Taylor Swift slams Ticketmaster over 'excruciating' ticket debacle – The Guardian
Singer addresses outrage over delays, sky-high prices and glitches as the US justice department investigates the live music company
Taylor Swift has addressed widespread criticism over Ticketmaster’s handling of sales to her upcoming Eras tour, writing that it has been “excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse”.
Swift’s first public comments about the chaotic ticket sales landed the same day as the New York Times reported an antitrust investigation by the US justice department into Ticketmaster’s parent company. The investigation, which predates the Swift controversy, is looking into whether Live Nation Entertainment has abused its power in the multibillion-dollar live entertainment industry.
That power was in the spotlight this week as record demand for Swift’s 2023 tour, her first in five years, crashed the company’s website, stranded customers in line for “presale” tickets for hours and led to the cancellation of its public sale scheduled for Friday.
In a statement posted to her Instagram Stories, the 32-year-old singer said she asked Ticketmaster “multiple times if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could”.
Her full statement began: “Well. 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.
“There are a multitude of reasons why people had such a hard time trying to get tickets and I’m trying to figure out how this situation can be improved moving forward.
“I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could. It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.
“And to those who didn’t get tickets, all I can say is that my hope is to provide more opportunities for us to all get together and sing these songs. Thank you for wanting to be there. You have no idea how much that means.”
Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation, blamed “historically unprecedented demand” for Swift’s 52-date US tour for the sale’s descent into chaos this week. Fans looking for tickets had about two weeks to register for Ticketmaster’s “verified fan” program, which was supposed to weed out bots and scalpers and get tickets in the hands of actual concertgoers.
On Tuesday, many with presale codes were left empty-handed when the site crashed or stranded them in line for hours; reports emerged of people rearranging their schedules for presales only to be locked out until a planned public sale scheduled for 18 November, which was then canceled the day before due to “insufficient remaining ticket inventory”. Tickets were already being resold on sites such as StubHub for as much as $22,000.
The delays, sky-high resale prices, website failures and the outright cancellation of the public sale led to outrage and renewed public scrutiny on Ticketmaster, which merged with Live Nation in 2010.
In a letter to Live Nation Entertainment Inc, Amy Klobuchar, the chair of the Senate’s antitrust committee, expressed “serious concern about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its harmful impact on consumers”.
Tennessee’s attorney general announced a consumer protection investigation into the California-based entertainment company after his office was inundated with complaints from Swift fans.
“Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, its merger with Live Nation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned [sic] in,” tweeted Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as outrage over the debacle percolated online. “They need to break up.”
In 2021, five Democratic House representatives sent a letter asking the justice department to look into Ticketmaster and Live Nation as a potential antitrust violation. The letter claimed Ticketmaster “has strangled competition in live entertainment ticketing and harmed consumers and must be revisited”.
Live Nation Entertainment said late on Friday that it takes its responsibilities under the anti-trust laws “seriously” and “does not engage in behaviours that could justify antitrust litigation.”
Ticketmaster said late on Friday it wanted to apologise to “Taylor and all of her fans – especially those who had a terrible experience trying to buy tickets.” The company said it is working to shore up its technology “for the new bar that has been set by demand for the Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour”.
Asked if Ticketmaster needed more scrutiny, the White House spokeswoman, Karine Jean-Pierre, said Joe Biden was a “strong proponent of increasing competition in our economy” and cited a previous Biden comment that “capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation.”