Taylor vs. Ticketmaster

Photo posted by @tayloraccess on Instagram

“The Great War” is not only a song from Taylor Swift’s latest album, but it’s also the way fans are referring to the ticket purchasing process for her recently announced United States tour. Over the past few years, Taylor’s popularity has grown exponentially. From releasing her own version of fan favorite albums such as Fearless and Red, to showcasing new music through her latest albums Folklore, Evermore, and Midnights, the years since her last tour in 2018 have only strengthened her fan base. Despite this being impressive for Taylor as an artist, it did raise concern about ticket demand for the Eras Tour.

The concerns proved to be true, but the results of what has unfolded have gone beyond just a few hundred upset fans. For those who may not know, Ticketmaster essentially has a monopoly over live music ticket sales, due to the Live Nation and Ticketmaster 2010 merger, allowing them to perpetuate unreasonably high ticket prices and completely control the ticket-buying process. Not only is it a monopoly, but it is also a site that has proven not to be sustainable when faced with high demand, even with a Verified Fan process. The inability of Ticketmaster to handle ticket sales has left both fans and the general public confused, upset and angry.

What is Verified Fan?

Similarly to many other popular artists, Taylor uses the Verified Fan feature of Ticketmaster to decide who can gain access to the presale. On social media, many Swifties expressed frustration about the Verified Fan process, since it has proven to be a feature that verifies your humanity, rather than actually verifying you as someone who actively listens to Taylor Swift’s music.

The process of being verified took some people hours due to heavy traffic on the site, foreshadowing what was to come when the actual ticket sale took place. Once fans were verified, they were given the message that presale codes would be sent out on November 14th. Due to the extremely high demand, it became clear that not every verified fan would be given a presale code.

Many Swifties asked friends and family members to register as fans to increase their likelihood of getting a code. This strategy highlighted how random the process truly is, with some longtime fans receiving no code, while friends with no history of listening to Taylor Swift received codes instead. For dedicated Swifties, this meant that they had to trust others to go through the ticket-purchasing process for them.

The Presale

On the morning of November 15th, fans were ready at their laptops to face what was about to be the most competitive concert ticket-purchasing process in history. From skipping work to having the website up in class, Swifties all over the country were ready to do what they needed to acquire tickets. Once the clock hit 10:00 a.m., 14 million people, including bots, were trying to make a purchase. How many were supposed to have access? 1.5 million.

Some fans were lucky and were able to move through the queue quickly, but this was not the majority. Most people were hit with the dreaded “2000+ people in front of you” message, and for others, their presale code did not even work. At one point, the queue was paused for nearly an hour due to how overwhelmed the site was.

By the end of the presale, over 2 million tickets were sold, which is the most tickets ever sold for one artist in a day. According to Ticketmaster, the amount of traffic to the site would be enough to fill 900 stadium shows, which is 20x the amount of shows Taylor Swift is doing for this tour.

The Aftermath

As expected, fans were extremely upset by the presale process. Many Swifties faced hours of waiting in the queue, only to not even be able to buy tickets. Some fans that were able to get tickets expressed feeling guilty on social media, since so many people faced frustrations and various glitches throughout the process.

In reaction to what happened, Ticketmaster released a statement on their website to address the events of the presale. In this statement, they explained that for past ticket sales, around 40% of invited Verified Fans actually purchase tickets for shows, at an average of three tickets. For the Eras Tour, they were faced with unexpected traffic from bots and fans without presale codes. By the end of the presale, they had over 3.5 billion system requests, which is four times their previous peak.

Following the presale, Capital One cardholders were able to gain access to purchasing tickets as promised, but other fans were not so lucky. Ticketmaster announced on November 17th that they would be canceling general ticket sales, due to high demands on ticket systems and insufficient ticket inventory,

Moving Forward

As a result of the general ticket sale cancellation, fans were enraged. Some fans directed their anger toward Taylor herself, while others solely blamed Ticketmaster. The next day, Taylor released a statement expressing her frustration toward Ticketmaster and standing by fans, showing Swifties that she was just as upset as they were.

Statement posted by @taylorswift on Instagram

In an attempt to explain themselves, Ticketmaster did issue an apology on Twitter to Taylor, with a link to the previously mentioned statement. Many fans were unamused, with some top replies saying, “Apology not accepted” and “You can apologize by refunding us our service fees since we didn’t receive any service on your end.”

In an interesting turn of events, the issues faced by Taylor Swift fans when using Ticketmaster turned into something much greater than simple frustration. Due to the power Ticketmaster has over live music ticket sales, the Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into the owner of Ticketmaster. Live Nation Entertainment, the overarching company, released a statement claiming they take antitrust laws seriously. Their justification for Ticketmaster’s large share over primary ticketing services is said to be because of a lack in quality of the next best ticketing system.

Tweet posted by @nytimesmusic

It is unclear how Ticketmaster will move forward following this complete ticket sale disaster. Not only have they left millions of fans disappointed and enraged, but they are also under serious investigation. It is likely that high ticket resales will not be completely preventable, but many Swifties remain optimistic that they will somehow acquire tickets for one of the shows, and that the ticket purchasing process will be revised for future tours.

Were you able to purchase Taylor Swift tickets? Tweet us your experience at @VALLEYmag!


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