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‘It’s called capitalism’: Ticketmaster’s ex-CEO defends the company’s business model

Five men and one woman stand in a wood panelled room with their right arms raised.

As It Happens10:40‘It’s called capitalism’: Ticketmaster’s ex-CEO defends the company’s business model

People frustrated with Ticketmaster are just lying in the bed they made themselves, insists the embattled company’s former CEO.

Fred Rosen, an attorney who ran the ticket-selling company from 1982 to 1998, has been watching the U.S. Senate hearings on Ticketmaster with frustration.

U.S. lawmakers are looking at competition and consumer protections in the live entertainment industry. At the heart of the hearings is the Taylor Swift pre-sale fiasco, when more than 3.5 million people registered for a Ticketmaster pre-sale for the pop star’s concert tour, and the system crumbled under the pressure. 

Fans and artists alike have lashed out at the company. Several U.S. senators are calling for more regulation and oversight, accusing Ticketmaster of holding a virtual monopoly.

But Rosen says Ticketmaster is just an easy target. Here is part of his conversation with As It Happens host Nil Köksal. 

Is Ticketmaster the problem? Are fans directing their frustration to the right spot?

There were [3.5 million] attempts to get into the Ticketmaster system. No system on the face of the Earth can do that.

It’s easy to blame Ticketmaster and say it’s their fault. But here’s the truth. I’m fairly sure that the representatives of the act were told not to put all the shows on sale at one time. And they chose to do it anyway. 

In the normal course of events, if there’s enough tickets and enough events and enough times and enough evenings that the act’s playing, you would handle that. 

So what you’re saying is that Taylor Swift’s team, or Taylor Swift herself, put too many shows on the market all at once?

I would have not put all the shows on sale when you knew the demand was going to be that excessive. 

Joe Berchtold, left, the CFO of Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation Entertainment, and other witnesses are sworn in to testify before a Senate judiciary committee hearing. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The issues that fans have with Ticketmaster predate any Taylor Swift issues. Ticketmaster was ordered to pay a $4.5-million penalty and $500,000 in costs incurred by the Competition Bureau here in Canada after it investigated allegedly misleading price claims in online ticket sales. In 2018, CBC News investigated Ticketmaster for allegedly recruiting scalpers at a scalpers’ conference. So I … 

You asked me to discuss Ticketmaster, not what happened after I left. I wasn’t…

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