Taylor Swift’s Ticketmaster Chaos Reveals A Much Bigger Live Music Problem
Breaking Ticketmaster probably wasn’t on the cards this year — but is there anything Taylor Swift and her swifties can’t do?
Holding all of the top ten songs on the Billboard Hot 100, fans have helped make the pop star’s tenth album Midnights her most successful to date. And with the announcement of her 2023 Era’s tour, according to Ticketmaster eager Swifties “could have filled 900 stadiums”.
Instead, millions of fans were made to jump through hoops to secure a ticket and millions more missed out.
A week on, Ticketmaster has officially apologised to Taylor Swift and her fans.
We want to apologize to Taylor and all of her fans – especially those who had a terrible experience trying to purchase tickets. We feel we owe it to everyone to share some information to help explain what happened: https://t.co/1Gn4kRIvq8
— Ticketmaster (@Ticketmaster) November 19, 2022
Now that the spotlight is on Ticketmaster, cracks are starting to show in the monopolistic power that has semi-ruled the live music industry for more than a decade.
Swifties “Breaking” Ticketmaster
Ticketmaster was warned that there was going to be a higher than average demand for Swift tickets.
It’s Taylor’s first concert in over five years, and the singer is absolutely dominating the music scene at the moment. But even after reassuring Swift’s team multiple times that they could handle the surge, the company’s just-for-fans presale was riddled with bugs and delays.
14 million users and bots tried to buy tickets, which broke all records — a total of 3.5 billion total system requests were made on the 15th November, which is four times Ticketmaster’s previous peak.
Things got so bad that resale tickets skyrocketed to $42,000.
Ticketmaster were forced to cancel the general public sale for the following day.
Swift weighed in on social media to say how amazing it was that 2.4 million people got tickets, but that she was “pissed off” that a lot of fans felt like they went through “several bear attacks to get them”.
🚨| Taylor Swift publicly addresses ‘The Eras Tour’ ticketmaster situation pic.twitter.com/ttMNjrgVxS
— The Eras Tour (@tswifterastour) November 18, 2022
So Who Is At Fault Here?
The breakdown is proof that the intensity of Swift’s fandom right now shouldn’t be underestimated. Yet this story isn’t just about how many fans Swift has, and is more about how much power Ticketmaster wields.
Ever since Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation in 2010, lawmakers in the US have accused Ticketmaster of strangling competition in live-entertainment ticketing and harming consumers.
And even before the Swift chaos, the US Justice Department said it had opened an antitrust investigation into Live Nation Entertainment, on whether it has abused its power over the multibillion-dollar live music industry.
The Unravelling Of Australia’s Live Music Scene
Things aren’t any better on home soil.
From the chaos that was this year’s Splendour in the Grass, artist managers and booking agents have also raised serious concerns with The Sydney Morning Herald about the market consolidation, specifically around Live Nation.
Live Nation is just one part of a powerful trio of foreign-backed companies “collectively controlling at least 85 percent of the Australian live music market”.
It runs more than a dozen Australian music festivals like Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival as well as music agencies, venues and also ticketing companies like Ticketmaster and Moshtix.
Their biggest rival is TEG who owns Australia’s largest ticketing agency Ticketek.
One can only imagine where this leaves smaller players trying to compete in the market.
The State Of Live Music Post Pandemic
With three years worth of shows being squished into one, the glorious comeback we expected for music post pandemic has been far from that.
Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, and Gang of Youths have all cancelled or rescheduled their tours, citing difficulties with money and mental health.
View this post on Instagram
Lorde on her Solarpower tour has expressed that “for pretty much every artist selling less tickets than I am, touring has become a struggle to break even or face debt”.
Meaning the biggest stars might be the only ones that can afford live gigs moving forward.
Beyoncé and Rihanna are speculated to announce their first tours in years. We can only hope that Ticketmaster sorts their shit out before then and are held accountable for any misuse of power.