Taylor Swift's Eras Tour Broke Ticketmaster & “ME!”
I think there’s been a glitch.
I’ve been a Taylor Swift fan since I heard “Teardrops On My Guitar” play on Radio Disney in 2006. Yep, I’ve been to every one of her five tours and even watched her as an opening act for Rascal Flatts. In middle school, I learned over 30 of her songs on my guitar, a guitar called a Baby Taylor, BTW. My dedication as a Swiftie has never budged, even when she was “canceled” by Kim Kardashian. However, the ongoing Ticketmaster debacle has changed my perspective on what it means to be a fan this week. Swifties are citing ridiculous ticket wait times and wildly inflated prices as reasons for reconsidering their excitement for her 2023 Eras Tour. I’m one of them. You could say this has all caused me to realize “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.” But the truth is, for the first time in my life, I’m a little Swiftied out, and I’m not the only one.
On Monday, Nov. 14, fans (see: me) waited all day to hear if they qualified for Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan status, which essentially lets you buy tickets before the general sale begins. The emails from Ticketmaster came out in batches, so I had no idea where I stood until 10:35 p.m., when I received an email confirming my spot on the Verified waitlist. This was OK, because I’d fortunately have access to the Capital One pre-sale at 2 p.m. that afternoon, meaning I’d still have a chance to purchase tickets before Friday’s general sale started.
I never got that far because of demand and tech issues, plus, the Capital One ticket sales were moved to 2 p.m. the next day. Even though I logged on at 1:42 p.m. (aka, a whole 18 minutes ahead of the assigned start time), there was a total of 28,000 (!) people ahead of me in line. They ran out of tickets at 4:30 p.m, at which point 15,000 people virtually stood ahead of me. The presale left thousands of fans disappointed, only for Ticketmaster to then announce on Nov. 17 that the general sale was canceled following “insufficient” inventory.
I’m well aware myself and other fans aren’t guaranteed tickets, even though I was in Taylor’s top .05% of Spotify listeners. What’s more disappointing is that Swift, an artist who actively encourages her fans to devote time and energy to unpacking every detail of her projects (hello, Easter eggs), hasn’t spoken up or provided reassurance to her prospective concertgoers. As one fan on TikTok put it, “I’ve never heard silence quite this loud.” (Below is me at 4:33 p.m. after finding out there weren’t any tickets left).
The fiasco has now escalated, so much so that political figures have entered the chat. Government officials like Reps. David Cicilline and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both Democrats, have called Ticketmaster — which is owned by Live Nation Entertainment after their merger in 2007 — a monopoly. (Liberty Media owns a majority stake of Live Nation.)
In short, Ticketmaster’s monopolized sales process has made it virtually impossible for fans to get tickets. Now, Swift fans — the ones who have bought her albums, streamed her music, and supported her all along — are facing the brunt of the unchecked corporation’s power.
Ticketmaster introduced Verified Fan in 2017, and the idea was to make sure that fans — real ones, not bots — could easily get tickets. At least, that’s how their PR team spun it. In reality, Verified Fan hasn’t done anything to ensure tickets are going to Swifties. Right now, floor seats are being re-sold on StubHub for $12,915 and the nosebleeds are listed for over $500.
Of course, Ticketmaster’s response to the Eras Tour drama failed to settle irate Swifties’ emotions. In a Nov. 17 interview with CNBC, Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei blamed the havoc on bots and Swift herself. “It’s a function of Taylor Swift. The site was supposed to open up for 1.5 million verified Taylor Swift fans. We had 14 million people hit the site, including bots, which are not supposed to be there,” Maffei said.
As much as I’d love to blame all of this on Ticketmaster, the responsibility does lie with Swift, too. While her fans were in the trenches of Ticketmaster hell, Swift was celebrating her 2023 Grammys nom on Instagram. "The fact that it's nominated for Song of the Year at the Grammys, an award I've never won, that honors the songwriting… it's momentous and surreal," Swift wrote on her Stories. "I want to ramble about the magic and mystery of time and fate and reclaiming my art but instead I think I'll go scream for ten minutes straight.” She added a special note to her fans: "And think about how this wouldn't have happened without you."
Taylor, I love you, but please read the room. The Eras Tour tickets were part of Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing model, which determines the price of tickets based on demand. Although some artists like Ed Sheeran and The Arctic Monkeys have opted out of this pricing model, that wasn’t the case for this tour, despite 3.5 million fans registering for the presale. As Live Nation’s CEO Michael Rapino pointed out during Liberty Media investor day on Nov. 17, it was a “record registration” and “4 times [they’ve] ever done." Clearly, they were not ~ready for it~.
Even those who got tickets felt let down by the entire experience. One fan on TikTok explained, “I paid $700+ for the SAME SEATS I paid $150 for at [the Reputation Tour] cuz that’s all that was left despite having Loverfest priority and merch boost. Taylor, I’m so excited to see you, but this is truly unethical.”
Although I still desperately want to go to see the Eras Tour live — what Swiftie wouldn’t want to hear “Love Story” IRL again? — this whole experience has given me the ick. Even if I do manage to get tickets, which is looking less and less likely unless I want to shell out rent money, I’m not sure I’ll be able to shake off this experience entirely.
Despite what I’m sure will be Swift’s best efforts to make the bejeweled show shimmer like a pristine diamond, this Ticketmaster debacle is turning out to be cubic zirconia — fake and a little overpriced.