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Taylor Swift fans sue Ticketmaster over The Eras Tour ticketing meltdown

By | Published on Monday 5 December 2022

Taylor Swift

A group of Taylor Swift fans have sued Live Nation’s Ticketmaster over all the issues that occurred when tickets went on sale for her 2023 US tour because, well, of course they have.

There was plenty of social media outrage, resulting in widespread news coverage and political commentary, after Live Nation’s Ticketmaster recently struggled to cope with the demand for tickets for Swift’s ‘The Eras Tour’, her first live shows in five years.

Following the ticketing meltdown, Ticketmaster issued an apology to Swift and her fans, saying that unprecedented demand for ‘The Eras Tour’, as well as an army of bots trying to circumvent its Verified Fan system in order to buy up tickets to resell on the secondary market, put its platform under incredible strain.

“Never before has a Verified Fan onsale sparked so much attention – or traffic”, the company stated. “This disrupted the predictability and reliability that is the hallmark of our Verified Fan platform. 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”.

The whole debacle has put the Ticketmaster business back in the spotlight, with critics once again hitting out at that the market dominance of Live Nation/Ticketmaster and the primary ticketing firm’s continued involvement in the secondary marketing in the US.

That’s in turn prompted US politicians to again consider competition – or the lack of thereof – in the US live music and ticketing marketplace, and continuing issues with secondary ticketing, including the illegal use by touts or scalpers of those bots to buy up tickets.

In the lawsuit filed by these aggrieved Swift fans with the courts in California, Live Nation/Ticketmaster’s market dominance and its involvement in the secondary market are both criticised.

According to Pitchfork, the lawsuit states that “because no other venue can hold half as many people as the stadiums and venues working through Ticketmaster, Taylor Swift and other popular musicians have no choice but to work through Ticketmaster”.

“Because artists like Taylor Swift have to go through Ticketmaster, their fans do as well”, it goes on. “This means virtually all major music concert ticket sales in California and the United States go through Ticketmaster’s primary ticket platform”.

It then alleges that Ticketmaster “allows scalpers to buy up tickets over buyers who actually plan to attend the performances”. And while schemes like Verified Fan are actually an attempt to stop that, “in reality [Ticketmaster] has taken steps to make additional profit from the scalped tickets”.

How Ticketmaster will respond remains to be seen. Although with lawsuits of this kind, the usual initial response is that Ticketmaster’s terms and conditions state that consumer grievances have to be taken to independent arbitration rather than be pursued through the courts.

Given that the plaintiffs presumably all signed up with the ticketing firm’s Verified Fan system to access the pre-sale of Swift’s tickets, they are presumably bound by those terms. Or, at least, it seems likely that’s what Ticketmaster will argue.