Swifties Declare War on Ticketmaster

Taylor Swift fans are dead set on tearing down the ticketing company if it's the last thing they do

SANTA CLARA, CA - MAY 11:  Taylor Swift high-fives fans during Taylor Swift reputation Stadium Tour ...
Kevin Mazur/TAS18/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Don't Blame Her

We have a national crisis on our hands. Less than 24 hours before tickets for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour were meant to go on sale to the general public, Ticketmaster announced that the sale had been canceled. In a tweet — retweeted by the official Taylor Nation account but not Miss Thing herself — the company stated that the public sale had been canceled “due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand.”

Presumably, this means that nearly every single one of the more than 4 million tickets available for the U.S. leg of the tour sold out during the presale, directly contradicting what Live Nation chairman and new public enemy no. 1 Greg Maffei said when he told CNBC just this morning that the company had sold “over 2 million tickets” on the first day of Verified Fan presale.

Over on Reddit, the vibe on r/TaylorSwift is apocalyptic, with one user writing, “Wait wait wait WHAT? So like there are no tickets left? Everything is sold out? This has to be some sort of sick joke, right? RIGHT????”

“This is my 9/11,” another Swiftie wrote. In response, another fan told them that that was a bit much. That may be true, but the fans are certainly having a lot of big feelings at the moment.

“Swifties are feeling angry and let down,” Ally Jackson, a 26-year-old fan, told me. “Even those of us who got tickets are really sad because the process was so hard and so many of our friends couldn’t get them… This shouldn’t have happened this way and most [fans] just feel defeated and exhausted.”

Jackson was one of the lucky few who managed to wade through Ticketmaster hell during the presale (for three different shows, no less), but she didn’t do so unscathed.

“The first show we got was Glendale, we were in queue for a while and ended up spending $600 per ticket on lower bowl [seats] because they put VIPs on random seats, even though we didn’t want it,” Jackson said. “We had to pick it because seats were going so fast.”

The VIP packages in question drove up the prices on certain tickets. At the lowest level, the VIP treatment includes a “Special Commissioned LED VIP Tour Laminate,” a commemorative ticket, sticker, and pin, a set of four Taylor Swift prints, and a tote bag. One of my own friends who ended up paying $750 for a VIP floor ticket joked (?) that they would be selling the tote bag for $1,000.

Although they are definitely looking for someone to blame, Swifties are still reluctant to place the blame on Swift herself. Instead, fingers are being pointed at Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation.

“I place the absolute large majority of the blame on Ticketmaster and Live Nation for this disaster of a ticket buying experience,” said Kristin Terry, 23. “They are notorious for purposefully scalping fans and allowing bots to snatch up half or more of concert venues to be resold at astronomical prices — all which further lines the pockets of Ticketmaster and Live Nation.”

“I still adore Taylor and I don't blame her for what's happened. I blame Ticketmaster,” said Elizabeth MacKinnon, a 34-year-old Swiftie who has been a fan for nearly 17 years. “I think Ticketmaster gave unfettered access to bots and scalpers and gave ‘verified codes’ to people who were not actual fans because I have seen very few fans get tickets and many scalpers selling tickets for thousands of dollars.”

It’s true that resellers are already running wild with whatever tickets they managed to purchase. If you want tickets to see Swift, your best shot is either coughing up hundreds of dollars for nosebleeds or selling a non-vital organ to get floor seats.

In talking with Swifties, it becomes clear that what they want is a model for ticket buying that actually prioritizes fans instead of resellers. Many have highlighted Ed Sheeran, who managed to make Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan process work back in 2017 on his Divide World Tour. Others pointed out that Swift herself prioritized actual fans on her Reputation Stadium Tour in 2018.

“The system used for Taylor’s Reputation Tour, with creative fandom-driven boosts and a slow ticketing system, was incredibly effective,” Terry said. “I and many fans wish they would reuse that system for future tours.” For tickets to that tour, fans who purchased merch and music were prioritized for tickets. Terry speculated that Ticketmaster no longer allows for this kind of system because “it was effective for fans… they make their money by scamming fans.”

At least one group of fans is organizing in hopes to take down the monopoly that Live Nation has over concert tickets. The Swiftiest, a fan blog, has put out a call to any Swiftie who wants to get involved in “taking Ticketmaster down.” On the site, fans can sign up to get involved in the movement, whether that’s through digital organizing or demanding that politicians kill the ticket-hawking monopoly.

Despite the resource-draining and potentially radicalizing clusterfuck that the Eras Tour has become, Swift’s fans still love her. Some are upset that the singer hasn’t said anything yet, and others are balking at her apparent decision to choose money over fans, but, ultimately, they will not be leaving her side any time soon. As MacKinnon put it, “I have stood by Taylor since 2006 and I'll always stay.”