Buying tickets this week for the hotly anticipated Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour was a bloodsport. There were hours upon hours of waiting. Coordinating exams with professors. Stopping a photoshoot midway through because the queue finally moved. But social media quickly flooded with hundreds of thousands of Swifties who said they couldn’t get tickets. Stubhub is littered with nosebleed seats selling for over well over $1,000. Ticketmaster itself confirmed on Thursday that Tuesday’s Verified Fan presale was meant for 1.5 million fans, but 14 million people tried to get tickets. And importantly: Politicians are finally taking Swifties’ ire seriously.
On Wednesday, Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said his office has received numerous complaints from fans attempting to use Ticketmaster’s confusing Verified Fan method. “We are concerned about this very dominant market player, and we want to make sure that they’re treating consumers right and that people are receiving a fair opportunity to purchase the tickets that clearly matter a great deal to them,” Skrmetti said at a news conference. (State attorneys general have massive power to help consumers. And Swift still calls Tennessee home—she votes there!)
Pennsylvania Attorney General and Governor-elect Josh Shapiro is urging Swifties to file consumer complaints. (Notably, Swift grew up in Pennsylvania.) Also on Wednesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called the company “a near monopoly” that “harms” fans. “I’ve long urged DOJ to investigate the state of competition in the ticketing industry,” Blumenthal, who has no obvious connection to Taylor, tweeted. “Consumers deserve better than this anti-hero behavior.” And in the throes of Tuesday’s chaotic Verified Fan pre-sale, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)—who is coincidentally exactly two months older than Ms. Swift—called Ticketmaster, which merged with Live Nation in 2009, a “monopoly.”
So, is it possible that Swift, who in the last few years has finally opened up about her politics (liberal, hated Donald Trump), beliefs (pro-LGBTQ+, pro-abortion rights, anti-gun), and disdain for powerful industry figures who’ve screwed over artists (side-eyeing Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta), potentially pulled off a save scheme to reveal how shitty Live Nation/Ticketmaster is and breakup their monopoly? Is she the antitrust foot soldier Elizabeth Warren has been searching for the entire time?? Well...probably not. But if you didn’t get tickets this week, it’s kind of a fun way to look at it.
Because Blondie’s love of capitalism is clear, as her fans have begun to more openly point out. What was the point of selling four different versions of the same album? Do we, her fans, need 24 remixes of “Anti-Hero” at $1.29 a pop? Were the endless merch cycles worth it? The tickets fans couldn’t even actually buy tickets were priced at $49 to $450, with VIP offers starting at $199.
Liberty Media CEO and Live Nation chairman Greg Maffei apologized on Wednesday, which I’m sure was well received by the medium-sized country’s worth of people who weren’t able to buy reasonably priced tickets (or even any tickets at all!) “I apologize to all our fans. We are working hard on this,” Maffei said with a straight face. Wow, thanks! Guess I’m over it now!
If Ticketmaster had thus been avoiding congressional inquiry, I’m willing to bet a ticket’s worth that it failed, after an announcement on Thursday afternoon. “Due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand, tomorrow’s public on-sale for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour has been cancelled,” the company tweeted. Woof.
But surely Maffei’s apology will smooth over canceling the general public ticket sale! After all, Swifties are known to be totally understanding and fully accepting when anything or anyone gets in the way of them and their queen.
As for me, after days of hearing about these ticket woes, I now believe, that despite being a fan who wanted to go to one (1) show, it was a blessing to not not successfully be deemed a Verified Fan.