Ticketmaster has cancelled Friday’s public ticket sale for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour, just days after millions of the pop-star’s fans swarmed the ticket-selling site in search of pre-sale seats, causing periodic outages and lengthy wait times.
Earlier Thursday, Ticketmaster attempted to break down what caused the chaotic disruptions when pre-sale tickets for Swift’s The Eras tour became available Tuesday, breaking records — and parts of the site itself.
“Due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand, tomorrow’s public on-sale for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour has been cancelled,” the ticket-selling site tweeted.
Due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand, tomorrow’s public on-sale for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour has been cancelled.
It is the latest chapter in the drama over Ticketmaster’s sales and pricing practices that have angered music fans and riled critics — including one U.S. Senator — who cite high prices, concerns about the amount of power the platform has and the lack of competition in the ticketing industry.
“The Eras on sale made one thing clear: Taylor Swift is an unstoppable force and continues to set records,” Ticketmaster wrote in an explainer posted on its website, noting that many fans were unable to get tickets.
Largest ‘Verified Fan’ registration ever
During the pre-sale, the platform required fans to pre-register for its Verified Fan system, which it says is designed to help manage high-demand shows, sift out bots and limit overcrowding to keep wait times shorter.
According to the site, more than 3.5 million fans pre-registered for the program, becoming the largest registration the platform has ever seen.
Ticketmaster says two million verified fans were put on a waiting list and 1.5 million were given the chance to enter the queue when the sale began.
But the company said a “staggering number of bot attacks” and fans without Verified Fan invite codes caused “unprecedented traffic” and saw fans waiting in online queues for up to eight hours.
Ticketmaster says more than two million tickets were sold to fans on Nov. 15, the most tickets ever sold for an artist in a single day.
Fans angry over pre-sale problems, ‘dynamic pricing’
This isn’t the first time Ticketmaster has angered Swifties. Back in 2018, the price of tickets for her shows reached as high as $1,500 US, and many fans complained they weren’t even allowed into the program that would have let them buy more modestly priced pre-sale tickets.
Swift’s fans aren’t the only ones upset with the ticketing company.
In July, people trying to buy tickets to see Bruce Springsteen waited hours in online queues and said they were concerned about Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing system, which alters the price of tickets based on demand.
With all of the more modestly priced face-value tickets long gone, the cost of tickets to see The Boss soared as high as $5,000 US.
This summer, Drake’s OVO fest at Toronto’s Molson Amphitheatre sold out almost instantaneously. Shortly after that, seats on the lawn, the furthest away from the outdoor venue’s Budweiser Stage, were listed at $900.
U.S. Senator speaks out
Among fans who spoke out about the platform’s flaws was Democratic U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, who wrote a letter to Live Nation Entertainment Inc, voicing “serious concern about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its harmful impact on consumers.”
“Ticketmaster’s power in the primary ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically push companies to innovate and improve their services,” said Klobuchar, who is chair of a Senate subcommittee on antitrust issues.
“That can result in the types of dramatic service failures we saw this week, where consumers are the ones that pay the price.”
In her letter, Klobuchar asked Live Nation Chief Executive Michael Rapino to answer a handful of questions, including how much the company had spent to upgrade technology to handle demand surges, and what percentage of high-profile tour tickets were reserved for presales.
Ticketmaster did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Klobuchar’s letter.
Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in a 2010 deal approved by the U.S. Justice Department. The government can challenge a completed merger but rarely does so. In her letter, Klobuchar said she had been skeptical of the deal at the time.
Ticketmaster has also come under fire from artists themselves.
In the mid-1990s, the band Pearl Jam said the company broke antitrust laws, used its monopoly to charge exorbitant fees and later pushed event organizers into refusing artists access to other venues.
The group decided to tour without using Ticketmaster, but found the process too unwieldy and returned to the service after 14 months.