Tickets were supposed to officially go on sale this month for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. It didn’t go so well.
The 52-date tour will be Swift’s first outing since 2018 and will take her to America’s finest stadiums in the spring and summer of 2023. Over the past four years, the singer-songwriter has released four albums , including this year’s “Midnights”, and recorded and re-released two more due to an ongoing dispute for his former label.
Swift is one of the most popular artists on the planet; thanks to streaming, ten songs from “Midnights” entered the Billboard Top Ten charts upon the album’s release.
Demand for the tour is at an all time high and, to help combat scalpers and their bots, Ticketmaster (LYV) – Get a free report has a pre-verified system which he says is supposed to help get tickets into the hands of real fans.
But when the presale for verified fans started, the Swifties encountered long wait times in the Ticketmaster queue. The website also allegedly crashed several times.
The company said in a statement that “historically unprecedented demand” is causing “intermittent issues” which it is “urgently” working to resolve.
Many fans were frustrated at not getting tickets which immediately started showing up on second-hand resale marketplaces like eBay-owned StubHub. (EBAY) – Get a free report. A ticket to a floor seat at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey cost $21,600. Ticket prices originally started at $49 for general admission with VIP packages starting at $199.
The internet was rocked by the rage and tears of the despised Swifties, who brought their best memes to extort the company.
Later, Swift entered the chat, saying in a statement that “there are a myriad of reasons why people have had such a hard time getting tickets and I’m trying to figure out how this situation can be improved to the future”.
“I’m not going to apologize to anyone because we asked them, repeatedly, if they could handle this kind of request and we were assured 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 had suffered multiple bear attacks to get them.”
Ticketmaster responded by highlighting the unprecedented level of demand for the tour, noting in a statement that “historically we have been able to handle tremendous volume coming into the site to purchase tickets.”
“However, this time the staggering number of bot attacks as well as codeless fans drove unprecedented traffic to our site, resulting in a total of 3.5 billion system requests, or 4 times our previous peak,” Ticketmaster continued.
After the blowback, Ticketmaster canceled the official on-sale of Taylor Swift’s tour. But that problem hasn’t gone away, and it looks like public pressure to do something about Ticketmaster might reach a new level.
Ticketmaster’s problems could get worse
After the blowback, several prominent lawmakers such as California Rep. Katie Porter, Rhode Island Rep. David N. Cicilline, and New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. called for an investigation into Ticketmaster and Live Nation, which control approximately 70% of live music and ticket markets
New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the 2009 merger between Ticketmaster and LiveNation should never have been approved and should be broken up.
Ocasio-Cortez elaborated on this point in an interview with Rolling Stone, saying that LiveNation has become an absolute monopoly that controls the music industry, and that the situation “reveals the lack of real competition and [getting rid of those deals] is something to explore. It would be a really big deal to untie this merger.”
“From promotion to ticket sales to accommodation to merchandise, all of those things from start to finish are under one entity, and it’s very difficult for artists or even the market itself to introduce choice,” she added. “One thing that I would hope would happen is that each of these entities could even pursue their own arrangement. But having everything under one roof touches the whole live music supply chain.”
In the interview, Ocasio-Cortez asks the Department of Justice to investigate the company to “reveal the seriousness of the abuse of market share and power, and its role in the prices that consumers of all days see”.
The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division is considering an investigation. The New York Times reports that he “contacted venues and ticket market players, asking about Live Nation’s practices and broader industry dynamics.”
Ticketmaster is no doubt hoping this problem will go away, but instead, it looks like its PR headache is only getting worse.
Congress will hold Ticketmaster hearings
America is in a fairly divided cultural moment, but anger over high ticket prices, service charges and reports that the company is reserving tickets for its own resale service is the one thing that often manages to unite Democrats and Republicans.
The topic was explored 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 US Senate antitrust panel will hold a hearing into the lack of competition in the gigging industry.
The hearing date and witnesses will be announced later. The Tennessee Attorney General also announced an antitrust investigation.
“Last week, the problem of competition in ticketing markets became painfully evident when Ticketmaster’s website let down hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to purchase concert tickets,” Klobuchar said in a statement. . “The high fees, site disruptions and cancellations customers have experienced show how Ticketmaster’s dominant position in the market means the company is under no pressure to innovate and continually improve.”
In response to rumors of the DOJ investigation, Live Nation issued a new statement saying that “Live Nation takes its responsibilities under antitrust laws seriously and does not engage in behavior that could warrant antitrust litigation, without talk about orders that would require him to change fundamental business practices.”
“There has never been and there is currently no evidence of systemic violations of the consent decree,” LiveNation claims. “It remains against Live Nation policy to threaten venues that they will not get Live Nation broadcasts if they do not use Ticketmaster, and Live Nation does not redirect content in retaliation for a lost box office agreement “, added the company.
Will the rabid Swifties finish the job Pearl Jam started in the 90s when they boycotted Ticketmaster and filed a lawsuit with the US Department of Justice?
It is quite too early to tell. But as much as Ticketmaster would love to shake off this debacle, it seems many bands have bad blood with the company as the ticketing company may have learned too well never to piss off a Taylor Swift fan ever again.