‘Taylor Swift bill’ proposed in Massachusetts to ban dynamic ticket pricing

Photo Credit: Beth Garrabrant

In response to widespread frustrations among concertgoers, Massachusetts lawmakers have proposed legislation known as the “Taylor Swift bill,” aiming to bring transparency to ticket pricing and put an end to the controversial practice of dynamic pricing. 

State Representative Dan Carey and State Senator John Velis jointly introduced identical bills called “An Act Ensuring Transparent Ticket Pricing” on May 18.

The bill would require ticket-selling companies or resellers to disclose the complete cost of tickets, including all required and associated fees, before customers make a purchase.

Additional fees and surcharges often add hundreds of dollars to the advertised ticket price, Senator Velis said in a statement.

“As a result of these non-transparent ticket pricing methods, consumers are often unable to predict what the actual cost of a ticket will be,” the senator added.

The inspiration behind the bill lies in the experiences of numerous fans who faced challenges in November 2022 while trying to purchase tickets for Taylor Swift’s Eras tour. The introduction of the bill coincided with Swift’s three-night sold-out concert at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, which attracted nearly 200,000 fans, according to CBS News.

Representative Carey, who drafted the bill prior to the Taylor Swift ticket fiasco, highlighted the support from Swift fans and emphasized the need for transparency in ticket sales.

“No matter the event, consumers are tired of the lack of transparency from ticket sellers.  Watching ticket prices increase as you navigate through the purchasing process is devastating. ”

Dan Carey, Massachusetts Representative

“No matter the event, consumers are tired of the lack of transparency from ticket sellers.  Watching ticket prices increase as you navigate through the purchasing process is devastating.  Sellers should not be able to hide behind websites while consumers are left out in the cold.” 

The “Taylor Swift bill” primarily targets the dynamic pricing model of Ticketmaster, which is owned by Live Nation. The model adjusts ticket prices based on demand. 

This controversial pricing system caused a stir during the sale of Bruce Springsteen tickets for his upcoming 2023 US tour, with some tickets reaching prices of up to $5,000.

Ticketmaster defended its pricing system, saying it was introduced to address the burgeoning resale ticketing market, which it says has grown to more than a $10 billion industry.

“The biggest factor that drives pricing is supply and demand. When there are far more people who want to attend an event than there are tickets available, prices go up. If prices are under market value at the onsale, they resell on the secondary market at higher price points,” Ticketmaster said in the wake of the Springsteen ticketing controversy last year. 

With Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, demand also outstripped supply, resulting in Ticketmaster’s website crashing during the ‘Verified Fan’ ticket sale.

This prompted US Senator Amy Klobuchar, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, to write to Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino, calling out what she says is “the lack of competition in the ticketing industry”.

The difficulty in booking tickets for the Eras Tour prompted Taylor Swift fans to sue Ticketmaster in December.

“Ticketmaster intentionally and knowingly scheduled a general sale of tickets knowing they would not have the quantity necessary to facilitate the sale,” they claimed.

Most recently, Massachusetts Senator Velis said the bill that he introduced “would add Massachusetts to a list of a growing number of states that have implemented similar policies to ensure consumers know the true cost of their tickets from the onset.”

“There is often a number of additional fees added to the advertised ticket cost that consumers have minutes, if not seconds, to consider if they want to secure their tickets. It is nearly impossible for people to plan how much a ticket will cost to see their favorite artist, and that is simply wrong.”

The bill is currently before the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure.

Carey said fans of Swift, Springsteen, Phish, Beyoncé and Kenny Chesney have reached out in support of the bill.

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