The Utah senator joined others in the subcommittee hearing by referencing the pop musician’s lyrics.
It may be a stretch to say that Senator Mike Lee is a Swiftie, but at least he knows a couple of Taylor Swift songs.
At a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday to investigate concert ticket seller Ticketmaster, the Utah Republican was one of several lawmakers who followed the lead of the chair, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota. when quoting lyrics from Swift’s songs.
Those quotes have skyrocketed on platforms like TikTok and Twitteras the senators referred to some of the most iconic artists on the charts.
There’s one from “Blank Space,” when Lee I speak on limiting ticket scalping to keep prices down, “I think it’s a nightmare masquerading as a dream.”
“Karma is a relaxing thought, you’re not envious of yourself, are you?” Lee said in a clip, drawing on the song “Karma” from Swift’s latest album release, “Midnights.”
In another clip, captured by Forbes from the C-SPAN feed, Lee refers to the classic “You Belong With Me.” “She’s the cheerleading captain and I’m in the stands,” Lee said of Klobuchar. “Nice of Taylor Swift to have written a song about this very situation.” (Klobuchar is chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights; Lee is the ranking Republican on the subcommittee.)
Lee put all jokes aside to emphasize the purpose of the hearing: to investigate claims that Ticketmaster has a monopoly on the live entertainment market, and whether the company’s dominance of the ticketing industry led to its collapse. Spectacular when Swift’s “Eras Tour” tickets sold out. on sale in November.
In 2010, Ticketmaster absorbed Live Nation, a company that owns and operates most of the live music venues in the United States, including USANA Utah Amphitheater and The Depot. The merger, many industry critics say, has made it impossible for artists and fans to use other services to book tours or sell tickets to shows. Swift’s tour, combined with her far-reaching fan base, prompted an examination of Ticketmaster’s market dominance.
Both Republicans and Democrats questioned Ticketmaster officials at Tuesday’s hearing. They also discussed possible actions, such as making tickets non-transferable to reduce speculation and requiring more transparency in ticket fees. Some suggested that Ticketmaster and Live Nation might also need to be split up.
“The fact is that Live Nation/Ticketmaster is the 800-pound gorilla here,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “This whole concert ticket system is a disaster, a monopoly disaster.”
Live Nation President and CFO Joe Berchtold apologized to fans and Swift on Tuesday, saying the company knows it needs to do better. Berchtold said that Ticketmaster has spent a billion dollars over the past decade trying to improve its security and stop bots.
“We need to do better and we will do better,” he said.
Competitors, such as Seat Geek CEO Jack Groetzinger, said that even if Live Nation doesn’t own a venue, it avoids competition by signing multi-year contracts with arenas and concert halls to provide ticketing services. If those venues do not agree to use Ticketmaster, Live Nation may withhold the acts. That makes it difficult for competitors to disrupt the market.
“The only way to restore competition is to split up Ticketmaster and Live Nation,” Groetzinger said.
Lee said Tuesday that the Justice Department is reinvestigating Live Nation after the Swift ticket fiasco. At this point, he said, Congress should ask whether the department did the right thing in allowing the merger to go ahead in the first place.
“It is very important that we maintain fair, free, open and even fierce competition,” Lee said. “It increases the quality and reduces the price. We want those things to happen.”
Editor’s note • Associated Press contributed to this article.