Taylor Swift kicked off her Eras Tour Friday, March 17, at the State Farm Arena in Glendale, Arizona, where local Mayor Jerry Weiers had actually ceremoniously renamed the area “Swift City” in honor of the music superstar. However, while “Swifties” rejoiced over the start of this much-anticipated tour, just a few months ago that excitement was marred by Ticketmaster crashing during a pre-sale of the event.
Officials at the state and federal level soon followed with investigations into the ticket provider after this incident, which brought on widespread website outages and long waiting queues to buy tickets. Reportedly, more than 2 million people attempted to access the Ticketmaster website to purchase tickets on the day of the pre-sale period, leading to these issues. The Department of Justice soon launched its own probe into the situation, as lawmakers voiced antitrust concerns over the company’s actions. Ticketmaster along with Live Nation, which it merged with in 2010, control roughly 70% of the live music and ticketing markets.
“I write to express serious concerns about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its harmful impact on consumers. Reports about system failures, increasing fees, and complaints of conduct that violate the consent decree Ticketmaster is under suggest that Ticketmaster continues to abuse its market positions,” wrote Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., in a letter about the Taylor Swift ticket situation. “Ticketmaster’s power in the primary ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically push companies to innovate and improve their services.”
Meanwhile, Swift herself called the whole ordeal quote “excruciating,” adding that her team had “asked [Ticketmaster], multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could.” Now, another musical artist has joined in her disappointment with the ticket sales company. After the British rock group The Cure announced plans to keep ticket prices for its North American tour affordable, with some as low as $20, Ticketmaster threw a wrench into the idea.
Fans hoping to catch a show from the cheap seats were hit with numerous fees by Ticketmaster that in some cases amounted to more than the price of the ticket itself. In order to keep costs down, The Cure had opted out of dynamic pricing, where the price of a ticket fluctuates based on the given market demand at any moment, but Ticketmaster’s added fees drove prices back up. The band’s frontman Robert Smith eventually stepped in, telling fans on Twitter that he was quote “sickened” by what he called the “Ticketmaster fees debacle.”
“I am as sickened as you all are by today’s Ticketmaster ‘fees’ debacle,” tweeted Smith. “To be very clear: the artist has no way to limit them. I have been asking how they are justified. If I get anything coherent by way of an answer I will let you all know.”
Ticketmaster ultimately agreed to issue partial refunds, giving customers back some of their money in amounts of between $5 and $10. Though the Future of Music Coalition has dubbed this latest development as quote “encouraging,” the organization has still maintained its calls for regulation of the industry.
“The solution has to include both structural intervention—addressing the problem of consolidated power by the biggest companies— and clear rules of the road that apply to all companies and forbid the worst practices,” tweeted the Future of Music Coalition. “And to be 100% clear, we’re talking about taking on predatory resellers as well as Ticketmaster. We don’t have to let anyone off the hook.”
Yet, despite all this ticket turmoil, with the Eras Tour now underway, the mayor of Swift City is encouraging fans to “Shake It Off” and go live their “Wildest Dreams” at the show.
“It’s an experience that everyone should have the opportunity to have,” Mayor Weiers told Straight Arrow News about his time at the show. “And she’s incredible.”