Walker: Ticketmaster is going down


makaiyla willis CC BY 2.0 [Wiki Commons]

Taylor Swift fans exposed Ticketmaster for unreasonably priced tickets and unorganized selling process.

John Robert Walker, Staff Writer

Hours in line for presale codes, ticket sale queues crashing and hiked up ticket prices are the new norms for buying tickets to concerts and events online. The experience is chaotic and stressful for event goers, but there is no way around it. Ticketmaster has monopolized concert ticket sales.

After years of resellers and dynamic pricing, you would think artists would have given up on Ticketmaster and trusted another company with their ticket sales, but that is not an option. After merging with Live Nation in 2010, Ticketmaster took control of over 70% of the market for ticketing and live events. When the merger between the two companies took place, the U.S. Department of Justice recognized the lack of competition in the ticketing sector and required Ticketmaster to divest some of its business to competitors, but the efforts were unsuccessful.

Ticketmaster’s failures and control of the market have been a topic of discussion several times over the years when fans of big name artists, including Harry Styles and Olivia Rodrigo, spoke up after struggling to get tickets to their respective tours. However, it took the world’s most famous pop star’s fanbase’s, the Swifties, to take Ticketmaster’s horrible customer service and propel this issue to national attention. 

Soon after the release of her 10th studio album, Midnights, Taylor Swift announced her long awaited tour, the Eras Tour. Like many artists with large fan bases returning to the live performance scene after several years, the demand for tickets was high. Even with a stadium tour across the country and the addition of 25 shows to the initial tour schedule, many fans still were unable to get tickets or had to pay ridiculous prices for resale tickets – some reaching prices in the thousands. 

In an interview with CNBC, Chairman of Live Nation Entertainment Greg Maffei blamed the crashing of the queues during the Eras Tour Verified Fan presale on the unexpected traffic on the site. However, that is the fault of Ticketmaster’s lack of preparation and flawed Verified Fan system.

In efforts to combat resellers creating skyrocketing prices after presales, Ticketmaster created the Verified Fan system in 2017, which requires fans of artists to input their personal information within a registration window for a chance at codes to a presale. For the Eras Tour, 1.5 million Taylor Swift fans were verified for the presale.

However, on the day of the Eras Tour presale, an unexpected 14 million people hit Ticketmaster’s site, including bots, crashing the queue and causing long wait times. The reason so many people were able to access the site during the presale was because there was no code required to join the queue. The presale code only needed to be entered after making it through the queue to the ticket purchasing window.

Taylor Swift fans, politicians and seemingly the entire world took to social media to complain about the technical issues on Ticketmaster’s site and the miserable experience of getting tickets. Some, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, even went as far as calling Live Nation Entertainment out for violating antitrust laws.

The public’s discontent with Ticketmaster finally paid off when it was publicly announced the DOJ opened an antitrust investigation into the owner of Live Nation Entertainment. The New York Times reported the investigation has been ongoing over the last several months, but Swifties likely expedited that process.

Even if the DOJ determines Live Nation Entertainment does not violate antitrust laws and the company is able to stay intact, it is definitely time for a new player in the primary ticket sector. I am open to giving Ticketmaster a chance to revamp the Verified Fan system and get rid of dynamic pricing to appeal to fans, but they are running out of strikes. All we ask is for tickets in the hands of fans for less than an arm and a leg.