Taylor Swift’s tour chaos prompts probe into ticketing industry

When Taylor Swift announced her first tour in five years, Jacob Landry couldn’t wait to line up to see his favorite artist take the stage.

But after diligently registering and receiving a presale code, the 20-year-old jazzman for his first gig was faced with a massive queue, venue issues and skyrocketing costs.

Landry’s experience is far from unique: Thousands of social media users have reported similar experiences, including 19-year-old Kathryn Berry, who told AFP that the process that ultimately left her with nosebleed seats in Nashville turned into “a thirteen-hour ordeal.”

Berry said she was “happy to have tickets, but definitely resented Ticketmaster for a while.”

For many music fans, this grudge is long-standing.

The American ticketing industry, which Ticketmaster dominates overwhelmingly, has for years left spectators frustrated with hidden fees, skyrocketing costs, rampant scalpers and limited tickets due to pre-sales.

Swifties flooding ticketing sites linked to Ticketmaster described crashes, breakdowns and other snafus, and many of those who got pre-sale codes were ultimately unable to get tickets.

Cody Rhodes said his cousin received a code to buy seats for Swift’s May show in Philadelphia, but after waiting five hours they were kicked out of the queue.

By the time they crossed the line, there were no more tickets.

“I was on the GROUND,” the 23-year-old told AFP. “It was pretty funny at first, wow haha ​​Taylor is so popular everyone wants to see her! Queen!”

“But with each hour that passed, I realized the gravity of the situation.”

Rhodes said he would try again when the general sale opens on Friday, saying his free budget was $400 per ticket.

“It’s really a lot of money for us, but we’re big fans and we’ve waited so long,” Rhodes said, but added that he was already seeing resale tickets between $2,000 and $9,000 for the kind of seats they were hoping for.

“Ticketmaster is a money-hungry service that cares little or nothing about real fans. I think they will allow price pricing as it allows them to take advantage of situations like this,” he said. he declares.

– ‘Unchecked monopoly’ –

Ticketmaster did not immediately respond to an interview request from AFP, but in a statement Tuesday, the company said waiting fans should “please hold on”, citing “a historically previous” of millions of people.

The company also delayed one of the pre-sales for an entire day.

The havoc prompted comments from a number of lawmakers, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Richard Blumenthal, who called for an investigation into “the state of competition in the ticketing industry”.

In 2010, Ticketmaster and event promotion giant Live Nation merged, in what Congressman David Cicilline on Tuesday called an “unchecked monopoly.”

He and other lawmakers in 2021 called for a Justice Department investigation into “Live Nation’s efforts to raise prices and stifle competition.”

Swift’s fans have a huge online presence and a zeal that positions them well to draw attention to their plight, but Krista Brown – an analyst with the American Economic Liberties Project, who has urged unwinding the merger – has said chaos “is just the latest example.”

“This is not an artist gig or a website crash,” Brown told AFP.

“Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation Entertainment have a monopoly on the industry that allows it to regularly abuse its power, leaving customers, artists and venues at its mercy.”

Live Nation recently reported growing demand after several years of the pent-up pandemic, saying ticket sales are up 37% from 2019.

But as fans complained about skyrocketing costs — Bruce Springsteen posted prices in the thousands of dollars that sparked an outcry earlier this year — Ticketmaster responded to a recent query from Rep. Bill Pascrell by blaming the resale ticketing market and saying that “promoters and artists set the pricing strategy and price range parameters.”

“As the resale ticketing market has grown to an industry of over $10 billion in recent years, artists and crews have lost that revenue to resellers,” Ticketmaster said, saying organizers of events were trying to “recover these lost revenues” via “the market”. -pricing based on price.”

Landry said he was initially willing to pay around $300 to see Swift, but with the fees, the final price landed at $569.

He dipped into his savings to afford a place.

Landry said he felt “relieved” now and that even though the “process was ridiculous,” it was worth seeing Swift’s show in Arlington, Texas: “I literally love it.”

And while Rhodes eagerly waits for the general sale to open, he’s hoping for a “crackdown” on Ticketmaster.

“Using another ticketing service is hardly an option,” he said.