By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the debacle surrounding Ticketmaster’s ticket sale for Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour.” As her first tour in four years, with six albums released in that time, new and old fans alike eagerly anticipated ticket sales. However, Ticketmaster messed up severely and has continued to make things worse for everyone involved since the presale.
According to Ticketmaster, about 1.5 million fans received Verified Fan emails, allowing them into the presale, while about 2 million others were banished to the dreaded waitlist. Because of this, the sale was already becoming a source of disappointment for many fans.
Once the presale began on the East Coast, everything fell apart. Ticketmaster’s website slowly crashed as fans sat in broken queues for hours and faced glitchy carts that wouldn’t secure tickets. Ticketmaster explained the issue as “unprecedented traffic” on the website, stemming from bot attacks and fans without codes. They said there were “3.5 billion total system requests,” four times their previous peak.
For fans that managed to purchase tickets unscathed, the prices were the highest they’ve ever been for Swift’s tours, soaring to over $800 for floor tickets with fees adding hundreds more to the final price tag.
After days of chaos, Ticketmaster announced the cancellation of the general sale due to high demand and insufficient ticket inventory. Even though they stated 2.4 million tickets were sold, this has left fans wondering where the remaining unsold 700,000 tickets will go. The lack of transparency surrounding this entire process has left fans feeling more frustrated.
Additionally, fans couldn’t help but notice how many tickets are now being sold on resale websites, such as StubHub, for prices ranging from the low hundreds to as high as $21,600, according to CNN. Clearly, Ticketmaster’s system did not allow tickets to end up solely in the hands of the fans.
As much as Ticketmaster wants to remain blameless, they are undoubtedly the most at fault here. “The Eras Tour” ticket sale is just one of countless examples of how Ticketmaster preys on fans’ devotion for their own financial gain while providing subpar service. They get away with this because Ticketmaster has a monopoly over the live event industry. They have no reason to stop this despicable behavior and improve because they have no substantial competition.
Fans have struggled to access tickets and watched the prices increase outrageously for years. According to Time, ticket prices are over three times higher than they were in the 90s. Additionally, fees can now be as high as 78% of the ticket price and Ticketmaster holds back as much as 90% of tickets for the secondary market.
These problems mainly stem from the 2010 Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger, which has given the company far too much control over the live event industry. Live Nation boasted its “highest quarterly attendance ever” in its 2022 Q3 earnings report, but they’ve received much backlash because as the activist group, Break Up Ticketmaster Coalition, stated, the company has earned this money from taking advantage of every resource possible, such as charging service fees, taking artist revenue and blocking out independent venues.
In November, President Biden promised to fight back against “hidden junk fees,” including concert ticket processing fees. While that is a start, it’s not enough for the government to only tackle the fees. Many aspects of what Ticketmaster is currently doing shouldn’t be legal. The government must pass laws that will break Ticketmaster up and allow other competition into the industry to make the ticket-buying experience fairer, cheaper and less stressful for consumers.
One ray of hope comes from the Department of Justice, which launched an investigation into Live Nation following the “The Eras Tour” presale that will focus “on whether Live Nation is abusing its market dominance in the ticket industry,” according to CBS News.
I’m glad that some good may come out of such an unfortunate experience for so many. I sincerely hope that the investigation will inspire real change for Ticketmaster and the live event industry as a whole. It’s imperative that Ticketmaster is dealt with. They’ve gone way too far already.
Photo courtesy of Wendy Wei, Pexels.