The Utah senator joined others in the subcommittee hearing by referencing the pop musician’s words.

(Andrew Harnik | AP) Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, left, speaks with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., right, as during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to consider the promotion of Competition and Consumer Protection in Live Entertainment on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, January 24, 2023.

It might be an overstatement to say Sen. Mike Lee is a Swiftie, but he knows at least a few Taylor Swift songs.

At a Senate subcommittee hearing on Tuesday to investigate concert ticket seller Ticketmaster, the Utah Republican was one of many lawmakers who followed the lead of chairwoman Sen. Amy Klobuchar , D-Minnesota. quoting the lyrics of Swift’s songs.

These quotes exploded on platforms like TikTok and Twitteras the senators referenced some of the artist’s most iconic charts.

There’s one from “Blank Space”, when Lee talked on limiting ticket resales to keep prices low, “I think it’s a nightmare dressed up as a daydream.”

“Karma is a relaxing thought, aren’t you envious of yourself, aren’t you?” Lee said in a clip, drawing inspiration from the track “Karma” from Swift’s latest album “Midnights.”

In another clip, captured by Forbes from the C-SPAN stream, Lee references the classic “You Belong With Me.” “She’s the cheering captain and I’m in the stands,” Lee said of Klobuchar. “It’s nice of Taylor Swift to write a song about this very situation.” (Klobuchar is chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights; Lee is the highest-ranking Republican on the subcommittee.)

Lee put the joke aside to underline the purpose of the hearing: to examine claims that Ticketmaster has a monopoly in the live entertainment market – and whether the company’s dominance in the ticketing industry has led to its spectacular collapse when Swift’s “Eras Tour” tickets went on sale in November.

In 2010, Ticketmaster absorbed Live Nation, a company that owns and operates the majority of concert venues in the United States, including the USANA Amphitheater and The Depot in Utah. The merger, according to many industry critics, made it impossible for artists and fans to use other services to book tours or sell tickets to shows. Swift’s tour, combined with her vast fanbase, prompted scrutiny of Ticketmaster’s market dominance.

Republicans and Democrats grilled Ticketmaster officials during Tuesday’s hearing. They also debated possible measures, including making tickets non-transferable to reduce scalping and demanding more transparency in ticketing fees. Some have suggested it might also be necessary to separate Ticketmaster and Live Nation.

“The thing is, Live Nation/Ticketmaster is the 800-pound gorilla here,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut. “This whole concert ticket system is a mess, a monopolistic mess.”

Live Nation President and CFO Joe Berchtold apologized to fans and Swift on Tuesday, and said the company knew it had to do better. Berchtold said Ticketmaster has spent $1 billion over the past decade trying to improve its security and stop bots.

“We have to do better and we will do better,” he said.

Competitors, like Seat Geek CEO Jack Groetzinger, have said that while Live Nation doesn’t own a venue, it prevents competition by signing multi-year contracts with arenas and concert halls to provide ticketing services. If those venues do not agree to use Ticketmaster, Live Nation may withhold acts. It is therefore difficult for competitors to disrupt the market.

“The only way to restore competition is to separate Ticketmaster and Live Nation,” Groetzinger said.

Lee said on Tuesday that the Justice Department is re-investigating Live Nation after the Swift ticket fiasco. At this point, he said, Congress should ask if the department was right to authorize the merger in the first place.

“It’s very important that we maintain fair, free, open and even fierce competition,” Lee said. “It increases the quality and reduces the price. We want these things to happen.

Editor’s note • The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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