The Utah senator joined others in the subcommittee hearing citing the pop musician’s remarks.
It might be hard to tell if Sen. Mike Lee is a Swiftie, but he knows at least a few Taylor Swift songs.
At a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday to investigate concert ticket seller Ticketmaster, Utah Republican Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, was one of several lawmakers to follow the chairman’s lead. Quoting Swift’s songs.
These quotes went viral on platforms like TikTok and the like Twittersenators as a reference to some of the artist’s most iconic chart-toppers.
There’s one from the movie Blank Space, Lee spoke about restricting ticket sales to keep prices down, “I think it’s a nightmare dressed up as a dream.”
“Karma is a comforting thought, you don’t envy it, do you?” Lee said in a clip, filming the track “Karma” on Swift’s latest album, “Midnights.”
In another clip captured by Forbes from a C-SPAN tape, Lee references the classic “You Belong to Me.” “He’s the cheerleader and I’m in the stands,” Lee said of Klobuchar. “It’s great that Taylor Swift wrote a song about this 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 his banter aside to emphasize the purpose of the hearing: to investigate claims that Ticketmaster monopolizes the live entertainment market — and whether the company’s dominance of the ticketing industry led to Swift’s spectacular collapse when tickets for her Eras Tour went on sale. On sale in November.
In 2010, Ticketmaster acquired Live Nation, a company that owns and operates most of the live music venues in the United States, including Utah’s USANA Amphitheater and The Depot. According to many critics of the industry, the merger made it impossible for both artists and fans to use other services to book tours or sell tickets to shows. Swift’s tour has led to scrutiny of Ticketmaster’s market dominance, along with its extensive fan base.
Both Republicans and Democrats heckled Ticketmaster officials at Tuesday’s hearing. They also discussed possible actions to reduce scalping, including not transferring tickets and requiring more transparency in ticket prices. Some have suggested that Ticketmaster and Live Nation may need to be split up.
“The thing is, Live Nation/Ticketmaster is the 800-pound gorilla here,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut. “This whole concert ticket system is a mess, a monopolistic mess.”
Live Nation president and chief financial officer Joe Berchtold apologized to fans and Swift on Tuesday and said the company knows it should have done better. Berchtold said Ticketmaster has spent $1 billion over the past decade to improve security and stop bots.
“We must do better and we will do better,” he said.
Opponents, such as Jack Groetzinger, CEO of Seat Geek, say that Live Nation stifles competition by signing multi-year contracts with arenas and concert halls to provide ticketing services even when it does not own a venue. If those venues don’t agree to use Ticketmaster, Live Nation can stop the acts. This makes it difficult for competitors to disrupt the market.
“The only way to restore competition is to break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation,” Groetzinger said.
Lee said Tuesday that the Justice Department is reinvestigating Live Nation after the Swift ticket fiasco. At that point, he said, Congress should ask whether the department was right to allow the merger to proceed in the first place.
“It is vital that we maintain fair, free, open and even fierce competition,” Lee said. “It increases the quality and lowers the price. We want such things to happen.”
Editor’s note • The Associated Press contributed to this article.