Ticketmaster has blamed a ‘staggering number of bot attacks’ for causing a tidal wave of problems for Taylor Swift fans seeking to purchase tickets for her Eras Tour.
On November 1, Swift, 32 announced a 27-date tour across 20 U.S. cities, running from March to August next year – sparking fan chaos.
Tickets went on sale on Tuesday, but what Ticketmaster termed a ‘historically unprecedented demand’ from millions of fans saw the site crash repeatedly and the process descend into a fiasco, with her supporters furious at the soaring prices and spending hours waiting in line.
Now, after Tennessee’s attorney general Jonathan Skrmetti revealed he was launching an investigation into Ticketmaster, the site has issued a lengthy response blaming bots and fans without invite codes for causing ‘unprecedented traffic’ of 3.5billion users – four times the normal amount.
Oh dear: Ticketmaster has blamed a ‘staggering number of bot attacks’ for causing a tidal wave of problems for Taylor Swift fans seeking to purchase tickets for her Eras Tour (pictured last week)
A statement read: ‘The Eras on sale made one thing clear: Taylor Swift is an unstoppable force and continues to set records. We strive to make ticket buying as easy as possible for fans, but that hasn’t been the case for many people trying to buy tickets for the Eras Tour. We want to share some information to help explain what happened.
Ticketmaster explained that fans needed to register with their system Verified Fan before the sale began, which is designed to ‘help manage high demand shows – identifying real humans and weeding out bots.’
The statement continued: ‘Based on fan interest at registration we knew this would be big. Over 3.5 million people pre-registered for Taylor’s Verified Fan, which is the largest registration in history.
Fiasco: Tickets went on sale on Tuesday, but what Ticketmaster termed a ‘historically unprecedented demand’ from millions of fans saw the site crash repeatedly and the process descend into a fiasco (pictured September)
‘The huge demand for Taylor’s tour informed the artist team’s decision to add additional dates – doubling the tour and number of tickets available so more fans could make it to shows.
‘Historically, around 40% of invited fans actually show up and buy tickets, and most purchase an average of 3 tickets. So working with the artist team, around 1.5 million people were invited to participate in the on sale for all 52 show dates, including the 47 sold by Ticketmaster.
‘The remaining 2 million Verified Fans were put on the waiting list.’
Adding the demand for Taylor ‘broke records and parts of our website’, the statement continued: ‘Historically, working with Verified Fan invite codes has worked as we’ve been able to manage the volume coming into the site to shop for 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.
‘Never before has a Verified Fan on sale sparked so much attention – or uninvited volume. This disrupted the predictability and reliability that is the hallmark of our Verified Fan platform.
Swift accomplished the record-breaking feat of having all 10 of the Billboard Top 100 singles at once, with 10 songs from her new album Midnights
‘It usually takes us about an hour to sell through a stadium show, but we slowed down some sales and pushed back others to stabilize the systems. The trade off was longer wait times in queue for some fans.
‘Overall, we estimate about 15% of interactions across the site experienced issues, and that’s 15% too many, including passcode validation errors that caused fans to lose tickets they had carted.’
They added: ‘The biggest venues and artists turn to us because we have the leading ticketing technology in the world – that doesn’t mean it’s perfect, and clearly for Taylor’s on sale it wasn’t. But we’re always working to improve the ticket buying experience. Especially for high demand on sales, which continue to test new limits.
‘Even when a high demand on sale goes flawlessly from a tech perspective, many fans are left empty handed. For example: based on the volume of traffic to our site, Taylor would need to perform over 900 stadium shows (almost 20x the number of shows she is doing)…that’s a stadium show every single night for the next 2.5 years.
‘While it’s impossible for everyone to get tickets to these shows, we know we can do more to improve the experience and that’s what we’re focused on.’
The Eras Tour would sell a staggering and record-breaking 2 million tickets in just one day.
Response: The site has issued a lengthy response blaming bots and fans without invite codes for causing ‘unprecedented traffic’ of 3.5billion users – four times the normal amount.
This comes as AG SkrmettI launched an investigation into Ticketmaster after the ticketing debacle, digging into the ticketing giant’s procedures ‘to ensure that no consumer protection laws were violated.’
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday called for Ticketmaster to be broken up.
‘Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, it’s merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in,’ she said.
‘Break them up.’
Senator Richard Blumenthal agreed, tweeting: ‘Taylor Swift’s tour sale is a perfect example of how the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger harms consumers by creating a near-monopoly.
‘I’ve long urged DOJ to investigate the state of competition in the ticketing industry. Consumers deserve better than this anti-hero behavior.’
Jonathan Skrmetti said that his office had received numerous complaints, with the official account tweeting on Tuesday: ‘Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti is concerned about consumer complaints related to @Ticketmaster’s pre-sale of @taylorswift13 concert tickets.
‘He and his Consumer Protection team will use every available tool to ensure that no consumer protection laws were violated.’
On Wednesday, Skrmetti said he wanted to make sure there was no wrongdoing.
‘We received a number of complaints, and there’s been significant press coverage that the ticket sale process did not go smoothly,’ he told ABC News’ affiliate WATE.
Jonathan Skrmetti, Tennessee’s attorney general, on Wednesday said that he was launching an investigation into Ticketmaster to ensure consumer rights were being protected
‘There are no allegations, at this time, about any misconduct. But as the attorney general, it’s my job to ensure that the consumer protection laws and antitrust laws in Tennessee are being honored.’
He added that he was concerned about a potential monopoly.
‘We’re talking about a company with an extremely dominant market share, I’ve heard it may be up to 70 percent of the concert venue, ticket sales.
‘Anytime you have that kind of concentration of market share, there’s the risk that the lack of competition will not just drive up prices for consumers.
‘It will also reduce the quality of the product and potentially this is a situation where the quality of the product is reduced.’
Ticketmaster has not responded to Skrmetti’s investigation, but has apologized to customers.
In a statement on Tuesday the company said waiting fans should ‘please hang tight,’ citing ‘historically unprecedented demand’ from millions.
The company also delayed one of the presales a full day.
The American ticketing industry, which the company Ticketmaster overwhelmingly dominates, has for years left concertgoers frustrated by hidden fees, soaring costs, rampant scalpers and limited tickets due to presales.
In 2010, Ticketmaster and the event promotion company behemoth Live Nation merged, which Congressman David Cicilline on Tuesday dubbed ‘an unchecked monopoly.’
He and other legislators in 2021 called for a Justice Department probe into ‘Live Nation’s efforts to jack up prices and strangle competition.’
Swift fans have an enormous online presence and a zeal that leaves them well-positioned to call attention to their plight, but Krista Brown – an analyst at the American Economic Liberties Project, which has urged unwinding the merger – said the chaos ‘is just the latest example.’
‘This isn’t about one artist’s concert or one website crashing,’ Brown told AFP.
‘Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation Entertainment have a monopoly over the industry that lets it regularly abuse its power, leaving customers, artists and venues at its mercy.’
Live Nation recently has reported soaring demand after several pent-up pandemic years, saying ticket sales are up 37 percent compared to 2019.
But while fans have complained of skyrocketing costs – Bruce Springsteen show prices in the thousands of dollars triggered uproar earlier this year – Ticketmaster responded to a recent query from Representative Bill Pascrell by blaming the resale ticketing market, and saying that ‘promoters and artist representatives set pricing strategy and price range parameters.’
‘As the resale ticketing market has grown to more than a $10 billion industry over the past few years, artists and teams have lost that revenue to resellers,’ Ticketmaster said, saying event organizers were trying to ‘recapture that lost revenue’ via ‘market-based pricing.’
Ticketmaster claims the system give fans ‘fair and safe access’ to in-demand tickets with its FAQ page explaining: ‘The prices are adjusted according to supply and demand, similar to how airline tickets and hotel rooms are sold.
Fans of Swift had been vocal Tuesday about problems purchasing tickets for her The Eras Tour with a pre-sale code through Ticketmaster
‘The goal is to give the most passionate fans fair and safe access to the most in-demand tickets while allowing the artists and everyone involved in staging live events to price tickets closer to their fair value.’
However, ‘dynamic pricing’ seems to have caused nothing but headaches for the fans of music’s most popular acts like Taylor Swift, My Chemical Romance and Drake.
Tour prices have surged by hundreds if not thousands of dollars in recent years.
Swift will kick off the American leg of her tour March 18 at Glendale, Arizona’s State Farm Stadium, and will continue through an August 5 at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
Coming soon: Swift will kick off the American leg of her tour March 18 at Glendale, Arizona’s State Farm Stadium, and will continue through an August 5 at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles (pictured last week)