By: Natalie Portnoy, Contributing Writer ‘25
When pop star sensation Taylor Swift announced her U.S. stadium tour for the Spring of 2023, her fans, known as Swifties, all across the nation went absolutely crazy. Her first tour since Reputation in 2019 is sure to impress with 52 stadium performances, songs from each of her eras (albums) performed, and reasonably priced seats for a performer of her stature (ranging from $49 to $449) makes it seem like a dream. But the process of ordering tickets to see her live turned into a nightmare as fans discovered a number of problems with the ticket-selling website, Ticketmaster.
The process included a Verified Fan presale, available to those fans who registered as Verified Fans on the Ticketmaster website and were randomly selected to receive a pre-sale code, a subsequent pre-sale for capital one credit card holders, and, finally, a sale of any remaining tickets to the general public.
According to Ticketmaster, 40% of invited verified fans typically purchase tickets, which presumably allows a large number of tickets to be sold to the general public. In the case of the Eras Tour, over 3.5 million fans registered for the Verified Fan presale, of which 1.5 million were provided with codes.
On November 15, 2022, the day of the Verified Fan presale, millions of Swift fans flooded the Ticketmaster website. More than 2 million tickets were purchased on that day (each verified fan has the ability to purchase 6 tickets), leaving virtually no tickets remaining for other pre-sales or the general public, including the 2 million Verified Fans that did not receive pre-sale codes.
Fans lucky enough to obtain pre-sale codes still encountered numerous problems in obtaining tickets, including intermittent outages, lost connections, and hours-long delays. According to Ticketmaster, 15% of interactions on the site had problems, and passcode validation mistakes led to the loss of tickets buyers had already put in their “cart”. Ticketmaster attributes the issues to the unprecedented amount of traffic on the site that day, “We handle onsales for countless top tours, some of the biggest sporting events, and more. Never before has a Verified Fan onsale sparked so much attention – or traffic.”
As you might expect, the public ticket sale scheduled for the following morning had been canceled due to extremely high demand on ticketing systems and a lack of available tickets to match that demand. Millions of fans did not even have an opportunity to buy tickets. Following the fiasco, Swift had the following message “It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.” Swift added that she would try to “figure out how this situation can be improved moving forward.”
Currently, on the secondary market tickets at MetLife range from hundreds of dollars to over 10 thousand dollars.
Gabby Romm, a sophomore at Indian Hills and lifelong Swiftie, spent the majority of her school day in line for tickets. Despite being ecstatic and grateful that she was able to get tickets, she expresses her frustration with the overall situation. “I don’t think it was Taylor’s fault. She made it clear that she wanted buying tickets to be as easy as possible. Ticketmaster’s monopoly on the industry puts them in the position to exploit fans by allowing this to happen and making fans pay large fees. Ticketmaster did not follow through with their promises.”
Isabella Saldano takes the opposite stance on this issue, “I’m not sure what people were expecting,” she remarked. “Given that Taylor is one of the most popular artists of all time, I think that people should have known that it would be difficult to purchase tickets and that there would not be enough seats for everyone. I don’t believe Taylor is fully to blame, but she is the one who best understands the size and enthusiasm of her fandom. Due to bots and resellers, the option to buy six tickets should not have been available. She should have implemented extra measures collaboratively with Ticketmaster if she really wanted more of her supporters to buy less expensive tickets. You can’t just blame Ticketmaster and not look back at the artist as well.”
All in all, popular artists and Ticketmaster need to work together to help solve problems, so fans can stop seeing Red.