Tuesday, November 15th, 10 am. Around the country, people logged onto their computers, preparing themselves for battle. With folklore cardigans around their shoulders like armor and a Midnights vinyl on the record player as a war cry, millions logged onto Ticketmaster.com to undergo the most challenging part of their journey as Swifties: buying concert tickets.
After the release of her 10th studio album, Midnights, Taylor Swift announced her “Eras Tour” on November 1st, much to the joy of her fans. Due to the pandemic, Swift’s tour “Lover Fest,” for her seventh album, Lover, was canceled, so she hasn’t been on tour since November 2018.
This has caused demand for tickets to the “Eras Tour” to go through the roof. Swift has always been a major player in the music industry, with many fans calling her the industry itself, but with the record-breaking releases of Folklore, Evermore, Fearless (Taylor’s Version), Red (Taylor’s Version), and Midnights, her fame has only grown in the past 3 years.
On November 15th, pre-sale tickets for “The Eras Tour” opened to pre-sale code holders. According to Ticketmaster themselves, 1.5 million presale codes were distributed via their “Verified Fan” system, as an effort to prevent bots and ticket scalpers from claiming tickets. However, presale codes didn’t prevent an overwhelming amount of traffic on the Ticketmaster site (3.5 billion total system requests, according to Ticketmaster).
What should only have taken fans two hours to do, took some five or more hours because of how unprepared Ticketmaster was for the demand. The site was breaking as Swifties tried to check out, losing their tickets and places in line.
Fans all around the country were outraged, not only at their lack of tickets, but at Ticketmaster’s response.
“ [Ticketmaster] could have distributed presale codes more sparsely and made fans use their codes to sign in.” One Taylor Shift fan expressed how Ticketmaster handled this situation better, “But they didn’t.”
It was due to the overwhelming levels of traffic that so much of the site broke down. If they had denied access to all but Verified Fans, it would’ve been easier and more efficient for fans to purchase their tickets.
Another issue came up with “Lover Fest” ticket holders. Lover Fest, Swift’s proposed tour for her Lover album, would’ve been a festival experience as opposed to a traditional tour. They were scheduled for the summer of 2020. However, due to the pandemic, the tour was canceled. When The Eras tour was announced, those who had tickets to Lover Fest were promised a “boost” in line to help them get tickets for this event, making up for the cancelation of the previous tour.
This proved to not be the case, as many went to social media to explain the boost had no effect. Another fan explained that “ [Ticketmaster] shouldn’t have promised or alluded to a promise they couldn’t keep.”
The disastrous ticket sale ended when, on November 18th, Ticketmaster canceled the general sale. Millions were indignant. Their only option to get a ticket to see Swift is to purchase an incredibly marked-up ticket from a third party. These prices range anywhere from $575 to $4,950 for one of Swift’s Philadelphia shows.
The frustration has erupted into a lawsuit against Ticketmaster by 26 outraged fans from all over the country. Since Ticketmaster’s merger with Live Nation in 2010, they’ve been scrutinized for their firm control over both artists and fans. The “The Eras Tour” incident has increased attention to their practices. This lawsuit alleges that Ticketmaster has a monopoly on both primary and secondary markets and that it has engaged in several antitrust violations.
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It reads, “Defendant’s anticompetitive behavior has substantially harmed and will continue to substantially harm Taylor Swift fans…” The plaintiffs seek $2,500 for every violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law.
As of now, there have been no significant updates to the situation, as general ticket sales are still paused. We can only hope that there will be some kind of solution. Until then, the ticket sales company is still the Anti-Hero and the Story of Us (and Ticketmaster) might be ending soon.