Ticketmaster illustration

Taylor Swift announced The Eras Tour on Nov. 1, 2022, through an appearance on Good Morning America and posts on her social media accounts.

The sale went through Ticketmaster, a once-trustworthy ticket-buying site. Recently, Ticketmaster has shown that as a company, it has too much power, takes advantage of fans and needs to be more reliable.

The Eras Tour fiasco further proved these ideas and led to questions about whether the company was becoming a monopoly.

Swift has not been able to tour since 2018, as Lover Fest, a planned worldwide tour for her seventh studio album "Lover," was canceled due to COVID-19. The announcement of The Eras Tour sent fans into a frenzy of excitement, hoping they would finally be able to see Swift in person.

Emily Kent, a finance senior, had never been able to attend one of Swift's concerts and was ecstatic when she announced her upcoming tour.

"I really wish she had been able to tour but due to [COVID-19], there were so many limitations," Kent said.

Millions of fans signed up for Ticketmaster's Verified Fan presale. Ashlin Brown, a communication design freshman, was among those who signed up.

"I really, really wanted tickets," Brown said. "I've been going to her tours since I was a kid. That's something my parents always did for me and I was like 'I need to do this one for myself.'"

Verified Fan is a service intended to ensure that tickets go to fans who will attend the event and not resellers. For The Eras Tour, fans signed up through a customized registration page for specific shows. Then, a few days later, Ticketmaster informed them via email if they were selected for the presale.

Presale took place on Nov. 15, and problems immediately began to arise. According to the chairman of Live Nation, only 1.5 million presale codes were sent out, but somehow, 14 million people were able to access the site.

Fans put their complete trust in Ticketmaster, believing the company would do whatever it could in order to ensure real fans got tickets. Instead, the company took advantage of this trust, blindsiding Swifties and allowing bots to access the site.

Ticketmaster was aware of the bot attacks on the website during the sale. The company was also aware that a record number of fans wanted tickets but did nothing to prepare because "never before has a Verified Fan onsale sparked so much attention."

No matter how many sales the company conducts, every precaution and test possible should be run beforehand to ensure that nothing goes wrong. This is especially true for any artist as big as Swift.

Because of the demand, the Ticketmaster website crashed multiple times. The queue paused and due to the fear of losing their spots in line, some fans stayed on the site for over six hours.

"I think I was waiting for six or seven hours. I did miss my classes that day, but anything for tickets," Kent said.

The trouble with the Verified Fan presale caused the Capital One presale to be rescheduled and the general sale was canceled entirely "due to extraordinarily high demands... and insufficient remaining ticket inventory."

Thousands of loyal fans had no tickets, and scalpers had already begun to list tickets for prices as high as $17,000.

"I feel like that was something that could have been easily avoided, especially with the Verified Fan codes," Brown said.

Swift posted a statement expressing her sympathy for fans, saying, "it's excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse."

"I feel like it showed her true character," Brown said. "She validated a lot of people's feelings and I think that was really important."

Fans were frustrated after the situation and wanted to take action against Ticketmaster. According to an article from NPR, over 24 plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the company with accusations of "fraudulent practices."

The fiasco only placed Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation, back under scrutiny. The companies merged in 2010 and, according to CNBC, now control 70% of the live event market.

"After screwing over so many people, I don't see how they can have the same number [of fans] come back," Kent said.

Ticketmaster has entirely too much power. No single company should ever be allowed to control 70% of an industry. Fans and artists alike are stuck with one option and it's a company that doesn't care about the repercussions of its actions.

If Taylor and her fans hadn't spoken out, it's obvious that Ticketmaster representatives would go on believing they did nothing wrong.

A senate committee held a hearing on Jan. 24 on the lack of competition in the industry. Some senators suggested undoing the merger between the two companies, and others asked for more transparency.

Because of this hearing, we hope to see a change in the industry. Ticketmaster makes it almost impossible for stadium-level artists to tour without using their services, and it has become clear that it is not fair to anyone involved.

As a way to compensate for its actions, Ticketmaster recently sent emails to fans who received presale codes but did not get tickets, allowing them a chance to purchase two tickets. These tickets are not guaranteed but it is nice to see the company trying to get as many fans as possible into the stadiums.

Despite the controversy, Ticketmaster is still one of the only secure ticket-buying websites, and it's no secret that people will still use the site in the future.

Fans deserve to know what they involve themselves in when making a purchase as significant as concert tickets, and artists deserve to know that their supporters are receiving fair treatment. Changes are needed, and soon.

- Rhian Davis is a journalism freshman

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