Live Nation Entertainment (LNE) owned Ticketmaster was hit by a cyberattack that caused its website to crash on 15 November, during the first day of the pre-sale for Taylor Swift’s upcoming US tour, according to LNE president Joe Berchtold.

Berchtold (pictured) told the Senate Judiciary Committee today, 24 January, that during the presale period Ticketmaster was “hit with three times the amount of bot traffic than we had ever experienced, and for the first time in 400 Verified Fan on-sales, they came after our Verified Fan access code servers.”

The US Senate’s Judiciary Subcommittee (SJC) On Competition Policy, Antitrust And Consumer Rights organised the hearing to “examine the lack of competition in the ticketing industry” following the issues around the Taylor Swift pre-sale.

In her opening remarks of today’s session, senator Amy Klobuchar said that as well as Ticketmaster being a dominant player in the US ticketing market, LNE’s leading position as a promoter had led to a monopoly: “We have talked to many venues, some of which aren’t willing to come forward, that say that even if they are not out there threatening them they are afraid to go to someone else because then they are not going to get the acts that they want. This is all a definition of monopoly, because Live Nation is so powerful that it doesn’t need to exert pressure, it doesn’t need to threaten, because people just fall in line.”

Berchtold said that since the 2010 merger of LNE and Ticketmaster, the ticketing company had lost not gained market share: “We hear people say that ticketing markets are less competitive today than they were at the time of the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger. That’s simply not true. In 2009, the Department of Justice alleged that Ticketmaster’s market share was over 80%, it’s a different story today. The most obvious change is the emergence of the enormous secondary ticketing market, in which Ticketmaster has a modest market share and many strong competitors.”

He went on to say that Ticketmaster had invested more than $1 billion to improve its ticketing system: “Much of this was on technologies to eliminate fraud, and to get tickets to fans instead of ticket scalpers using bots, a prime example of which is our Verified Fan service. Today’s Ticketmaster is best in class at conducting large on-sales, marketing concerts, preventing frauds and getting tickets into the hands of real fans.”

On the cause of the issues that impacted the Taylor Swift pre-sale, he said, “While the bots failed to penetrate our systems or acquire any tickets, the attack required us to slow down and even pause our sales. This is what led to a terrible consumer experience that we deeply regret”.

Also involved in today’s SJC hearing are SeatGeek CEO Jack Groetzinger, Jerry Mickelson co-founder of Chicago-based promoter Jam Productions, and singer-songwriter Clyde Lawrence.