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Sad, beautiful, tragic: The struggle of getting ‘Eras Tour’ tickets
April 20, 2023
November 15 is a day that will live in infamy, a day to never forget. It was the day of the botched Taylor Swift Eras Tour presale. If you ever want to make a Swiftie mad, just drop the magic word: Ticketmaster.
After the release of her much-anticipated Midnights album—which topped charts and broke the record for the most streamed album and artist on Spotify—Swift announced an even more anticipated tour. As she hasn’t been on tour since 2018, to claim that Swifties were ‘excited’ would be the same as calling spring break much needed: a gross understatement.
While every Taylor Swift sale has been marred by stress and technical difficulties, this presale was truly unprecedented. In a hope to avoid bots and resellers, Ticketmaster created its Verified Fans program in which fans would sign up to get presale confirmation. The plan was that there would be another presale held for Verified fans who were also Capital One cardholders. And then finally there would be a general sale for the public. Let’s just say things didn’t go quite to plan.
By the end of the initial presale Taylor Swift fans had learned two things: 1. What a monopoly is and 2. However long you think buying tickets will take—triple it.
Whether it was being booted out of the purchase screen or having tickets snatched from their cart before they could purchase, many fans reported technical difficulties. Some fans then had to wait for hours in a queue before making it to the purchase menu.
The presale was such a failu—we mean success—that Ticketmaster decided to go ahead with phase two; another presale for Capital One cardholders. As anyone could guess, the second sale was such a mess that even Ticketmaster threw in the towel after selling a whopping 2.4 million tickets and canceled the general sale due to “limited supply”. According to Ticketmaster’s statement explaining the botched sale, 14 million people attempted to get presale tickets.
Junior Ruby Fairman tried to get tickets with a friend during the fateful presale and ended up feeling discouraged.
“[Ticketmaster] just kinda dropped the ball,” she says. Even though Fairman and her friend did end up getting a hold of tickets later, she said that Ticketmaster really screwed up and left them feeling like, ‘This is basically pointless.’
For Fairman, Ticketmaster hadn’t taken the necessary steps to prepare for the wave of interest that was to come when tickets were released.
“Ticketmaster was underprepared. I don’t think they really understood the power of Swifties.”
While some people are blaming Taylor Swift for this debacle, it should be said that she doesn’t control who sells tickets for her concerts—the venues are the ones that partner with companies such as Ticketmaster. Swift came out with a statement expressing anger and regret, “It’s really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties,” she said, “and excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse.”
Fairman believes Ticketmaster is the one to blame. “It was their fault. They should be held accountable… I think this is their opportunity to grow and maybe for other conversations to be started.”
While Fairman may have come to terms with the sale, other fans have not. A group of 26 fans sued Ticketmaster, accusing the company of anti-competitive practices and fraud. This public outcry from Swifties also caused lawmakers to question the 2010 merger of LiveNation and Ticketmaster, which some are arguing created a monopoly.
A monopoly, for anyone unfamiliar, describes when one company exclusively controls the market in terms of a commodity or service. Monopolies are destructive because they cancel out the very competition that pushes companies to innovate for consumers.
A hearing was held in Congress on Jan. 24 in which both senators and witnesses accused the 2010 merger of creating a monopoly. Afterall, in 2018 it had been reported that Ticketmaster controlled 80% of the ticketing market. Witness, CFO and President of LiveNation, Joe Berchtold, also spoke at the hearing and pushed back on the claim that they control 80% of the market or that they are a monopoly at all. Berchtold apologized for the sale and acknowledged room for improvement but claimed that the real problem is the bots that attacked the system.
But why should anyone other than aggravated Swifties care about Ticketmaster, LiveNation, or monopolies? Well it’s about more than just Taylor Swift or her tour: it’s about dismantling a capitalist system that favors businesses over us—the consumers.
Whether you think Ticketmaster could’ve done a better job (they totally could have) or believe they’re are a monopoly (they totally are) is up to you, but to wrap this up, we’ll leave you with some favorite one liners from the hearing:
From Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal: “Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say: ‘I’m the problem. It’s me.’”
And from Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar: “You can’t have too much consolidation. Something that, unfortunately for this country, as an ode to Taylor Swift, we know ‘all too well.’”