Swifties broke Ticketmaster: but who is at fault?


Photo Courtesy of Eva Rinaldi via Creative Commons

Taylor Swift performs on stage prior to 2019. Swift has not gone on tour since before COVID-19.

It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me. 

Actually, no it’s not. It’s Ticketmaster that’s the problem. 

I was ecstatic when Taylor Swift announced her long-awaited “Eras Tour.” Set to take place throughout next summer over the span of 52 shows, the tour would celebrate every studio album and re-recorded album Swift released since 2006. Because the tour was so highly anticipated, I knew it would be a challenge to get tickets; however, like every Swiftie in the nation, it was a challenge I was willing to take on.

To alleviate some of the chaos that was expected to occur with such a high demand for tickets, Ticketmaster, who Swift partnered with, enabled their Verified Fan Presale process. Though the presales do not guarantee tickets, the process gave the so-called “verified” fans a code which allowed them the opportunity to purchase tickets before the general public. 

On the evening of Monday, Nov. 14, selected fans who registered for the Verified Fan Presale would receive an email with a password and a link to ticket sales. The following morning at 10, they would have the opportunity to enter the code on the website and buy tickets to their selected show before general public sales were enabled a few days later. While it was a tedious process, it seemed to be well thought-out and planned on behalf of Ticketmaster.

This, however, was not the case. 

On the evening of Monday, Nov. 14, I did not receive an email saying that I had been selected as a Ticketmaster Verified Fan. Instead, I got an email from Ticketmaster telling me that I was on the waitlist to receive a code to buy the pre-sale of tickets. Exhausting, right?

I figured my best chance of acquiring tickets was through the general public sale. However, when I walked into my second period class the next morning, I found that nearly half of the entire class had received pre-sale codes and, in turn, were trying to buy tickets. If so many people – just in my second period AP English class alone – had received pre-sale codes, two things were clear: My chances of attending the Eras Tour were growing slimmer and slimmer by the minute, and Ticketmaster had messed up. 

With the demand for tickets increasing at an even more rapid rate than expected, my friend, who had received the presale code, agreed to buy us tickets. There was a queue before we were even directed to the site where we would buy our tickets, and naturally, wait times were long. In our case, we waited seven hours in a virtual line before we were redirected to a separate site to purchase tickets. Once we got to the site, we ran into a new issue: nearly every seat was sold out.

I argue that Ticketmaster was just unprepared for the indispensable task of handling a Taylor Swift tour.

After many failed tries at purchasing tickets and a site crash later, around 8 p.m., we gave up. Our last hope at acquiring tickets was with the public sale.

However, the next day, Ticketmaster canceled the general public sale because of technical issues and –are you ready for it?– a lack of inventory. 

Ticketmaster responded to the outpour of criticism they were receiving from the situation by blaming the unprecedented traffic of the site. The traffic was caused by the bombardment of bot attacks, as well as fans who didn’t have presale codes trying to get tickets. While this may be part of the reason for the site’s failure, I argue that Ticketmaster was just unprepared for the indispensable task of handling a Taylor Swift tour.

The company released a statement following the incident, explaining that over four million people registered for the Verified Fan Presale, and of that number, 1.5 million received codes to buy tickets. Considering how quickly tickets sold out, however, it is fair to assume that Ticketmaster misestimated how many people with the presale code would actually try to get tickets. 

Moving forward, Ticketmaster needs to limit the amount of fans who receive presale codes and allow fans who did receive codes to be the only people allowed on the purchase site in that time frame. In doing so, this will allow for a smoother shopping process for fans, while generating less traffic to the site. In addition, this will allow more fans to have the opportunity to purchase tickets at a later date once general sales open.

Ultimately, Ticketmaster mishandled the highly anticipated Eras Tour, however, with the large amount of press that the fiasco generated, it is fair to assume that future tours will be handled in a more organized, efficient manner.