There’s been some serious bad blood coming from the Taylor Swift ticket debacle.
The “Anti-Hero” singer broke all kinds of records with the release of her latest album, Midnights. So you can imagine the ticket sales are for her eras tour, her first since 2018, would be great. We just didn’t predict that things would go so wrong during the presale when an unprecedented number of fans with presale codes flooded the site on Tuesday and bought the tickets. As a result, the public ticket sale, which was scheduled for Friday, has been canceled by Ticketmaster, who is handling the sale, citing “insufficient ticket stock remaining”.
So what happened? The pop superstar teamed up with Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program, allowing her superfans — aka the Swifties — to pre-register earlier this month to receive a special code that enabled early ticket sales on Nov. 15 — three days before they go on sale to the general public. The verification process also aims to identify real people versus bots to avoid bulk purchases and resale.
However, there was a breakdown – or, for the most seasoned – a catastrophe. Fans logged in on Tuesday and received error messages or were stuck in queue for two hours. Other fans who intended to get tickets were sent to a waiting list. West Coast ticket sales were also delayed by three hours to ease traffic to the site. Angry fans took screenshots of the glitches and posted them to social media as they slammed Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster was trending, even featuring US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The ticket company, owned by Live Nation, posted that one “historically unprecedented demand” with millions showing up to buy tickets. The company later posted a whole explanation unpacking what went wrong. It was known that sales would become a major problem after 3.5 million people pre-registered, the largest verified fan registration in history. That led to Swift’s tour team, led by AEG and The Messina Touring Group, adding more shows, doubling dates and tickets. About 1.5 million people were invited to participate in the presale, the remaining 2 million were on a waiting list. Those numbers were determined because Ticketmaster historically sees 40% of the invited fans, with the special codes, actually show up and buy tickets, and most buy an average of 3 tickets.
When the pre-sale tickets became available on Tuesday, those with the codes went to the site, as did the fans who didn’t have a code. Additionally, according to Ticketmaster, there was a “staggering number of bot attacks,” with these factors resulting in unprecedented traffic to the site. There were 3.5 billion – yes, billion! — system requests, which was four times more than the company has ever experienced. A total of 2 million tickets were sold that day – the most tickets ever sold for an artist in one day. The company claims that every ticket with the special code has been sold to a buyer.
Ticketmaster added: “Even when a high demand sale goes off without a hitch from a technical perspective, many fans are left empty-handed. For example, based on the volume of traffic to our site, Taylor would have to perform more than 900 stadium shows (nearly 20x the number of shows she does) … that’s a stadium show every night for the next 2.5 years.
Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino addressed the mayhem on Thursday. “We invited one and a half million [people] on that day to come and buy those tickets, but it’s like throwing a party. Everybody crashed that door at the same time with 3.5 billion requests,” he said, according to the Hollywood reporter. “We sold 2 million tickets, the most we’ve ever sold in one day in history, and another million tickets from other artists in the same day. So while we’re sorry it was a delay in some queues and some error codes for a short period of time for some fans, we managed to recover.” Rapino added, “There’s no nice way to tell 10 million Swifties : ‘There are no tickets.’ So they do what they do and they go to social media and we deal with that every day.”
Soon after, Ticketmaster announced that general ticket sales – scheduled for Friday – have been canceled due to “insufficient remaining ticket stock” to meet demand.
Also on Thursday, Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti announced an investigation into Ticketmaster and Live Nation over the disastrous presale event. Skrmetti said his office saw a “number of complaints,” prompting an investigation into the situation, including possible antitrust violations. AOC’s tweet claimed that the real problem with the failed sale was Ticketmaster’s monopolization of the live music industry.
Tickets, which cost fans between $49 and $449 during presale for standard and $199 to $899 for VIP, are now being resold on sites like StubHub for as much as $28,000. And it left a bad taste for Swift fans. Since all this has played out, some have expressed disappointment with Swift about the process and prices, leading to power struggles with fans who are defend her.
So what has Swift said about this? Nothing for days and her publicist has not responded to multiple requests for comment. Finally on Friday morning, Swift chimed in via her Instagram Stories, saying in part, “It’s really hard for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and allegiances, and unbearable for me to see mistakes happen with no redress. … It is really amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get their hands on them.
“And to those who didn’t get tickets, all I can say is my hope is to give us more opportunities to all get together and sing these songs. Thank you for being there. You have no idea how much that resources.”
Here’s the full statement:
The eras tour kicks off March 17 in Glendale, Ariz., as of now, and runs through early August, when there’s a block of shows in LA. Some of the supporting acts are Haim, Paramore and Phoebe Bridgers. International dates are pending.
Swift said the shows will be “a journey through the musical eras of my career (past and present!)”.
This week, after cleaning up the MTV Europe Music Awards and hitting the red carpet, Swift earned four new Grammy nominations, bringing her total to 46. her to get even more next year. The 2023 Grammys will air on February 5.
This story was originally published on November 17, 2022 at 3:47 PM PT and has been updated with Swift’s statement.