increasingly wary of such settlements, believing the best way to settle antitrust concerns is through changes to a company’s structure.


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The debacle involving Ms. Swift’s concert tickets this week has exacerbated complaints in the music business and in Washington that Live Nation’s power has constrained competition and harmed consumers. But it was also an example of extraordinary demand for a highly desired commodity in very limited supply.

The problems began Tuesday, when Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan system, which aims to weed out bots and professional scalpers from the process, began doling out access codes to fans who were interested in buying tickets to Ms. Swift’s Eras tour that is scheduled to start in March.

According to a blog post by Ticketmaster, which was published on Thursday but deleted within hours, 3.5 million fans registered for the program. The company “invited” 1.5 million of those customers to the presale by sending them codes, and the remaining two million were placed on a waiting list.

That day, Ticketmaster received 3.5 billion system requests, causing its app to crash for many users; Some who were in the process of buying tickets with their codes were unable to complete their transactions. According to Ticketmaster, two million tickets were sold on Tuesday alone. Another presale, for Capital One cardholders, was held on Wednesday.

But Thursday afternoon, Ticketmaster canceled its plans for a public ticket sale on Friday, when it would typically sell any tickets remaining after presales. It was unclear how many tickets had already been sold for Ms. Swift’s tour, and how many — if any — remained.

On Friday, in her first comments about the ticketing debacle, Ms. Swift posted a statement to social media saying she was looking into the situation to see how it could be improved. But she also expressed disappointment in Ticketmaster.

“I’m not going to make excuses for anyone,” Ms. Swift wrote, “because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand, and we were assured that they could.”

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