Tickets for Taylor Swift’s new “Eras” tour went live on November 16, but due to high demand, it caused the Ticketmaster website and service to experience a drastic slowdown, sparking outrage.
This slowdown and technical issues ultimately led Ticketmaster to cancel sales entirely for the tour, saying that more than two million tickets were sold on Tuesday, the most ever sold for a single artist in a day.
In a now-deleted blog post, Ticketmaster explained that demand was so high for the Taylor Swift tickets that its “Verified Fan” system, which hopes to eliminate bots, simply couldn’t keep up. In the blog post, Ticketmaster stated “Never before has a Verified Fan on sale sparked so much attention – or uninvited volume. This disrupted the predictability and reliability that is the hallmark of our Verified Fan platform.”
In order to buy Taylor Swift tickets users had to register for Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan service, which then gave them a special access code and a spot on a waiting list. This made the entire process arduous, locking many out of ever even having the opportunity to purchase a ticket as they were stuck in the queue line. Fans were also quick to notice that resale tickets on sites like StubHub have been going for upwards of $20,000 dollars, leading many to question Ticketmaster’s ability to stop bots and ticket scalpers.
The whole Taylor Swift ticket debacle has also started drawing the gaze of politicians, creating worry about the stranglehold that Ticketmaster and Live Nation have on the ticketing market. Senator Aby Klobuchar wrote an open letter to Ticketmaster’s CEO, saying she had “serious concerns” about the company’s operations after the debacle on Tuesday.
Klobuchar writes “Ticketmaster’s power in the primary ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically push companies to innovate and improve their services. That can result in the types of dramatic service failures we saw this week, where consumers are the ones that pay the price.”
Shortly after that, Tennessee attorney general Jonathan Skrmetti announced he was investigating if Ticketmaster violated both consumer’s rights and antitrust regulations in regard to the Taylor Swift tour sale. Skrmettia argues that Ticketmaster should have been better prepared knowing it was the only platform selling tickets, and he questions if the company felt like they didn’t need to worry “because they have such a dominant market position.”
Market dominance and monopolization continue to be a hot topic in the United States, and President Joe Biden even recently criticized the “junk fees” that ticketing companies lump into surprise and take advantage of consumers.