“This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” TicketMaster Chaos Causes Uproar Among Fans

November 15, 2022 is a date that may live in infamy. With thousands of people logging on to their computers to wait for hours for the chance to see lights come up on stage and to hear Taylor Swift sing.

After a five-year wait and a six-album streak since Taylor Swift’s last tour, fans were ready to experience a live show again. But few predicted the chaos that it would bring. 

Ticketmaster, a huge company that sells tickets for every major venue in the U.S., handled the ticketing for the upcoming Taylor Swift | Eras Tour. As part of the preparation, many fans were given presale codes for certain shows, the sale of which would come on November 15. Then a few days later, general admittance would open up for those who did not get presale codes. 

When November 15 came, people rearranged their entire days to get these highly-coveted tickets. Some took a day off of work, students left school, and even House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, “It came up on a more personal level; I actually have quite a few staff who were trying to get tickets that day.” 

There are thousands of people with stories from that day, and one comes from a 2021 Lincoln High School grad and my sister, Ainsley Frederick. Frederick has been an avid Taylor listener since the 1989 era and was dead set on getting tickets for the upcoming tour. Going through the Verified Fan system on Ticketmaster, both Ainsley and myself got presale codes. Ainsley for the Philadelphia show, and I for Chicago. Ainsley’s original goal was to get Philly tickets for her and her friends because it’s closer to Washington, DC where she attends college. She also wanted to buy Chicago tickets for her, me, and our mother. But as many Taylor fans can relate to, things did not go to plan. 

When the time came, Ainsley signed into her account on her roommate’s desktop and logged into my account on her laptop. Her focus was originally on the Philly tickets but when she got through the waiting room to buy them, the whole Ticketmaster site crashed and she was kicked out. When she tried to sign in again, the site thought that she was a “bot” which prevented her from getting in. After calling in her boyfriend for backup, they found that “every ticket was either $1,000+ or behind the stage, so [she] decided against buying Philly tickets.”

So Ainsley focused her attention on Chicago. After another long wait, she bought three VIP tickets. 

But many Taylor Swift fans were not as lucky. After the chaos of the presale, Swift and Ticketmaster announced that the general sale would be canceled. Partially because they were running out of space in the venues. The other reason Ticketmaster canceled the general sale was because their website was not prepared for the unprecedented number of users on the day of the presale. However, fans are not accepting this because they had access to the number of users with presale codes and many are saying that if Ticketmaster thought their site couldn’t handle the amount of traffic, they should have made changes before the day came. 

This caused outrage among Taylor’s fans. Even for people like my sister who got tickets, many dove into a deep study of what went wrong. According to Ainsley, the primary problem is the monopoly that Ticketmaster holds over the industry. After their merger with Live Nation (which owns nearly every major venue in the US), Ticketmaster became the only name in the business. Frederick says, “They get away with so many things, like hidden fees, working with scalpers, and dynamic pricing because there is no one to hold them accountable.” For each of the tickets Ainsley bought, there were $100 in fees, which she didn’t know about until checkout. 

As a result of the Eras Tour situation, the Senate has had hearings investigating the Ticketmaster monopoly. It may be an important hearing, the result of which could affect the music industry for many years, but senators have also used it as an opportunity to quote Taylor Swift. Of the three hours of hearings, 52 minutes of that consisted of Senators making Swift references.  

Nevertheless, Taylor’s fans are thankful for the hearings, hoping that they will create change for the entertainment industry going forward. Ainsley made this point by saying, “Fans of all socioeconomic statuses deserve to be able to afford tickets, not just wealthy fans who can afford to drop months’ worth of rent on a single ticket.”