Is The Taylor Swift Tour Scandal Going to Be Ticketmaster’s Downfall?

Caroline Ejby Bjornvig, Reporter


I had never thought getting tickets to a Taylor Swift concert would be this big of a challenge. I have been to a lot of concerts. From big stadiums to tiny clubs. I have enjoyed indie artists, acoustic music, and big pop productions, and I have always managed to get tickets, even though the demand has been huge. Although, sitting in line for 8 hours at Ticketmaster is something I never thought would occur.

The site crashed when I tried to enter the waiting room, and I was forced to reload six times before I was successfully directed to the queue. I had moved one-fourth of the way into the line in about 50 minutes when the queue was paused altogether. I had to wait 3 hours for the site to get back up. Then, I was kicked out of the queue two times, and when I finally got through, no tickets were left. 

I found myself completely drained of energy after such a stressful and chaotic experience. The problem is that none of this would have happened if Ticketmaster had organized it properly. Instead, the whole thing was so poorly planned, that 14 million people ended up on the site at the same time.

“The site was supposed to be opened for up to 1.5 million verified Taylor Swift fans. We had 14 million hit the site,” Greg Maffei, Liberty Media CEO and Live Nation chairman, told CNBC in an interview where he tried to blame the singer herself for the situation. He claimed in the same interview that she was “too famous” and the crash was a reflection of that.

However, after having experienced the fiasco firsthand, I can attest that the whole thing was an absolute mess. 

You had to enter the personalized presale code – that you had to be chosen for by Ticketmaster and her management. But you had to do this after you got into the waiting room, instead of before when you first entered the queue.  By organizing it the other way, you would have eliminated all the people that did not possess a presale code, and the site would have been fine. 

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what would be an even bigger problem with Ticketmaster and Live Nation. This merger has harmed consumers by creating a near-monopoly. With buying from their website, you buy into their manipulative fees for as high as 78% of a ticket and so-called dynamic pricing, which adjusts the ticket price based on the demand. These terms have resulted in fans either not going to concerts or having to pay an absurd amount of money for it. It ruins the joy and magic of concerts. 

The problem has now reached the Department of Justice. They have opened an antitrust investigation into the owner of Ticketmaster, with the focus on whether Live Nation has been abusing its power over the live music industry. It’s about time if you ask me. 

It should be said that few artists have opted out of their pricing strategy or opted out of Ticketmaster altogether. Maybe you remember Pearl Jam’s 1994 fight with the ticket giant? They filed an antitrust suit against the ticket distributor because they were unhappy with the conditions. However, they ultimately failed, and Ticketmaster continued.

Ed Sheeren is another artist that is important to note. For his recent tour, he refused to sell his ticket with dynamic pricing, and the tickets were affordable for the everyday music lover.

It makes a person wonder, why is every artist not doing so? Well, as Pearl Jam’s said in their case, “It is today almost impossible for an artist or a band to do a tour in larger cities and arenas without having to deal with Ticketmaster,” and this problem only grew worse since 1994. If you want to go on tour, you must go through Ticketmaster, and thereby you are agreeing to the terms and conditions that the company sets up. Terms that are set only to benefit themselves. 

Now the question is, will the new investigation of Ticketmaster finally shut down the monopoly that they and Live Nation have built? I think it is safe to assume that it might. Ticketmaster not only mishandled and failed with the Taylor Swift presales. They failed so badly that they had to cancel the public on-sale.

They announced it on Twitter with the following statement: “Due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory, tomorrow’s public on-sale for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour has been canceled.” Now fans that were not lucky enough to be selected for the presale will not stand a chance of getting tickets. 

This is no longer an issue within the Taylor Swift fandom, but a part of a bigger problem in the music industry. And it is a problem that we at the Devil’s Advocate feel must be fixed to save live music.