It’s (not) a love story between Taylor Swift fans and Ticketmaster after the general sale for the U.S. leg of the pop star’s Eras Tour was canceled by the events company Thursday.
Originally scheduled to take place Friday, Ticketmaster said the general sale was a no go due to “extraordinarily high demand” for the tickets during the pre-sales and insufficient remaining inventory.
The pre-sale for the pop star’s first tour in five years began on Tuesday, with Ticketmaster sending Verified Fans unique codes that allowed them to buy up to six tickets for most of the 52 Swift shows scheduled at arenas across the country. But the whole process quickly turned to chaos, with some codes not working and digital queues of thousands of fans vying for tickets for each show date.
Ticketmaster quickly postponed the second pre-sale, for Capital One credit card holders, an entire day to fix the system glitches. But fans were already distraught and frustrated.
Despite the fact that the Verified Fans system was supposed to prevent bots and scalpers from snapping up tickets ahead of real concertgoers, they quickly appeared on the secondary market, listed for thousands to tens of thousands of dollars in some cases.
At the time of this article’s publication, a ticket on the secondary market for the show scheduled for March 24, 2023 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas was priced at $23,520. A single floor ticket for the May 12, 2023 show in Philadelphia was listed for $45,000. Ticketmaster says “90% fewer tickets are currently posted for resale on secondary markets than a typical on sale, which is exactly why the artist team wanted to use Verified Fan to sell their tickets.”
When asked for comment, Ticketmaster pointed Fortune its website, where it wrote that it received 3.5 billion system requests on its site during the pre-sale, and sold over 2 million tickets on Tuesday alone, the most tickets it has ever sold in a single day. Earlier this week, the company said it was seeing “historically unprecedented demand” for tickets to Swift’s tour, and asked fans for patience.
“Historically, working with Verified Fan invite codes has worked as we’ve been able to manage the volume coming into the site to shop for tickets,” the company wrote in a blog post. “However, this time the staggering number of bot attacks as well as fans who didn’t have invite codes drove unprecedented traffic on our site.”
Many fans have turned to Reddit, TikTok, and Twitter to vent their frustrations, blaming Ticketmaster and Swift herself for their inability to get tickets. They’ve also started discussing what they perceive as Ticketmaster’s monopoly on the live events space, a message amplified by politicians like Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who tweeted that the company’s merger with Live Nation “should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) sent a letter on Wednesday to Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Live Nation Entertainment, about the Swiftian chaos.
“I write to express serious concerns about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its
harmful impact on consumers,” Klobuchar wrote. “Reports about system failures, increasing fees, and complaints of conduct that violate the consent decree Ticketmaster is under suggest that Ticketmaster continues to abuse its market positions.”
Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in 2010, almost immediately setting off criticism that the move allowed Ticketmaster to jack up prices and add unnecessary fees.
Ticketmaster says that based on the volume of traffic to its site during the pre-sales, Swift would need to perform over 900 stadium shows to satisfy her fans’ desire to see her live. She currently has 52 shows scheduled in the U.S. throughout next year. International dates haven’t been announced.
Swift has yet to comment publicly on the ticket situation, and her fans have never heard silence quite this loud.
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