A Primer on the Taylor Swift Ticketmaster Controversy

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Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is one of the most popular artists of all time, and her following of incredibly loyal fans certainly has a reputation. Fans aren’t happy with ticket-selling company Ticketmaster now, due to a site outage on the day when ticket pre-sales for Taylor’s upcoming tour began. Here’s everything you need to know about the Taylor Swift Ticketmaster controversy.

What’s all the fuss about?

A few weeks ago, Taylor Swift announced her new tour, “The Eras Tour,” her first tour since 2018. Swift has had a huge year between the release of her new album Midnights and the ongoing sales of her two “Taylor’s Version” re-released albums in 2021. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that demand for tickets to the tour would be hot, but nobody predicted quite how hot.

On Tuesday, November 15, tickets for the tour became available for presale on Ticketmaster, the most popular ticket sales and distribution platform in the world. Just moments after the pre-sale began at 10 am ET, Ticketmaster’s website went down. Users attempting to access Ticketmaster’s website were greeted with a 503 error and were unable to purchase tickets.

Ticketmaster’s high fees

Customer frustrations with Ticketmaster aren’t the only reason people are angry with the company right now, as users have had issues with the platform’s high fees for quite some time. Following the initial ticket-buying rush on Tuesday, ticket prices for concerts during Swift’s tour skyrocketed to as high as $14,000 for good seats, and close to $1,000 to sit in the nosebleeds.

Swift’s reaction

Swift understands that many fans are incredibly motivated to see her in concert, and she seems to be worried about the issues they have with obtaining tickets. In an Instagram story on Friday, Swift said about Ticketmaster, “It’s really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties, and excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse.”

In response to the unprecedented demand for tickets, Swift has added 17 additional dates to her tour, hoping that this will allow more fans to view the shows and at more affordable rates.

Senate antitrust panel

The root cause of the Taylor Swift Ticketmaster fiasco seems to be the monopolistic control the company has over the ticket-selling industry. After the complaints from so many of Swift’s fans, the U.S. Senate’s antitrust panel will be investigating the issue.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, who will be heading the committee, said that “the high fees, site disruptions and cancellations that customers experienced shows how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company does not face any pressure to continually innovate and improve.” 

Will Ticketmaster be broken up?

Pressure to innovate and improve is the point of antitrust laws, so if this Senate committee finds that Ticketmaster is in violation of those laws, the company could be forced to break up by the Department of Justice.

Senator Klobuchar continued on to say, “We will hold a hearing on how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry harms customers and artists alike.” This hearing and whatever action the Department of Justice takes against Ticketmaster will hopefully help improve the competition in the marketplace and let alternative ticket retailers help lower event prices for Taylor Swift fans and everyone else.

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