Senate Panel to Hold Hearing on Taylor Swift Ticket Fiasco
WASHINGTON — When you’re Taylor Swift, things get noticed — even in the halls of Congress.
Just days after the reigning pop superstar scored six wins at the 2022 American Music Awards, the Senate subcommittee that handles antitrust and consumer rights matters said it plans to hold a hearing to investigate Ticketmaster’s handling of the singer’s tour ticket sales last week.
Last month, Swift, who hasn’t toured since before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, announced the dates of a massive tour set to begin next August. Since that announcement, the tour has been expanded to 52 dates, with multi-show performances in several U.S. cities.
The so-called Eras tour was widely anticipated to be a hot ticket, but when pre-sales were held last Tuesday, the demand far outstripped Ticketmaster’s ability to handle it.
Though some 2.4 million fans were able to snag tickets, more than 2 million others met with endless delays and error messages and, since they’d gone through an early verification process, were placed on a waiting list.
On Thursday, Ticketmaster canceled a sale of tickets to the general public scheduled for the next day.
The ticket seller blamed the fiasco on bots and historically unprecedented demand, citing “extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand” as its reason for calling off Friday’s sale.
In a statement posted Friday on her Instagram Stories account, Swift said, “It goes without saying that I’m extremely protective of my fans.
“We’ve been doing this for decades together and over the years, I’ve brought so many elements of my career in house. I’ve done this SPECIFICALLY to improve the quality of my fans’ experience by doing it myself with my team who care as much about my fans as I do,” she wrote.
“It’s really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties, and excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse.”
Now, Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, want answers.
They’ve announced the Senate Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights is going to look into what happened, with the actual hearing date and witnesses to be announced at a later date.
“Last week, the competition problem in ticketing markets was made painfully obvious when Ticketmaster’s website failed hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to purchase concert tickets.” Klobuchar said in a written statement.
“The high fees, site disruptions and cancellations that customers experienced shows how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company does not face any pressure to continually innovate and improve.
“That’s why we will hold a hearing on how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry harms customers and artists alike. When there is no competition to incentivize better services and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences,” she said.
“American consumers deserve the benefit of competition in every market, from grocery chains to concert venues,” Lee said.
“I look forward to exercising our subcommittee’s oversight authority to ensure that anticompetitive mergers and exclusionary conduct are not crippling an entertainment industry already struggling to recover from pandemic lockdowns,” he added.
In a statement issued by Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation last week, the ticket seller said, “The Eras … sale 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.
“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,” Ticketmaster said. “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.
“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 the queue for some fans.
“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,” the company concluded.