‘The Great War’ between Ticketmaster and Taylor Swift

Following a debacle featuring Taylor Swift and her new “Eras Tour,” Ticketmaster is currently in the hot seat from both music fans and the government alike. The “Eras Tour” Ticketmaster fiasco shed light on Ticketmaster’s exploitation of the market and its consumers and they have had enough.

According to an insight by Yale University, Ticketmaster is the largest ticket broker company in the world. The purpose of Ticketmaster was to simplify the ticketing process for not just the consumer but also artists, venues and promoters. Since they began their online ticketing system in 1996, Ticketmaster has grown to become the market leader in online ticket sales. 

After the release of Swift’s new album “Midnights,” she announced the “Eras Tour.” Fan excitement was at unprecedented levels and Ticketmaster was not properly equipped to handle the onslaught of fans that would flock to the site even though they claimed to be.

On the morning of Nov. 15 Ticketmaster’s website crashed due to the obscene number of Swift’s fans attempting to purchase tickets. 3.5 million visitors were on Ticketmaster’s website, 2 million of which would be placed in an indefinite queue. Only a few of the remaining 1.5 million visitors were able to jump further in the queue due to their status as a “Verified Fan,” though, not all of the fans that were promised a jump in the queue received one.

To achieve this status, one must prove their validity as a human by registering for a chance at presale in advance and by previously purchasing tickets and merchandise from Swift’s own site. If the customer is lucky, they may receive a presale code in their email that is valid for one date of Swift’s concerts.

This system was created in order to combat botting, however, the practice is deemed by many as exploitative, as it requires customers to purchase other products from Swift’s site for the slight chance at the opportunity to buy a ticket. Despite this verification method, those deemed as a “Verified Fan” would still encounter dozens of site bugs, overpopulated queues and lack of customer support. 

“I managed to get two tickets after waiting five hours on the Ticketmaster website because I was lucky enough to get a presale code,” said Jessica Rushton, a junior history and political science major. “I think this situation has definitely made people question why Ticketmaster has so much power over buying tickets and why scalpers are able to resell tickets for so much more than face value.” 

Those lucky enough to proceed from the queue were met with exorbitant prices and fees, often in the thousands. A reported 2.4 million tickets were sold in one day, a historic record that caused the general sale to be canceled. 

Frustrated, ignored and empty handed, thousands of Swift’s fans took to social media to air out their grievances. This attracted the attention of mainstream media outlets that would cover the story, placing a light directly on Ticketmaster. In Ticketmaster’s response, they blame a lack of inventory, an unexpected number of site visitors and bots, despite their verification method. Swift also went to Instagram to voice her disappointment in Ticketmaster regarding the situation.

“Ticketmaster? No. Taylor? Yeah, her job is to create music and perform,” said Jennifer McLaughlin, the assistant director of the honors and scholars program. “As an artist myself, if I had to handle my book sales and make sure customers were happy, I’d never have time to write. She did her job—she created music that people want to hear. That’s where her responsibility ends, in my opinion. The rest falls on the company whose job it is to sell her tickets.”

The negative attention led to many criticizing Ticketmaster as a company, bringing to light their oppressive practices and overwhelming control of the ticket distribution industry. 

“I don’t think Taylor had much involvement with this fiasco at all, from what I understand, she warned Ticketmaster about what it could be (and what actually happened),” said Carolyn Purdy, junior psychology major. “I don’t think Ticketmaster responded well. They were unprepared and did not take responsibility for it but blamed it on others. Very immature of them. I’m not happy with Ticketmaster in this situation, they should’ve been more prepared with all the warnings they got and taken responsibility when it went south.”

In 2009, The New York Times reported on a merger worth 2.5 billion dollars with Ticketmaster and their only substantial competition “Live Nation.” 

Also, according to Yale University, Ticketmaster and Live Nation Entertainment now control 70% of the concert ticketing market. This merger also gave the ownership of many of the largest concert venues in the United States to Ticketmaster, essentially cutting out the middle man, and elaborated that venues that are not owned by Ticketmaster are still largely controlled by them.

Their stranglehold on the industry has led to many monopoly and antitrust concerns from the masses but has been largely ignored by government officials until recently. 

“I’m glad that it has gone to Congress, and not just for the speeches with Taylor Swift lyrics,” said Purdy.

Several attorney generals have launched an investigation into Ticketmaster’s practices. Coupled with a senate hearing launched by Amy Klobuchar, chairwoman of the subcommittee on competition policy, antitrust and consumer rights, Ticketmaster is facing the brunt of what antitrust has to offer.