Ticketmaster to Taylor Swift and a Nation of Angry Swifties: We’re Sorry
Ticketmaster knows it has a crisis on its hands. “We want to apologize to Taylor [Swift] and all of her fans—especially those who had a terrible experience trying to purchase tickets,” the typically “our way or the highway” agency said in a statement late Friday. This came at the end of a brutal week in which the organization failed at its core function: selling tickets to upcoming events. If that weren’t enough, the company got harshly dissed by arguably the biggest star in the galaxy, and then found itself under investigation by the Department of Justice on charges of abusing its market dominance. (The look into whether the company’s methods and potential monopolization of the industry predates the Swift debacle, but sometimes the timing of things works out nicely.)
After days of headline-making ticketing chaos, Swift made a statement on Friday in which, without naming Ticketmaster or its parent company, Live Nation, essentially said, “these guys botched it.”
“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,” she wrote on Instagram. “It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.”
The music industry’s biggest current draw, known for maintaining a nurturing relationship with her innumerable fans, had been on the receiving end of some unusual criticism from her acolytes, who were vexed that their attempts at purchasing tickets to her upcoming The Eras Tour were unsuccessful, despite assurances that pre-sale registration of “Verified Fans” would lead to smooth sailing. Demand was so high it crashed the site. (If you were a non-Swifie trying to access cloud-based tickets for something else during that time, you were out of luck.)
Furthermore, Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing model led to ludicrous rates during the mayhem for those lucky enough to even get to the purchase point in the online queue. And then, despite it all, bots and scalpers started putting the coveted seats up on resale sites. (The least expensive current listing for an individual ticket on StubHub for the Saturday night gig at East Rutherford, New Jersey’s enormous MetLife Stadium, with a concert capacity record well over 85,000, is about $800 for a sky-high perch behind the stage.) All this before the commencement of general sales, which has since been canceled.
In their statement, Ticketmaster admits they did not anticipate demand. Quite a thing for the leading (only?) company that services the delivery of tickets for large-scale tours like this. One would think that it would be in their interest to keep a finger on the pulse of who is popular.
What this means going forward remains a little ambiguous. As mentioned, the planned public offering has been nixed, due to “insufficient remaining ticket inventory.” (Is the total of remaining seats zero? Unclear.) The statement concluded by saying that the company is “working to shore up our tech for the new bar that has been set by demand for the Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour. Once we get through that, if there are any next steps, updates will be shared accordingly.”
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is leading the charge of antitrust concerns against the company, which has only grown larger since its 2010 merger with parent company Live Nation to form Live Nation Entertainment. “Ticketmaster is the story of a monopoly gone wild,” she said. “They are a vertically integrated giant with Live Nation that can drive up prices and offer subpar service.” (Little known fact: the Saudi Arabian government has a $1 billion stake in the company.)
Anyone who has bought tickets to an event at a venue larger than a club (and, in many cases, even at a club!) has surely scratched their heads over the various vague fees. Pearl Jam has been railing against Ticketmaster since 1994, but ultimately realized they simply couldn’t put on shows without them. In the end, it looks like the woman who took the time to re-record her back catalog when seemingly trapped in a rotten publishing deal may be the only one to deliver us from evil.