NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee lawmakers are hoping to cut down on the “Bad Blood” between Ticketmaster and other ticket vendors and consumers looking to purchase tickets to their favorite artists.
After massive technical issues were reported during the Verified Fan Presale of Taylor Swift The Eras Tour tickets last year, the ticket vendor and its parent company Live Nation have come under fire for monopolistic business practices, prompting investigations by the Department of Justice and calls for national lawmakers to break up the media giant and the ticket company.
In Tennessee, lawmakers are also looking to stop third-party resell price gouging Evermore in order to give average citizens a “fair shake” at tickets for their favorite artists.
Sen. Heidi Campbell (D—Nashville) has two bills before the legislature that would address large ticket vendor issues such as the one Ticketmaster had during the Taylor Swift presale event.
The first is SB1043, brought in the House by Rep. Caleb Hemmer (D—Nashville), which would require a third-party ticket reseller to disclose “specific information” on the cost of a ticket and prohibit a reseller from holding back more than 45% of tickets available.
“Ticketmaster has become a big problem for everyone—both artists and fans. We’re really thinking that we need to do everything we can to rein that in,” she said.
The bill would require resellers to list the cost of the ticket without fees, additional mandatory fees; additional fees charged by the reseller and the total cost of the ticket with fees at the beginning of a transaction rather than the end, according to its text. Additionally, the bill would require that 55% of the tickets available for an event “must be sold, or offered for sale, to the general public.”
If the reseller does not do the above, the bill says, the vendor would be violating the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act of 1977.
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“Tennessee is an entertainment region capital but yet we have so many people that can’t access or afford these tickets, so we think it’s a problem we’re solving,” Hemmer said of the bill. “I think the third-party ticket resellers have basically gone unchecked in the state. Normal fans, artists and venues are not getting a fair shake. It’s something we wanted to target and give a little more fairness to the process for Tennesseans.”
According to Hemmer, legislators used research from the New York Attorney General that found an average of 50% of tickets were held back by resellers for different events. In fact, Hemmer added, they found one instance where 93% of tickets for a Mariah Carey concert in another state were held back.
The other bill Campbell introduced in the Senate is SB1523, which would cap additional ticket fees at 15% of the original ticket price as well as require the transparency of the costs and fees. It is carried by Rep. Bo Mitchell (D-Nashville) in the House.
“I think a lot of people don’t like having unfair and expensive fees put on due to monopolistic business practices,” Hemmer said. “The White House just put out a study and recommended some of the very things that we have in our bill, just yesterday, in fact. They showed a wide range of ticket resellers had at least a 20% increase in service fees. When you start tacking on the facilities fees, processing fees, and whatever fees they come up with, it could increase the ticket price by 50%. That’s just unfair to citizens, artists and venues, and that’s what we’re trying to tackle with this piece of legislation.”
Like the other bill, a violation of this proposed law would constitute a violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act of 1977.
“A violation of this section is considered an unfair or deceptive act or practice affecting trade or commerce,” the bill says in part.
Both Campbell and Hemmer are optimistic about the legislation’s chances of passing this session.
“We’re working on that, and I’m really optimistic about it,” Campbell told News 2. “I think a lot of people are supporting that. Hopefully Ticketmaster will support it, because it’s a huge problem for them as well.”
“We have to work the bill and make sure it’s a good bill. No bill is perfect. There’s a lot of varying opinions. We’re going to work it hard, and I feel very good about our chances,” Hemmer said.
If passed, both bills would take effect July 1 this year.
They were both referred to the House Banking & Consumer Affairs Subcommittee but have not yet been placed on the agenda.
Hundreds of bills will be up for debate during the 113th General Assembly. Tennessee lawmakers shared their thoughts on some of the major issues up for discussion at this year’s legislative session.
You can also find daily coverage from the session here.