Ticketmaster Faces Antitrust Investigation for Taylor Swift Pre-Sale

The post Ticketmaster Faces Antitrust Investigation for Taylor Swift Pre-Sale appeared first on Consequence.

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti is investigating whether antitrust violations “could be an issue” with Ticketmaster’s handling of Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour,” which crashed the ticket portal and left some users being told they needed to wait up to five days for a response, Bloomberg reports.

“As an industry player, you would think Ticketmaster would be prepared,” Skrmetti said in a press conference announcing that his office was looking into the pre-sale. “Because they have a dominant position, they may have thought they didn’t need to worry about that. This could be an indicator that there’s not enough competition in the market.”

Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation in 2010, and the resulting company controls approximately 70% of the market for primary ticketing and live event venues. (Disclaimer: That dominance extends to those of us trying to keep the lights on while covering live music. Consequence may receive a commission when you click on Ticketmaster links through our website.) So when pre-sale for “The Eras Tour” began Tuesday, November 15th, fans had few other options. According to Live Nation chariman Gregg Maffei, 14 million people attempted to access the Ticketmaster website all at once.

According to Ticketmaster (via Variety), 1.5 million fans were able to instantly buy tickets, while an additional 2 million were sent to a waitlist. The company explained that they prepared for these numbers because “historically, 40% of invited fans actually show up and buy tickets, and most purchase an average of 3 tickets.”

“However, this time the staggering number of bot attacks as well as fans who didn’t have invite codes drove unprecedented traffic on our site, resulting in 3.5 billion total system requests – 4x our previous peak.” The company also celebrated a record-breaking two million Taylor Swift tickets sold — the most ever sold for a single artist in one day.

But 1.5 million people buying tickets plus two million on the waitlist does not add up to the 14 million people trying to access the site, without even reckoning with the bots. The overwhelming traffic led to unloaded pages, timeouts, estimates of five-day-long queues (though those seem to have cleared up long well before the estimates came true), and a frustrating experience, even if you were trying to book your seats for other artists.

“There has been historically unprecedented demand with millions showing up to buy tickets for the TaylorSwiftTixPresale,” Ticketmaster wrote in a statement on November 15th. The company then reshuffled West Coast and Capital One pre-sales in order to spread out demand and thanked users for their patience.

Neither Ticketmaster nor Live Nation have been formally accused of misdeeds, though Skrmetti cited a “severe lack of customer support,” and said he’d be looking into whether Ticketmaster delivered on its promises for fans who registered for pre-sale codes.

Some politicians have gone further and called for Ticketmaster and Live Nation to be broken up. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, “Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, it’s merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in. Break them up.”

Representative David Cicilline, who in 2021 joined three of his colleagues in calling on the Department of Justice to investigate Live Nation, wrote on November 15th,” It’s no secret that Live Nation-Ticketmaster is an unchecked monopoly.”

This is not the first time this year that Ticketmaster drew congressional ire. In September, after the company was heavily criticized for “dynamic pricing” on Bruce Springsteen shows, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. wrote an open letter demanding transparency around the ticketing program.

Meanwhile, general on-sale hasn’t even begun for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour. It starts Friday, November 18th at 10:00 a.m. local time, and until then the pre-sale continues (you can use code HEADLINER). Tickets are available — you guessed it — on Ticketmaster.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional statements from Ticketmaster.

Ticketmaster Faces Antitrust Investigation for Taylor Swift Pre-Sale
Wren Graves

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