Showbiz

The Taylor Swift Ticketmaster fiasco explained

'All too well': Senators quote Taylor Swift during Ticketmaster hearing

Ticketmaster has apologised to Taylor Swift and her fans after its website crashed when tickets were on sale, leaving thousands of Swifties disappointed.

“We apologise to the fans. We apologise to Ms Swift. We need to do better, and we will do better, Live Nation president Joe Berchtold told a Senate judiciary committee.

Of course, senators proved they were Swifties by slotting in their lyrical knowledge into the discussions.

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Senator Democratic Richard Blumenthal referenced Swift’s latest hit “Anti-Hero": “Ticketmaster should look in the mirror and say ‘I’m the problem, it’s me."

While Democratic US senator Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate antitrust committee referenced the song All Too Well,and Republican Senator Mike Lee took a line from Swift's hit Blank Space to share his thoughts on limiting ticket reselling:

"A lot of people seem to think that’s somehow a solution, I think it’s a 'nightmare dressed like a daydream,'" he said, and in his closing statement used a lyric from Karma: "Karma's a relaxing thought, aren't you envious that for you it's not?

Here is a breakdown of what has happened in the Taylor Swift Ticketmaster fiasco:

Why were Swifties left disappointed?

The Anti-Hero singer announced her "The Eras Tour," in November last year, with 52 tour dates across the US and there was anticipation for when the pre-sale was released later in the month since it is Swift's first live tour in five years.

This "unprecedented demand for Swift tickets," was clear when the pre-sale happened as heartbroken fans reported via social media long queue times and technical difficulties, with many ultimately missing out on tickets.

Amy Edwards demonstrates against the live entertainment ticket industry outside the U.S. Capitol January 24, 2023 in Washington, DCPhoto by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Overall, 14 million users (including bots) searched for tickets, on a presale for 1.5 million “verified"Taylor Swift fans to access and in the end 2.2 million tickets were sold.

As a result of the chaos, Ticketmaster later cancelled the public ticket sale that was planned for November 18.

"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.

What has Taylor Swift said on the matter?

Swift herself later broke her silence on the situation, where she said it was "excruciating" for her to "watch mistakes happen with no recourse."

"It goes without saying that I'm extremely protective of my fans," Swift began her statement. "It's really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties."

The singer also detailed that "[my team and I] asked [Ticketmaster] multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could."

"It's truly 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 them."

Why has Ticketmaster faced criticism?

Since Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation in 2010, there have been criticisms over the company's dominance in recent years.

Democratic US senator Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate antitrust committee responded with a letter to Live Nation Entertainment Inc where she expressed "serious concern about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its harmful impact on consumers."

The Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into Live Nation but this predates the Swift ticket chaos, CNBC reported.

The US Senate Judiciary Committee held an antitrust hearing Tuesday, January 25 to look at Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation to examine whether it holds a monopoly in the industry - which is where Berchtold recently apologised to Swift and her fans.

Senator Klobuchar highlighted at the committee hearing how Ticketmaster are responsible for 70 per cent of ticket sales in the US, without competition and believes that the company "does not face any pressure to continually innovate and improve."

Though Live Nation disputes this, as it believes it has experienced a market share reduction since the merger 13 years ago.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Attorney General's office is also investigating Ticketmaster after the Swift ticket sale disaster.

What caused the ticket fiasco?

According to Berchtold, a bot attack was to blame for the problems fans faced when attempting to get tickets.

"We knew bots would attack the on-sale, and planned accordingly. We were then hit with three times the amount of bot traffic than we had ever experienced, and for the first time in 400 Verified Fan on-sales, they came after our Verified Fan access code servers," Berchtold explained to senators.

Joe Berchtold, president and CFO of Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., appears at a hearing held by Senate Judiciary Committee January 24, 2023 in Washington, DCPhoto by Win McNamee/Getty Images

“While the bots failed to penetrate our system or acquire any tickets, the attack required us to slow down and even pause our sales.”

“This is what led to a terrible consumer experience, which we deeply regret," he added.

Though the Live Nation president did concede that there were "several things we could have done better, including staggering sales over a longer period of time and doing a better job setting fan expectations for getting tickets."

He also urged lawmakers to pay attention to "industrial scalpers breaking the law, using bots and cyber-attacks to try to unfairly gain tickets."

Who sets ticket prices?

Berchtold made a point of saying that Ticketmaster does not set ticket prices, nor the quantity that are on sale but instead it is actually "venues set service and ticketing fees," in most cases.

"Primary ticketing companies, including Ticketmaster, do not set ticket prices, do not decide how many tickets go on sale and when they go on sale, do not set service fees," he said.

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