Taylor Swift fans were left furious this week after demand outstripped supply for the superstar’s Era’s Tour pre-sale, ticketed by Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster and promoted by Live Nation rival AEG.
On Tuesday (November 15), Ticketmaster’s site crashed during the ‘Verified Fan’ ticket sale for Swift’s tour, with the debacle leading to calls, including from members of Congress, for Live Nation and Ticketmaster to be broken up.
On Thursday (November 17), U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights wrote a letter addressed to Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino raising concerns about what she says is “the lack of competition in the ticketing industry”.
Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in 2010. The deal was investigated and subsequently approved, by The United States Department of Justice , with a few caveats.
Following the presale and ensuing furor this week, Ticketmaster announced that it was canceling the general sale scheduled for Friday (November 18) citing “extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand”.
Adding fuel to the fire with fans and observers in government was that tickets have reportedly ended up on secondary sites listed for as much as $20,000+.
The ticketing giant published a now-deleted blog post on Thursday (November 17), which you can read in full at the bottom of this story, to explain what had happened during the presale, claiming that “90% fewer tickets are currently posted for resale on secondary markets than a typical onsale”.
Ticketmaster explained that over 3.5 million people had pre-registered for Taylor’s Verified Fan sale, which was, it added, the “largest registration in history”.
It added that 1.5 million fans were then invited to participate in the sale and that the remaining 2 million Verified Fans were put on the waiting list.
In an interview with CNBC this week, Greg Maffei, CEO of Liberty Media, Live Nation’s largest shareholder, said that the presale “exceeded every expectation”.
He added: “We had 14 million people hit the site, including bots, which are not supposed to be there.”
“Though AOC may not like every element of our business, interestingly, AEG, our competitor, who is the promoter for Taylor Swift, chose to use us because, we are, in reality, the largest and most effective ticket seller in the world. Even our competitors want to come on our platform.”
Greg Maffei, Liberty Media
Demand was so high for the tickets that, based on the volume of traffic to Ticketmaster’s site, the company claimed in its blog post that Taylor Swift “would need to perform over 900 stadium shows (almost 20x the number of shows she is doing)”.
That volume works out to Taylor Swift having to perform a stadium show “every single night for the next 2.5 years“, the company noted.
Over 2 million tickets were sold for Taylor Swift’s tour on November 15, “the most tickets ever sold for an artist in a single day” according to Ticketmaster.
Addressing calls from the likes of US politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) for Live Nation and Ticketmaster to be broken up, Maffei added in his interview with CNBC that, “the reality is that this is not actually a Live Nation promoted concert. Taylor Swift is promoted by one of our largest competitors [AEG].
“So though AOC may not like every element of our business, interestingly, AEG, our competitor, who is the promoter for Taylor Swift, chose to use us because, we are, in reality, the largest and most effective ticket seller in the world. Even our competitors want to come on our platform.”
Verified Fan, explains Ticketmaster in a blog post from 2020, “doesn’t guarantee that everyone who is verified will get a ticket, but it does level the playing field so that more tickets go to fans who intend to go to the show—and not to ticket bots”.
In its now-deleted blog post, published this week, Ticketmaster explained: “By requiring registrations, Verified Fan is designed to help manage high-demand shows – identifying real humans and weeding out bots.
“Keeping bots out of queues and avoiding overcrowding helps to make waits shorter and on sales smoother. That’s why Taylor’s touring team AEG and The Messina Touring Group chose to use Verified Fan for her on sales.
Ticketmaster also acknowledged that “while it’s impossible for everyone to get tickets to these shows, we know we can do more to improve the experience and that’s what we’re focused on”.
You can read the full Ticketmaster blog post below:
The Taylor Swift Onsale Explained
Nov 17, 2022
The Eras onsale made one thing clear: Taylor Swift is an unstoppable force and continues to set records. We strive to make ticket buying as easy as possible for fans, but that hasn’t been the case for many people trying to buy tickets for the Eras Tour. We want to share some information to help explain what happened:
We Knew a Record Number of Fans Wanted Taylor Tickets
- By requiring registrations, Verified Fan is designed to help manage high-demand shows – identifying real humans and weeding out bots. Keeping bots out of queues and avoiding overcrowding helps to make waits shorter and on sales smoother. That’s why Taylor’s touring team AEG and The Messina Touring Group chose to use Verified Fan for her on sales.
- Based on fan interest at registration we knew this would be big. Over 3.5 million people pre-registered for Taylor’s Verified Fan, which is the largest registration in history.
- The huge demand for Taylor’s tour informed the artist team’s decision to add additional dates – doubling the tour and number of tickets available so more fans could make it to shows.
- Historically, around 40% of invited fans actually show up and buy tickets, and most purchase an average of 3 tickets. So working with the artist team, around 1.5 million people were invited to participate in the on sale for all 52 show dates, including the 47 sold by Ticketmaster.
- The remaining 2 million Verified Fans were put on the waiting list.
The Demand for Taylor Broke Records — And Parts of Our Website
- Historically, working with Verified Fan invite codes has worked as we’ve been able to manage the volume coming into the site to shop for tickets. However, this time the staggering number of bot attacks as well as fans who didn’t have invite codes drove unprecedented traffic on our site, resulting in 3.5 billion total system requests – 4x our previous peak.
- Never before has a Verified Fan on sale sparked so much attention – or uninvited volume. This disrupted the predictability and reliability that is the hallmark of our Verified Fan platform.
- It usually takes us about an hour to sell through a stadium show, but we slowed down some sales and pushed back others to stabilize the systems. The trade off was longer wait times in queue for some fans.
- Overall, we estimate about 15% of interactions across the site experienced issues, and that’s 15% too many, including passcode validation errors that caused fans to lose tickets they had carted.
Despite the Disruptions, Swifties Powered Through and Helped Taylor Set a New Record
- Over 2 million tickets were sold for Taylor’s shows on Nov. 15 — the most tickets ever sold for an artist in a single day.
- Every ticket was sold to a buyer with a Verified Fan code. Nobody (not even a bot) could join a queue without being Verified. The 2 million tickets we sold only went to Verified Fans.
- 90% fewer tickets are currently posted for resale on secondary markets than a typical onsale, which is exactly why the artist team wanted to use Verified Fan to sell their tickets. Ticketmaster is not currently reselling any Taylor tickets.
- Beyond Taylor’s onsale, we also sold another 1 million tickets for other events across our site on Tuesday.
The biggest venues and artists turn to us because we have the leading ticketing technology in the world — that doesn’t mean it’s perfect, and clearly for Taylor’s onsale it wasn’t. But we’re always working to improve the ticket buying experience. Especially for high-demand onsales, which continue to test new limits.
Even when a high-demand onsale goes flawlessly from a tech perspective, many fans are left empty handed. For example: Based on the volume of traffic to our site, Taylor would need to perform over 900 stadium shows (almost 20x the number of shows she is doing)…that’s a stadium show every single night for the next 2.5 years.
While it’s impossible for everyone to get tickets to these shows, we know we can do more to improve the experience and that’s what we’re focused on.
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