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At 10:00 a.m. on Nov. 15, myself and every other Swiftie lucky enough to have landed a presale code dropped what they were doing, opened up their laptops and phones and anxiously joined a queue of over 2,000 people in the hope of landing tickets to Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour, “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour.” 

I was prepared for it to be bad. I knew that Swift was more popular than ever before and that an astounding 1.5 million fans had been awarded presale codes. I knew that by the time I got in, I might be stuck with bad seats, or have to spend more than I wanted to. I did not expect, however, to have my presale code rejected and to get kicked to the back of the queue. Nor did I expect the process to go so horribly that Ticketmaster would be forced to cancel the general public sale on Nov. 18. 

Thankfully — after a long, frustrating couple of days — I and over 2 million others managed to score tickets, but there are millions of other fans who were not as lucky, and apologies from both Ticketmaster and Swift have done little to alleviate the panic. Plans for ticketless fans to have a chance to go to the shows have yet to be announced, and since Swift hasn’t toured since 2018, many superfans are understandably distraught at the idea of being excluded from a chance to see her live again. 

Distraught, however, is not the only emotion fans are feeling about the ticket-purchasing chaos. Many are feeling anger — hot, blood-curdling anger toward Ticketmaster for failing so miserably at a challenge they should have anticipated. Many fans have taken to social media to express this anger, tweeting about the impressive stupidity with which Ticketmaster handled this situation. Even U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., partook in the Ticketmaster slander, calling out the company for its monopolization of the industry and its focus on profits (an issue I will delve into later). I could probably spend this entire article explaining in detail all the fantastical ways they managed to mess this up, but I’ll try and give a brief rundown instead. 

Even though only 1.5 million fans received presale codes, over 14 million people joined the queue to attempt purchasing tickets. Not only that, but throughout the day, they received over 3.5 billion system requests to buy tickets (from both bots and fans), a demand well beyond the inventory they had available for fans. Ticketmaster’s queue system is set up to weed out bots — software used by scalpers hoping to resell the tickets for profit — but when faced with a demand of this size, the system slowed and eventually came to a stop, trapping fans in queues that were not moving anytime soon. 

All day, complaints rolled in from frustrated customers who had been waiting for hours, and Ticketmaster’s only response was to say that this was an unprecedented demand they could not have anticipated — a confusing conclusion considering that they sent out the presale codes and, therefore, must have been well aware of the high demand for tickets. Ticketmaster should have seen this coming. They were naive to think that this sale was going to go as smoothly as any other online ticket sale. 

Not only was Ticketmaster underprepared, but they were also operating under the illusion that only those with presale codes would enter the queue, and that there wouldn’t be a significant rise in the number of bots trying to snag tickets from real fans. You’d have to live under a rock not to grasp the immense popularity Swift holds — brokers were bound to see the potential for profit. Currently, they are trying to take full advantage of the chaos, selling tickets on resale sites for thousands of dollars, an amount simply not feasible to spend on concert tickets, regardless of who the artist is. It is highly likely that these prices will come down, but in the meantime, upset and ticketless fans are grieving a chance to see their favorite artist at the behest of profit-hungry scammers. Even though Ticketmaster is intimately familiar with these bots, they have feigned surprise at the number of them that attempted to infiltrate the presale when — once again — they were well aware of the high demand for tickets and should have expected it.  

You may be thinking that there are some easy solutions to a problem like this: Perhaps they should have made it impossible for anyone to enter the queue without a presale code, or chosen to spread out the presales for individual shows over several days. Both are options that would cut down on the online traffic responsible for the site crashing. They could have implemented a system to prohibit ticket resales from happening on other sites, something they are more than capable of doing. They may have even been better off implementing some of the ticket-buying processes used during the “Reputation Stadium Tour,” where many different components (like how much merchandise they purchased, how much they had listened to Swift’s music and whether they had attended previous concerts) played a role in prioritizing dedicated fans in the ticket-buying process.

However, Ticketmaster was never going to do any of this, and here’s why. 

In 2009, Ticketmaster bought LiveNation, a merger permitted by the Justice Department on the condition that Ticketmaster would sell another ticketing company they owned — all in an effort to prevent them from wielding too much power within the industry. However, they have been accused of violating the terms of the merger on countless occasions, retaliating against concert venues that do not utilize their ticket-buying services by essentially boycotting those venues for all future events they hold. This is especially harmful in an industry where Ticketmaster is often the only option available to sell tickets. Slowly and surely, they are stamping out all other competition in the industry and making it harder and harder for other smaller ticket companies to remain afloat. Their domination of the industry reaches so far that most of the venues hosting Swift’s upcoming tour had no choice but to go through Ticketmaster to sell their tickets. In fact, Ticketmaster is responsible for 70% of all commercial ticket sales in the U.S. Thankfully, their domination has not gone unnoticed. The Department of Justice is launching an antitrust investigation into Ticketmaster and its proceedings, and one can only hope that they face some kind of penalty for their profit-driven decisions. 

It is this crucial fact that has been forgotten in the whirlwind of criticism and backlash following the ticket-buying debacle of Nov. 15: Ticketmaster is a profit-hungry monopoly. They always intended the “Eras Tour” ticket-buying process to be the capitalist circus it became because, at the end of the day, no matter how much they preach the benefits of their “Verified Fan” program, they only really care about bringing home as much money as possible, both for them and for Swift — and how exactly do they accomplish that? By forcing superfans who will do anything to attend the concert to wait for hours upon hours, until all the reasonably priced tickets are gone, and they are forced to shell out hundreds upon hundreds of dollars for a halfway decent seat. The process was a trap, one that Swifties like myself easily fell into. 

I would love to say that Swift is completely innocent in this disaster, but that wouldn’t be entirely correct. While she definitely does not make every single financial decision for herself (she has a team of people for that), she is business partners with Ticketmaster, whose goal — as I stated above — is to make as much money as possible for themselves and for her. Anyone who has seen Swift’s merchandise shop can say with 100% certainty that she is a capitalist, through and through. Fans were told they could earn “boosts” for the “Eras Tour” queue by pre-ordering the album Midnights, as well as the other merchandise she has made available on her website. In the midst of all the backlash following the presale, Taylor Nation proceeded to release yet another “Anti-Hero” remix for fans to buy. Both of these instances aim to leech money off of fans, even in moments of serious confusion and distress. This has caused me and many others to ask the question: Have we not given enough money to this woman? 

There’s no denying that Swift loves and appreciates her fans, but her partnership with a corporation like Ticketmaster and her continuous focus on profits is reflective of her and her team’s priorities: They want to make as much money as possible, often at the fans’ expense.

So, I echo AOC’s sentiments: Ticketmaster needs to be reigned in. They, and the large majority of monopolies and oligopolies in our country, do not have the public’s best interest at heart, and the Eras Tour presale just brought this problem to light. Until we acknowledge this deeper issue, we are getting nowhere. 

Lastly, to all those who did not get tickets who are reading this, I am so sorry. You were robbed. I sincerely hope that Ticketmaster and Swift get their act together and find a way to get more tickets to fans who need them — but please do not spend $30,000 on Stubhub. 

Daily Arts Writer Rebecca Smith can be reached at rebash@umich.edu.