Taylor Swift will not be in attendance at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday that will address Ticketmaster’s fiasco managing her ‘The Eras Tour’ concert ticket sales. A lesser-known musician, Clyde Lawrence, will instead speak on behalf of artists.
The hearing titled “That’s the Ticket: Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment,” comes after legions of Taylor Swift fans couldn’t purchase presale tickets through Ticketmaster in November and resellers have started selling limited tickets for upwards of $45,000.
It was a high-profile meltdown that drew attention to what artists like Lawrence argue is a problem with consolidation in the ticketing industry after Ticketmaster and Live Nation merged in 2010, hurting both artists and fans. “As Live Nation leverages its power across the concert ecosystem to increase its profits, concertgoers see higher prices, and artists experience challenging touring dynamics,” Lawrence wrote in the New York Times in December.
Live Nation Entertainment controls 70% of the primary ticketing and live-event venues marketplace and artists, according to the American Economic Liberties Project.
Lawrence will appear at Tuesday’s hearing with top business executives including Joe Berchtold, President of Live Nation Entertainment, which owns Ticketmaster, and Jack Groetzinger, CEO of SeatGeek, a competitor of Ticketmaster. Lawrence, a singer from the band Lawrence, is the only artist scheduled to speak. He’ll be alongside Jordan Cohen, the band’s saxophonist and tour manager.
Here’s what to know about Lawrence.
Who is Clyde Lawrence?
Lawrence, originally from New York City, is known for Lawrence The Band, his soul-pop music duo with sister Gracie Lawrence, and six other instrumentalists. The band has grown in popularity since starting in 2013, with nearly 1 million monthly Spotify listeners and over 170,000 Instagram followers.
Lawrence has also composed for films and television shows including Disney’s Noelle and Steven Spielberg’s Animaniacs on Hulu.
Lawrence has been vocal in the past about his Ticketmaster concerns. His band’s song ‘False Alarms’ contains the lyric, “Live Nation’s a monopoly.” In his December New York Times piece, Lawrence elaborated, “Whether it meets the legal definition of a monopoly or not, Live Nation’s control of the live music ecosystem is staggering.”
Lawrence shared his prepared testimony on the band’s social platforms. “We’re not artists on the level of acts like Taylor Swift or Bruce Springsteen,” he wrote. “What we are, however, are seasoned artists who have toured extensively over the last seven years.”
Lawrence argues Live Nation’s role as promoter, owner, and operator of venues, as well as ticketer, complicates the ideal incentive to “keep costs low while ensuring the best fan experience.” In this scenario, Live Nation has final say on venue costs, merchandise cuts, and ticket fees, which ends up costing both artists and concertgoers, he says.
“We truly don’t see Live Nation as the enemy,” he says. “They are just the largest player in a game that feels stacked against us as artists, and often our fans as well.”
Some fans have expressed support for Lawrence testifying on Tuesday. “Oh god, a crossover between @lawrencetheband and antitrust policy — can my poor heart take it,” tweeted fan Thomas G. Roberts. Another wrote, “This is great! Love the thought and presentation behind this ask. Thank you for speaking up! As a fan, I’m equally as frustrated with LN/TM [Live Nation/Ticketmaster] prices!”
Lawrence plans to close his address to the committee with, “I hope to see some of you at one of my band’s concerts. If you’d like to come, let me know so I can throw you on the guest list and help you avoid the ticket fees.”
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