Arts and Entertainment

Taylor Swift’s End of Eras Leads to Bad Blood

14 million eager “Swifties” were left heartbroken after Ticketmaster, the world’s largest ticket marketplace, crumbled upon them at the fans’ most dire time.

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“Tomorrow’s public on-sale for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour has been canceled.”

Rising from the torment of box office mobs and overnight stakeouts, Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. has a chokehold on the ticket marketplace. The company was founded to expand accessibility for music and sports fans across the globe by allowing its users to digitally purchase and sell tickets, but has quickly become inaccessible to middle-class customers. Skyrocketing ticket prices, averaging $3,500 for prominent artists and bands like BTS, have molded concerts into a luxury of the wealthy. With its acts of exploitative penny-pinching, Ticketmaster provides a playground for tricky resellers to parsimoniously gas up prices once original tickets sell out.

In an attempt to conserve the reliability and legitimacy of ticket sales, Ticketmaster has a Verified Fan system for large-scale events. The tedious three-step process to becoming a Verified Fan includes lengthy registration, data analysis, and code distribution to the first customers, allowing them to finally buy tickets. However, this tyrannical website continues to maximize profits off of resales, demonstrated by its cheap efforts to maintain the Verified Fan system. This is because Ticketmaster is paid twice the amount of fees on resold tickets.

The recent scramble to acquire concert tickets for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour has shed light on Ticketmaster’s underlying issues. As this tour is Swift’s first concert in five years, millions of fans were determined to purchase tickets to her shows. However, the task of obtaining tickets was onerous, with many fans describing the experience as chaotic and stressful. During the purchasing process, users were instructed to input their personal information to continue to the next step. However, they received repetitive error messages and codes from the lagging website, preventing them from doing so. Ticketmaster reported that 14 million users were attempting to purchase the Tour tickets, instead of their anticipated 1.5 million. Among those, not all users had the same intentions—many were scalpers, fraudulently utilizing cheap internet bots to rapidly purchase original tickets. The competitive spirit of the driven users led many of them to wait for six hours for a chance to purchase tickets, with many still left empty-handed after the demanding process.

Following the whirlwind of complaints about the website from enraged fans, Swift addressed the fiasco: “It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.” Many fans continued to try to acquire tickets, with some publicly (and successfully) bartering their services, including a full tattoo sleeve in exchange for original tickets. Ticketmaster responded to the situation with a formal apology to both Swift and her fans for the horrible user experience and the cancellation of public Eras Tour ticket sales without further explanation: “Due to extraordinary high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand, tomorrow’s public on-sale for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour has been canceled.”

At the end of the day, the debacle boils down to one large blame game. It is a war between Ticketmaster and Swift. Ticketmaster, as a company, selfishly prioritized profits over the user’s experience, but what business under capitalism has not? Without any real competition for ticket sales, Ticketmaster has been gifted with the power to drop its standards comedically low with the knowledge that almost every artist will crawl right back to it. Hence, artists and fans have no other options, and are forced to accept the company’s dire antics. Even Swift, who is equipped with knowledge of Ticketmaster’s lack of authenticity and reliability, is stuck with it. Other ticket-selling platforms, such as Eventbrite and StubHub, have little evidence proving they can handle such a grand tour. It was inevitable that Ticketmaster would take advantage of its control over the music industry, and the only way to break this agonizing ownership is through strict government intervention.

Amid the aftermath of the fiasco, the Justice Department revealed that LiveNation, Ticketmaster’s owner, is now under investigation for violations of antitrust, or anti-monopoly laws. However, the Eras Tour catastrophe was not the primary reason for this investigation. Ticketmaster was already under inspection before Swift’s situation, as it is notorious for its poor quality and tremendous fees. Pearl Jam, one of America’s biggest rock bands, faced its controversy and subsequent boycott against this ticketing giant in 1994. With the numerous scandals against Ticketmaster, the government still turned a blind eye to the looming disaster resulting from the approved merge of LiveNation and Ticketmaster in 2009. To avoid repeating these mistakes, further investigation must lead to real action to outsmart the Big Bad Wolf of tickets.