When Taylor Swift’s Midnights album was released, it broke records for the number of streams, the number of sales, and the number of songs that topped the charts.
Now, the singer-songwriter’s upcoming US tour has completely imploded Ticketmaster, with millions of fans left unimpressed and politicians calling for the ticket giant to be dismantled.
So what really happened, why are politicians getting involved, and what did Ticketmaster say?
On Tuesday, millions of Taylor Swift fans tried to buy pre-sale tickets for the singer-songwriter’s The Eras Tour of the US, causing periodic outages and long waits online.
Fans reported waiting in lines online for up to eight hours, and many found they were too late to purchase tickets, which cost between $49 (US$73) and $449 (US$668) each.
The pre-sale includes tickets that are made available to a select group before they go on sale to the general public.
“I’m a failure as a father,” writes Dave Bell, author of the popular NextDraft newsletter.
“The only time my daughter really needed me to come across for her, I ended up looking out, banished to the barren badlands of the Taylor Swift ticket queue,” he said.
Other fans said they were repeatedly dropped from waiting lists and directed their anger at Ticketmaster. Some said they took the day off work and felt the process should have run more smoothly.
Wait times of several hours were also reported on ticket seller SeatGeek, which was selling tickets for Swift’s shows in Arlington, Texas, and Glendale, Arizona. SeatGeek said it, too, had seen high demand and urged fans to “be patient.”
Another presale, for Capital One credit card holders, has been postponed from Tuesday to Wednesday.
Some buyers are already looking to cash in on the heat, with ticket sellers trying to bring in up to $28,000 ($41,700) per ticket on Wednesday.
Ticketmaster, which is owned by Live Nation Entertainment, said the sale resulted in “unprecedented demand” that was causing delays and that it worked quickly to resolve it.
Why are some politicians now calling for Ticketmaster to be dismantled?
Not only were members of the public frustrated with Ticketmaster, US politicians also took to Twitter to criticize the company.
“Excess wait times and TicketMaster fees are totally unacceptable, as evidenced by @taylorswift13’s tickets today,” Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline wrote on Twitter.
He added that the 2010 merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, which received approval from the US Department of Justice, should not be allowed.
“It’s no secret that Live Nation-Ticketmaster is an unchecked monopoly,” he said.
The ticket industry has frustrated Americans for years with hidden fees, limited ticket availability due to pre-sales, and other annoyances.
Mr. Cicilline, who chairs the House antitrust committee, called on the Justice Department to investigate.
New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the company needed to “take control”.
“Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, and its merger with LiveNation should never be approved, they should be controlled,” she wrote on Twitter.
“break them up.”
What did Ticketmaster say?
The ticketing site for fans said Tuesday morning, via a statement on Twitter, that it is experiencing “intermittent issues” that the company is working “urgently” to resolve.
Later, Ticketmaster tweeted that there had been “historically unprecedented demand” for Swift’s first tour since 2018, from millions of people. Ticket sales for West Coast shows were delayed by three hours.
Ticketmaster said hundreds of thousands of people have already secured tickets for Swift’s tour.
A Ticketmaster spokesperson said more than twice as many people signed up for early sale as there were tickets available, and millions more have jumped online to buy.