Ticketmaster investigated for abuse of power over Taylor Swift ticket sales

After Taylor Swift voiced her displeasure with Ticketmaster, the ticket sale company has issued an explanation and apology to Swift's fans.

The Justice Department is reportedly investigating the parent company of Ticketmaster for possible antitrust violations, this follows the news that Taylor Swift concert ticket sales overwhelmed the Ticketmaster system. (photo credit: JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES)
The Justice Department is reportedly investigating the parent company of Ticketmaster for possible antitrust violations, this follows the news that Taylor Swift concert ticket sales overwhelmed the Ticketmaster system.
(photo credit: JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES)

Ticketmaster apologized for its mismanagement in the sale of tickets for the upcoming Taylor Swift tour, on Saturday.

The ticket sales and distribution company has issued an official statement, explaining the reasons for the extreme prices and the difficulties that many experienced when attempting to purchase tickets earlier this week. 

Ticketmaster released a statement via Twitter, saying: "We want to apologize to Taylor and all of her fans - especially those who had a terrible experience trying to purchase tickets. We feel we owe it to everyone to share some information to help explain what happened".

In the announcement, Ticketmaster tried to explain the technical details regarding the online sale of tickets for the Taylor Swift Eras Tour.

The largest presale registration ever

Ticketmaster said that it expected a record number of people trying to get tickets to the shows. Over 3.5 million people pre-registered for the tour's online presale, the largest registration in history according to Ticketmaster.

 Fans of singer Taylor Swift attend the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 9, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MARK BLINCH) Fans of singer Taylor Swift attend the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 9, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MARK BLINCH)

The company explained that it issued codes for 1.5 million people, with the other 2 million people being placed on the waiting list, with the small chance that some tickets might still be available after that those with codes will be able to purchase their tickets.

"staggering number of bot attacks, as well as fans who didn't have codes drove unprecedented traffic on our site, resulting in 3.5 billion total system requests – 4x our previous peak."

Ticketmaster

However, as the sale of tickets began, a "staggering number of bot attacks, as well as fans who didn't have codes drove unprecedented traffic on our site, resulting in 3.5 billion total system requests – 4x our previous peak," according to the Ticketmaster announcement. 

"Never before has a Verified Fan sale sparked so much attention – or traffic," said the Ticketmaster announcement. This, it claims, explains the long queues that some fans experienced, as Ticketmaster deliberately was slowing down its website in order to stabilize the system.

Ticketmaster also claims that only 5% of the tickets were being posted for resale on secondary markets. 

Some Taylor Swift fans were outraged when the prices of a resale ticket reached outlandish numbers, with the cheapest ticket to the Taylor Swift concert at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey reaching $350, and some tickets reaching as high as $21,600, according to CNN.

Taylor Swift's response

Several days after the launch of her tour ticket sales, Swift released a statement on her Instagram account regarding the controversial incident. "It goes without saying that I’m extremely protective of my fans... It’s really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties, and excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse," she said in the post.

"I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could," she added.

 Singer Taylor Swift poses for a selfie with fans as she arrives to speak at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 9, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MARK BLINCH) Singer Taylor Swift poses for a selfie with fans as she arrives to speak at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 9, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MARK BLINCH)

She also promised that going forward she would be working to improve the situation, saying "there are a multitude of reasons why people had such a hard time trying to get tickets and I'm trying to figure out how this situation can be improved moving forward.

"And to those who didn't get tickets," she continues, "all I can say is that my hope is to provide more opportunities for us to all get together and sing these songs."

Ticketmaster faces the music

Following the Taylor Swift ticket debacle, The New York Times reported that the US Justice Department was investigating whether Ticketmaster parent Live Nation Entertainment had abused its power over the multibillion-dollar live music industry.

Live Nation Entertainment said late on Friday that it takes its responsibilities under the anti-trust laws "seriously" and "does not engage in behaviors that could justify antitrust litigation."

The investigation appears to be broad and began before this week's botched sale of tickets to Swift's tour, the Times said on Friday, quoting anonymous sources. The Justice Department declined to comment.

Ticketmaster has angered artists and fans periodically for decades. In the mid-1990s, the grunge band Pearl Jam decided to tour without using Ticketmaster but found handling ticket sales on its own too unwieldy and returned to the service after 14 months.

Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in a 2010 deal approved by the Justice Department over opposition from some lawmakers and musicians who worried the combined company would become too powerful.

Chaos around the Swift tour prompted calls for the US government to break up the company. Antitrust experts said that argument could find a far more receptive audience than in the past, though it would involve a lengthy process.

Asked if Ticketmaster needed more scrutiny, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden was a "strong proponent of increasing competition in our economy."

She cited a previous Biden comment that "capitalism without competition isn't capitalism. It's exploitation."