High Demand for Concert Tickets Leads to Senate Hearing for Ticketmaster

Taylor Swift fans sue Ticketmaster for troubles during “The Eras Tour” presale


Hailey Davies

Taylor Swift “The Eras Tour” tickets to her show in Houston, Texas on April 21.

Hailey Davies, Reporter

Presale tickets for Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour” were available for purchase beginning on Nov. 15. Leading up to the presale, Ticketmaster had sent codes to verified fans of the artist. Ticketmaster had stated that 3.5 million fans registered for the Verified Fan program. Due to the high number of interest, Swift’s team added additional tour dates. The company says that using Verified Fan invite codes has historically helped manage the volume of visitors visiting the site at once. 

During the presale, fans complained of multiple difficulties while on the site. Fans spent hours waiting in the presale lobby with no movement. The site had kicked multiple people off, and had many connection errors. The site that was open for 1.5 million fans, and somehow 2.4 million people had gained tickets. Ticketmaster argues that the site crashing occurred due to bots/scalpers hitting the sites in high demand. There were 14 million people trying to enter a code at once, resulting in errors all around. Tickets were taken out of carts when they were attempted for purchase. The entire presale was also pushed back for multiple time zones as well as a whole day for the Capital 1 presale. This led to the cancellation of general sales in total. 

Live Nation Entertainment INC and Ticketmaster LLC were sued in U.S. federal court in California. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Taylor Swift ticket purchaser in Washington state which accused the companies of scheming to eliminate competition in the multibillion-dollar live music industry. The complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court seeks class action status. This appears to be at least the second one filed over the Taylor Swift ticket fiasco. The litigation in U.S. court comes as Live Nation and Ticketmaster face renewed calls for U.S. regulators to break up the company. 

“Taylor Swift and other popular musicians have no choice but to sell their tickets through Ticketmaster, and their fans have no choice but to purchase tickets through Ticketmaster primary ticketing platform,” the lawsuit alleged. Swift said previously that her team had been assured by ticket sellers that they could handle a demand surge.

The case Sterioff v. Live Nation Entertainment Inc. and Ticketmaster LLC, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 2:22-cv-09230, had its first hearing on Jan. 24, at 10 a.m. The hearing represented a moment of reckoning for the company. Many of the questions launched by lawmakers were directed toward Joe Berchtold, the president of Live Nation.

“This is unbelievable,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn said. 

“Why is it,” she continued, “that you have not developed an algorithm to sort out what is a bot and what is a consumer?” Berchtold acknowledged issues in the industry.

Sen. John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, was even more harsh. “The way your company handled the ticket sales with Ms. Swift,” he said, “was a debacle.” Objections to Live Nation’s business have grown louder in recent years, when the Justice Department said that the company had “repeatedly violated” the terms of its regulatory agreement. 

Although the hearing was focused very little on Taylor Swift and majorly on the monopoly of Ticketmaster in general, the singer’s influence could be felt inside the court. Through witnesses and Senators, Swift’s voice was heard.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, addressed the court saying “May I suggest respectfully that Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m the problem, it’s me.”

A witness, Sal Nuzzo, said that for Swift fans, the entire situation had them saying, “this is why we can’t have nice things.” The appearance of Taylor Swift song lyrics kept the audience in remembrance of why they are there in the first place. Jennifer Kinder, the Dallas-based attorney representing Swift fans in their lawsuit, helped organize a protest outside the hearing. One sign tells Ticketmaster “your reputation has never been worse,” referring to a Swift song.

This case has brought people together against the monopoly that is Ticketmaster.