Tickets for Taylor Swift’s Eras tour should officially go on sale this month. It did not go very well.
The 52-day tour will be Swift’s first performance since 2018 and will take her to America’s most beautiful stadiums in the spring and summer of 2023. In the past four years, the singer-songwriter has released four albums, including “Midnights” this year and two others recorded and re-released due to an ongoing dispute for her former label.
Swift is one of the most popular artists in the world; thanks to streaming, ten songs from “Midnights” entered the Billboard Top Ten chart upon the album’s release.
Demand for the tour is at an all-time high and, to help fight scalpers and their bots, Ticketmaster (LYV) – Get a free report has a Pre-Verified system that it claims should help get tickets into the hands of real fans.
But when the presale for verified fans started, Swifties faced long waits in the Ticketmaster queue. The website has also reportedly crashed several times.
The company said in a statement that “a historically unprecedented demand” resulted in “intermittent issues” that it “urgently” needed to resolve.
Many fans were frustrated at not getting tickets that immediately pop up on second-hand resale marketplaces like StubHub, which is owned by eBay (eBay) – Get a free report. A ticket for a floor seat at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium went for $21,600. Ticket prices originally started at $49 for general admission with VIP packages starting at $199.
The internet shook with the anger and tears of scorned Swifties, who brought their best memes to excorate the party.
Swift later joined the chat and said in a statement that “there are a host of reasons why people had such a hard time getting tickets and I’m trying to figure out how to improve this situation in the future.”
“I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them multiple times if they could meet this kind of demand and we were confident they could,” Swift continued in an Instagram story. “It’s really amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them felt like they went through several bear attacks to get them.”
Ticketmaster responded by pointing to the unprecedented demand for the tour, noting in a statement that “we’ve historically been able to get huge volumes to the site to buy tickets.”
“This time, however, the staggering number of bot attacks and fans not having codes drove unprecedented traffic to our site, resulting in 3.5 billion system requests – 4x our previous peak,” Ticketmaster continued.
Following the backlash, Ticketmaster halted official sales for Taylor Swift’s tour. But this problem has not gone away and it seems that public pressure to do something about Ticketmaster is reaching a new level.
Ticketmaster’s problems may only get worse
Following the backlash, several prominent lawmakers, such as California Representative Katie Porter, Rhode Island Representative David N. Cicilline, and New Jersey Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr., called for an investigation into Ticketmaster and Live Nation , who control about 70% of the live music and ticket sales markets
New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the 2009 merger between Ticketmaster and LiveNation should never have been approved and should be aborted.
Expanding on this in an interview with Rolling Stone, Ocasio-Cortez said that LiveNation has become an untethered monopoly that controls the music industry, and that the situation is “the lack of effective competition and [getting rid of those deals] is something to discover. It would be very bad if this merger is settled.”
“From promotion to ticketing to venue accommodations and merchandise, all these things from start to finish fall under one entity, and it makes it very difficult for artists or even the market itself to introduce choice,” she added. “One thing I hope would happen is that each of those entities could even pursue their own arrangement. But having everything under one roof affects the entire live music supply chain.”
In the interview, Ocasio-Cortez is calling on the Justice Department to investigate the company to “reveal how serious its abuse of market share and power is, and how it has played a role in the prices seen by ordinary consumers.”
The Justice Department’s antitrust division is reportedly investigating. The New York Times reports that it has “reached out to music venues and ticket market players, with questions about Live Nation’s practices and the broader dynamics of the industry.”
Ticketmaster no doubt hopes this problem goes away, but instead the public relations headache seems to be getting worse.
Congress to hold Ticketmaster hearings
America is in a fairly divided cultural moment, but anger over high ticket prices, service fees and reports that the company is reserving tickets for its own resale service is all that often unites Democrats and Republicans.
The topic was discussed earlier this year on “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.”
In October, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT) announced that a U.S. Senate antitrust panel will hold a hearing on the lack of competition in the concert industry.
The date of the hearing and the witnesses will be announced at a later date. The Tennessee Attorney General also announced an antitrust investigation.
“Last week, the competition problem in the ticketing market became painfully apparent when Ticketmaster’s website abandoned hundreds of thousands of fans trying to buy concert tickets,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “The high rates, disruptions and site cancellations that customers have experienced demonstrate how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position ensures that the company is not under pressure to continuously innovate and improve.”
In response to the rumors surrounding the DOJ investigation, Live Nation released a new statement saying that “Live Nation takes its responsibilities under the antitrust laws seriously and does not engage in conduct that would warrant antitrust litigation, much less injunctions that would require that it would change fundamental trading practices.”
“There has never been any evidence and there is now no evidence of systematic violations of the consent decree,” claims LiveNation. “It remains against Live Nation policy to threaten venues that they will not get Live Nation shows if they do not use Ticketmaster, and Live Nation will not redirect content in retaliation for a lost ticket deal,” the company added.
Will furious Swifties finish the job Pearl Jam started in the 90s when they boycotted Ticketmaster and filed a complaint with the US Department of Justice?
It’s completely too early to say. But as much as Ticketmaster would like to shrug off this debacle, it seems countless groups have bad blood with the company, when the ticket company may have learned all too well never to anger another Taylor Swift fan again.