Finding a reliable ticket vendor for concerts and events is hard enough already, and Ticketmaster isn’t making it any easier. When Taylor Swift announced her first tour in five years in November of last year fans were eager to get their hands on tickets, for very obvious reasons.
On Nov. 15 tickets went on presale, where fans were met with errors, charges for tickets they hadn’t bought, kicked off the site, and the whole site failing to support the traffic they were dealing with. After the mess that was the first presale, Ticketmaster announced that they are canceling the general sale, meaning fans who were not able to get tickets during the error-filled presale, wouldn’t have another opportunity. Ticketmaster explained the reason was bots buying tickets, and the high number of people on the site, though some would think Ticketmaster would expect that and be able to handle it. Swift herself was disappointed with the company too, saying, “we asked them, multiple times if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could.”
The whole situation was extremely disappointing to everyone involved, Ticketmaster’s apology and explanation did nothing to soothe the anger fans felt. Fans decided to take legal action, suing the large company for “intentional deception,” and “allowing scalpers on to the site” so that fans would have to pay outrageous prices for tickets.
Though it’s unfair to Swift’s fans, they are not the only group to be affected by Ticketmasters’ lack of efficiency and extremely overpriced tickets. In 1994 Pearl Jam testified to congress, describing the company as “abusing its marketplace dominance” after forcing the band out of venues and raising the ticket prices. As well as Bruce Springsteen tickets reaching up to $4000, and Bad Bunny fans not being let into the venue after showing their tickets that were bought on Ticketmaster. Tickets were reported as duplicates, fake, or canceled altogether.
It’s genuinely disheartening to see artists’ tickets go from affordable to untouchable in the blink of an eye. You can especially see this pattern in more underground musicians. Last April I saw rapper Lucki in concert. He’s not super popular but he’s definitely been gaining more attention. The tickets I got were $25 at The Paper Tiger for the floor, $30 at the checkout. This time around his tour tickets are $195 at The Aztec Theatre for the floor. There’s no way to explain this in a reasonable or logical way, it’s just disappointing.
As history repeats itself it’s obvious that this isn’t the first time Ticketmaster has messed up, but hopefully the last. Thanks to the determination of Swift’s fans, Congress held a hearing over Ticketmaster’s most recent mishap on Jan 24. Senator Amy Klobuchar commented about the hearing in a press release, “At next week’s hearing, we will examine how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industries harms customers and artists alike. Without competition to incentivize better services and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences.”
Nearly two weeks later, we’re unsure as to what will come out of the hearing, but hopefully change is near. In the meantime, a way to avoid Ticketmaster is to buy from the venue’s box office. Almost every venue will have an internal box office open every day, even if it looks closed, there will be a sales window open during business hours.