Concerts are intended to be the most authentic and invigorating version of an artist that a fan can experience. However, critics say that Ticketmaster’s methods (for those who can see any method) and the hated company’s seemingly endless quest to be the forever-monopoly of live events are making it increasingly difficult for normal humans to attend such events. So now, for what it’s worth, Congress is sticking its nose in.
It all started Tuesday when Taylor Swift’s highly-anticipated The Eras Tour was scheduled to go on sale for “verified fans.” As the company states on its website, it’s a way of ensuring “real fans get to see the artists they love” and gives “priority access to great tickets.”
The entire intention of this promotion supposedly revolves around the prevention of scalper bots buying up all available tickets and reselling them at inflated prices—think of it as a drawn-out CAPTCHA check but where, even then, only some win the lottery.
Unfortunately, many fans of Swift took a crushing blow to their Taylor hopes upon trying to access the site for the presale. Thousands queued up for tickets, leading to constant website crashes that threw fans further back in line. Keep in mind, this is all only for those “verified” Swift fans, four days before the general public was even scheduled to be granted access to tickets.
And now they never will. As of Thursday, Ticketmaster announced it has officially canceled the general sale of tickets that was set to begin on Friday.
“Due to extraordinarily 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 cancelled,” the company wrote.
Due to extraordinarily 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 cancelled.
— Ticketmaster (@Ticketmaster) November 17, 2022
Ticketmaster also put out a statement on Twitter regarding the main overflow situation Tuesday, citing “historically unprecedented demand.” How ticket-demand for a Taylor Swift show could be “unprecedented” remains unclear, unless the pop goddess has decided to play a bunch of tiny, tiny arenas—which she has not.
— Ticketmaster (@Ticketmaster) November 15, 2022
The inherent problem is that not all fans get verified and, furthermore, not all even get a spot in the queue. Additionally, the limited number of tickets available through the Verified Fan and dynamic pricing systems also tends to soar the prices of those available.
One fan who wasn’t lucky enough to get a spot in the queue immediately felt better upon glancing at the insane prices; good seats set you back at least $350. And, of course, that is before the verified, human scalpers get their hands on them for upwards of $21,600.
“It wasn’t that surprising [not getting in the queue] and I wouldn’t have paid the price for the tickets anyways,” she told us. “I think paying thousands of dollars for any concert is ridiculous and I wouldn’t do it.”
Another fan, who was verified and gained entry into the queue, says the website “was a mess for everyone and Ticketmaster paused everyone’s queues because codes weren’t working.”
She eventually got in but once she did, it was more of the same chaos.
“We were also promised affordable pricing from Ticketmaster [$49-449], however when I got in to get tickets even nosebleeds were $300 which means they implemented dynamic pricing,” she said. “Some people paid half of what I paid and got better seats [because of dynamic pricing] and some people in central time zones waited over four hours only for their presale to be sold out.”
What is catching the attention of Capitol Hill, however, is the widespread belief that Ticketmaster is an “unchecked monopoly,” as Rhode Island Congressman David N. Cicilline has said.
Pearl Jam was among the first major acts to try to counter Ticketmaster’s role as the nation’s main live entertainment impresario back in the ‘90s, but the power of the company has only grown after it purchase Live Nation in 2010, one of the country’s only other super-powered event and artist management providers.
“Ticketmaster’s excessive wait times and fees are completely unacceptable, as seen with today’s @taylorswift13 tickets, and are a symptom of a larger problem,” Tweeted congressman David Cicilline, who oversees the House committee on competition and anti-trust. “It’s no secret that Live Nation-Ticketmaster is an unchecked monopoly.”
It’s no secret that Live Nation-Ticketmaster is an unchecked monopoly.
— Congressman David N. Cicilline (@RepCicilline) November 15, 2022
Queens, NY Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also chimed in, echoing Cicilline’s concerns.
“Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, it’s merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in,” she said. “Break them up.”
Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, it’s merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in.
Break them up.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 15, 2022
This has been a continuing issue for concertgoers, with a similar situation taking place back in July. Bruce Springsteen fans were caught off guard when going to Ticketmaster’s site to check out pricing. Mid-range floor seats were listed between $4,000 and $5,000, with “less desirable” seats going for a bit less.
This was due to the aforementioned dynamic pricing system, in which Ticketmaster ostensibly fluctuates the price of seating based on how many people they think would want them. As we put it back in July, “it is simple supply and demand, with a little extra something for the supplier.”
The same thing happened with the recent Blink-182 reunion tour, with Billboard reporting that ticket prices had reached $600 for the pit. Bassist Mark Hoppus even shared that he had also failed to get tickets, saying that he “had tickets yoinked from my cart and the whole thing crashed out.”
Last month, the same issue was addressed President Joe Biden, who expressed concern regarding the increasing number of monopolies and hidden concert ticket fees.
“I know hidden junk fees – like processing fees on concert tickets – are a pain. They’re unfair, deceptive, and add up,” He wrote. “That’s why, last week, I called on my Administration to crack down on these fees and put that money back in your pocket.”
I know hidden junk fees – like processing fees on concert tickets – are a pain.
They’re unfair, deceptive, and add up.
That’s why, last week, I called on my Administration to crack down on these fees and put that money back in your pocket.
— President Biden (@POTUS) November 3, 2022
For now, Ticketmaster will remain the unfortunate go-to for attempting to attend most concerts. Swift went ahead and added an additional 25 shows to her tour due to the demand, but has remained quiet on the matter. Five of the total tour dates will be at SoFi Stadium in August.