Monopoly Uncovered: FAU discusses red flags in the music industry

FAU students and faculty give their perspective on recent problems in the recording industry.


Courtesy of Hoot Wisdom Records.

Isabella Visbal, Contributing Writer

In the past decade, the landscape of the music industry has changed drastically with the internet age setting new and above standards for recording artists. However, recent controversy has followed questioning whether or not artists and fans are being exploited by both companies and executives.

As an example, Ticketmaster was once a small online ticket seller until it merged with another online ticketing platform, Live Nation, in 2010. Since then, the company became a “monopoly” within the music industry.

The user experience has been seen as complicated. A situation that highlighted this experience was during the sale of Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour”, where the website had crashed due to the high volume of expected ticket buyers and high fluctuating prices. 

Swifties at FAU is a fan club that was founded this school year with the hopes of connecting Taylor Swift fans within the FAU community. Eliana Hausman, the president of it, shared she  “waited for hours and hours in line” and resale prices were expensive.

Following this incident, the U.S. Senate held hearings this past January to investigate the accusations of the company acting unethically towards both artists and consumers. Ticketmaster’s President and Chief Financial Officer Joe Berchtold defended their role in the dysfunctional chaos during Swift’s sale. 

Clyde Lawrence, a band member of the band “Lawrence”, spoke on the behalf of other music artists who have issues with Ticketmaster at the Senate hearings. One of the main controversial issues discussed was the high price of “service fees” that customers pay once they complete a purchase. 

“We actually ask the venues in advance, they say that is a Ticketmaster thing,” said Lawrence during the hearing. 

Berchtold claimed that Ticketmaster should not have the responsibility to set said prices, but instead the venue of the event does. Regardless, fans are still upset over the Taylor Swift sale and wish the incident would result in change that will prevent something like it from happening ever again.

“They claim to be focused on the fans, but it just shows very differently,” said Hausman.

However, Ticketmaster is just one of many examples of how the music industry can be exploitative of artists.

Though the music industry comes with many benefits and successful moments, there are many obstacles that must be faced. Upcoming artists need to be careful when starting their careers and should understand the basic concepts of protecting themselves from corruption. 

FAU’s Hoot/Wisdom Recordings is a professional record label on campus that is open to all students and faculty free of charge. It is used for curriculum purposes, but is also available for anyone at FAU to sign up and record their own songs and albums. Any student or faculty member can upload their music to any streaming platform with help from the record label.

Michael Zager, director of commercial music and president of Hoot/Wisdom Recordings. Courtesy of Hoot Wisdom Records.

Michael Zager, director of commercial music and president of Hoot/Wisdom Recordings, has experience in the field as a composer and producer since 2002. In this position, he oversees all operations and reports back to the research department to discuss the progress that the company is achieving. 

In order to prepare students for potential challenges they may face as musical artists, FAU’s commercial music program includes a class in legal issues and marketing, the label also provides background information regarding the importance and significance of progressional contracts according to Zager. 

Students can learn before they enter the music industry outside of FAU thanks to this. In other words, Hoot/Wisdom Recordings “serves as a professional training ground,” said Zager.

Those interested in joining a hit-or-miss industry need to be prepared for anything that comes their way, according to Zager. Pursuing a career in singing is not only about singing, the entrepreneurial aspect of this career comes with many difficulties one must endure.

“It’s a question of how long you can stand rejection and not letting it get you down”, said Zager, who believes having perseverance and confidence is one of the most important elements to success, “If you’re not prepared for that, then it’s not for you”. 

Isabella Visbal is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or DM on Instagram @isabellavisbal.