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Some 300 musicians, from Diplo to Nile Rodgers, lobby Congress for ticketing reform

From left, Nile Rodgers, Chappell Roan and Diplo are among the more than 280 musicians who signed a letter to senators in support of concert ticketing reforms.
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images; Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images; Leon Bennett/Getty Images for MBJx David Yurman
From left, Nile Rodgers, Chappell Roan and Diplo are among the more than 280 musicians who signed a letter to senators in support of concert ticketing reforms.

What do Billie Eilish, Dave Matthews and Diplo have in common?

As of Thursday, they are among the more than 280 popular musicians who have signed a letter urging lawmakers to help reform the concert ticketing system.

Other prominent signatories include Becky G, Duran Duran, Fall Out Boy, Finneas, Graham Nash, Green Day, Nile Rodgers, ODESZA, Chappell Roan, Cyndi Lauper, Indigo Girls, Jason Mraz, Sia, Sylvan Esso and Lorde.

"We are joining together to say that the current system is broken: predatory resellers and secondary platforms engage in deceptive ticketing practices to inflate ticket prices and deprive fans of the chance to see their favorite artists at a fair price," the letter reads.

It goes on to say that the use of illegal bots, speculative ticket listings and deceitful advertising causes "real harm," including severing the relationship between artists and fans — "which forms the backbone of the entire music industry" — and allowing resellers to profit more than the artists themselves.

The artists are asking the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to help fix those problems by supporting the Fans First Act, which was introduced by a bipartisan group of senators last December. It was referred to and remains before the committee, which would need to approve it to bring it to a floor vote.

"We, as artists, as music lovers, and as concert attendees ourselves, urge you to support the Fans First Act to combat predatory resellers' deceptive ticketing practices and the secondary platforms, which also profit from these practices," the letter continues. "Predatory resellers should not be more profitable than the people dedicating their lives to their art."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who along with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement Thursday that she will "keep working to pass this legislation."

"Buying a ticket to see your favorite artist in concert is like going through a gauntlet for too many Americans," Klobuchar said. "This is hurting music fans and it's hurting artists. That's why our bipartisan legislation to improve the ticketing experience has growing support, including hundreds of major musicians."

The Fans First Act focuses on three priorities: ticket sales transparency, consumer protection and stopping bad actors.

It would require live event ticket sellers and resellers to disclose more information about ticket costs and seat location, refund customers the full ticket price when events are canceled and create a reporting website for fans to file complaints.

"Even better, it backs all these regulations up with clear penalties and enforcement," the letter says.

The letter was organized by Fix the Tix, a coalition of over two dozen live event industry organizations led by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA).

Since its formation in the fall of 2023, it has called on Congress to enact legislation that would protect fans from price gouging, ban fake tickets and ticket-buying bots, end fraudulent resale practices and ensure price transparency, among other reforms.

So how did this letter come together, and why now?

NIVA Executive Director Stephen Parker told NPR over email that industry groups representing artists — such as the Recording Academy and Music Managers Forum - U.S. — are a "critical part" of Fix the Tix's efforts.

"Artists engaged in those organizations heard about our efforts and volunteered to lend their voice to getting comprehensive ticketing reform passed," he said. "The letter is being sent now because time is running out in this Congress for the Senate and House to meaningfully address the predatory resale platforms and ticket brokers that plague fans and artists."

Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, have come under increased scrutiny from artists and fans in recent years who accuse the companies of maintaining a monopoly over the industry ever since their controversial 2010 merger. Live Nation has repeatedly denied the allegations.

In particular, Ticketmaster's chaotic sale of Taylor Swift Eras Tour tickets in November 2022 left scores of fans empty-handed and outraged. Several state attorneys general launched investigations, a group of Swifties sued the companies for fraud and the Senate grilled Live Nation executives at a January 2023 hearing.

Lawmakers have since introduced several aptly-named bills to reform various aspects of the industry, like the TICKET Act and the BOSS and SWIFT Act.

For its part, Live Nation expressed support for the Fans First Act when it was first introduced in the Senate in December.

"We believe it's critical Congress acts to protect fans and artists from predatory resale practices, and have long supported a federal all-in pricing mandate, banning speculative ticketing and deceptive websites, as well as other measures," it said in a statement shared with NPR.

The Justice Department is said to be ramping up its antitrust probe into Live Nation, with unnamed sources telling the Wall Street Journal and Axios in recent weeks that the agency could file a lawsuit as soon as May.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.