Swifties express concerns about Ticketmaster following disastrous presale


Ananya Kulkarni

Millions of Swifties logged onto Ticketmaster Nov. 15 in the hopes of obtaining tickets to Taylor Swift’s upcoming “The Eras Tour” during its presale. The unprecedented demand resulted in both website crashes and droves of disappointed fans.

Laura Emde, news staff

Millions of Taylor Swift fans, or Swifties, “vowed not to cry anymore if [they] survived the Great War” as they logged onto Ticketmaster Nov. 15 in the hopes of getting tickets to Swift’s upcoming tour, “The Eras Tour,” during its presale.

Although a few lucky Swifties were able to come out victorious, the vast majority were met with hours-long queues and messages of “Sorry! Another fan beat you to these tickets.”

“I was literally in line in a paused queue for two and a half hours,” said Laura Pomilia, a third-year political science and international affairs combined major who was able to get tickets to the June 2 show in Chicago. “Once the queue unpaused, I still had to wait another two hours. That was insane.”

Much of the blame for the presale’s failings has fallen on Ticketmaster, a prominent ticket sales and distribution company, who has been called out for failing to prepare for what the company called an “unprecedented demand” for tickets. Ticketmaster released an official statement Nov. 18 stating it processed 3.5 billion system requests, which was four times higher than its previous peak.

However, some Swifties claim that Ticketmaster should’ve seen the record-breaking demand coming, considering “The Eras Tour” will be Swift’s first tour in five years, following her 2018 “Reputation Stadium Tour” and her ill-fated 2020 “Lover Fest Tour,” which was canceled due to COVID-19.

“I don’t think they realized how much her fan base has grown since her Reputation shows,” said Cynthia Chen, a first-year economics and business administration combined major. “It’s insane now, and everybody’s going to be trying to get tickets, and I don’t think they were fully prepared for that.”

One of the places where Swift’s increasing popularity becomes evident is her Spotify streaming numbers. Her 2019 album “Lover” received 54.1 million streams in its first 24 hours on Spotify. “Midnights,” which was released Oct. 21, received 185 million streams in its first 24 hours on the platform.

In order to ensure that tickets ended up in the hands of actual Swifties rather than money-hungry resellers who use bots to buy a lot of tickets in a short amount of time, Ticketmaster ran a Verified Fan presale. Approximately 3.5 million people registered for the presale and around 1.5 million people were granted presale codes, according to Ticketmaster’s statement.

In a standard presale, the event organizer will set aside a specific amount of tickets to be sold during the presale, along with set prices and sale dates. On average, as much as 50% of all tickets for a show can be made available during a presale, according to David Herlihy, a music professor at Northeastern.

“[Venues] all have up to half the seats in carve-outs, business carve-outs and the best seats sort of set aside for corporate partners, ” Herlihy said. “Taylor was really trying to counter the entire thing and make it work for her as she wanted to have more control over that.”

Swifties criticized the fact that although 1.5 million people had presale codes, 14 million people entered the queues for  the 52 shows on “The Eras Tour,” according to a CNBC interview with Greg Maffei, a chairman for Live Nation, Ticketmaster’s parent company. Many of the additional 12.5 million people were bots who “were not supposed to be there,” he said.

Some Swifties argue that in order to prevent millions of extra people from entering the already-busy queues, Ticketmaster should have required users to enter their presale codes before they could join the queue. Swifties such as Brandi Chenard, the secretary of Suffolk University’s Taylor Swift Society, said putting in the code at the start could’ve prevented Ticketmaster’s glitches and crashes during the presale.

“That would’ve helped a lot, because Ticketmaster knew ahead of time very well that this was going to be the biggest demand they’d seen ever, and they just let anyone join the queue,” Chenard said. “Stopping that before would definitely help the website from crashing and would help things run a lot more smoothly.”

In a heavily controversial move, Ticketmaster announced that the general sale for “The Eras Tour” originally scheduled for Nov. 18 would be canceled, citing “insufficient remaining ticket inventory.” The Twitter announcement received immense backlash from Swifties expressing their anger and disappointment.

The outrage over Ticketmaster’s handling of the presale became so severe that Swift herself released a statement on her Instagram story, stating that she cares deeply for her fans and was upset that many had such a difficult time dealing with the presale, as well as implying that Ticketmaster knew of the high demand for tickets ahead of time.

Following “The Eras Tour” presale, the Department of Justice is investigating Ticketmaster for alleged violations of antitrust laws, which promote competition and prevent unjust monopolies. Some people, such as Herlihy, do not hold out hope that change will arise from this investigation.

“Antitrust is very, very difficult to implement and to change,” he said. “The standards that are involved are intensely specific and you’ll have incredible attorneys on both sides, making these things take a really long time.”

Swifties who struggled during the presale had some ideas about what Ticketmaster could have done to make the experience run more smoothly. Katie Billman, a third-year communication studies major, suggested that a Verified Fan system more similar to that of the “Reputation Stadium Tour,” where fans could post about and follow Swift on social media, refer friends and watch exclusive Swift content and music videos, would help ensure only true Swifties got tickets.

“If you bought this many songs or you’ve bought merch or you’ve done certain things to be part of her fandom, she would give those people priority,” Billman said. “It shows that those people are dedicated fans and deserve to get tickets earlier than other people.”

Despite empathetic sentiments from Swift, apologies from Ticketmaster and government involvement, Swifties still remain frustrated and disappointed with Ticketmaster, claiming that the company should’ve been better prepared to sell tickets — the main purpose of the business — even with the unprecedented demand.

“Ticketmaster’s whole job is to sell tickets,” Pomilia said. “They couldn’t even do that.”