Taylor Swift: Ticketmaster fiasco ‘excruciating for me’

New York
CNN Business

Taylor Swift spoke out on Friday about the ticketing debacle that took place this week, as many fans were unable to purchase tickets for her upcoming tour on Ticketmaster.

“It goes without saying that I am extremely protective of my fans,” Swift wrote on Instagram on Friday. “It’s really hard for me to trust an external entity with these relationships and loyalties, and it’s excruciating to just watch mistakes happen with no way to fix them.”

Swift blamed Ticketmaster for the snafu, noting that there were “a number of reasons why people had such a hard time” getting tickets.

“I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them multiple times if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could,” the singer wrote. “It’s really amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but I’m really angry that so many of them feel like they’ve had to go through several bear attacks to get them.”

Swift added that she would try to “figure out how we can improve this situation moving forward.”

The singer’s new Eras Tour went on sale on Tuesday, but ticket sales were in high demand, angering fans who were unable to get tickets. Customers complained that Ticketmaster was not loading, claiming that the platform did not allow them to access tickets even though they had a pre-sale code for verified fans.

On Thursday, Ticketmaster announced that the general public sale, which was scheduled to begin on Friday, was canceled due to “extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet this demand.”

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“All I can say to those who didn’t get tickets is that I hope to give us more opportunities to get together and sing these songs,” Swift added.

Taylor Swift is one of the most popular music artists.  This popularity made it hard to find a ticket for her new tour.

Trouble for Ticketmaster began Tuesday when the site went on sale to “verified fans” — a mechanism aimed at eliminating bots that provide presale codes to individuals.

The “verified fan” platform was created in 2017 to help Ticketmaster handle high-demand situations, but with more than 3.5 million people pre-registering as Swift’s “verified fan,” the system became overwhelmed. According to Ticketmaster, this is the largest registration in the history of the company.

“Historically, working with ‘Verified Fan’ invite codes worked because we were able to manage the volume coming to the ticketing site,” the company wrote in a blog post on Thursday that has since been pulled. “But this time, the staggering number of bot attacks, as well as fans who didn’t have invite codes, caused unprecedented traffic to our site.”

Ticketmaster noted that “it usually takes us about an hour to sell through a stadium show,” but the site has slowed some sales while delaying others to “stabilize systems.” That stopped everything.

The site appeared to avoid major trouble Wednesday when a pre-sale for Capital One credit card holders began. But the company’s inability to deal with demand for Swift’s tour, as well as a lack of tickets to meet additional demand, essentially killed Friday’s planned general public sale.

Fans blamed Ticketmaster, while others, including members of Congress, harshly criticized the company’s control over the live music industry.

“Ticketmaster’s strength in the primary ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically force companies to innovate and improve their services,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar wrote in an open letter to her CEO on Wednesday. “This can lead to the types of dramatic service failures we’ve seen this week, where consumers are the ones paying the price.”

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Sen. Richard Blumenthal echoed Klobuchar’s concerns, tweeting that the tour “is a perfect example of how the Live Nation/Ticketmaster combination is hurting consumers by creating a near-monopoly.”

“I have long urged the Department of Justice to investigate the state of competition in the ticketing industry,” he said he said. “Consumers deserve better than this anti-hero behavior.”

The Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into LIve Nation, the owner of Ticketmaster, to determine whether the company has a monopoly on the concert market, including ticketing, a source familiar with the matter told CNN. The New York Times first reported the investigation on Friday.

The Justice Department has contacted music venues and other ticket market participants in recent months asking about Live Nation’s practices and industry dynamics, the Times added.

The Justice Department and Live Nation did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

Taylor Swift will kick off her new tour next March.  It will hit 52 stadiums across the US.

The backlash also highlighted Swift’s enormous popularity

The pop star has had countless hits throughout her career, built an extremely loyal following — better known as “Swifties” — and recently became the first female artist to reach every top 10 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 after the release of her latest album, ” Midnights”, which was released last month.

Her Eras Tour – which kicks off in Glendale, Arizona on March 17th and ends in Los Angeles on August 9th – will hit 52 stadiums across the US.

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Ticketmaster noted Thursday that Swift’s upcoming tour sold more than two million tickets on Tuesday — the most in a single day for an artist. The company also said ticket demand for the Eras Tour was double that of the 2022 top five tour and the Super Bowl. combined.

“Based on the volume of traffic to our site, Taylor would need to play over 900 stadium shows (almost 20 times the number of shows she does),” Ticketmaster wrote Thursday. “That’s a stadium show every single night for the next 2.5 years.”

Tickets for Swift’s upcoming tour have also led to astronomical prices on ticketing sites, with some tickets listed for tens of thousands of dollars.

Since her debut album in 2006, Swift has also established herself as a cultural icon with a huge impact on moving the needle on issues in the industry. It has taken over music streaming services like Spotify ( SPOT ) and Apple Music for artist salaries and is currently re-recording its songs to regain ownership of its masters.

In many ways, like Swift, so is the music industry.

Serona Elton, a music industry professor at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, further explained Swift’s popularity by noting her success in both music sales and touring. Most music is now consumed via streaming, she said, which is more popular among the younger generations, who are slightly more feminine.

“The demographic that drives the highest percentage of music consumption see themselves in it and relate closely to what they’re singing about,” she said.

– CNN’s Evan Perez and Tierney Sneed contributed to this report


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