Explain the Taylor Swift concert ticket brouhaha to me please

I’ve been seeing reports in the news that people around the country are besides themselves with anger because they can’t buy tickets to concerts by pop star Taylor Swift set to take place in 2023.

Firstly, why not? Selling tickets online should be fairly easy now from a technical standpoint.

Second, why the rush? Some of the concerts aren’t until August of next year.

Most of this is Ticket Master has managed to pull off a strange monopoly over Concerts. They own the primary means of ticket Distribution and far too many of the Arenas.

If you want a 20 minute deep dive into this, I present John Oliver.

As best as I can tell, fans could pre-register for a code that supposedly guaranteed a ticket at that venue once they went on sale. Then, it appears they created more codes than tickets available and additionally non code holders also flooded the site in hopes of getting a ticket. After many hours of waiting and being booted from the site, many were left empty handed, even those who had pre registered.

Hasn’t this been the case for the past 30+ years? I remember Pearl Jam trying to organize a boycott and anti-trust suit against them back in the mid 90’s.

Is it like airlines overbooking their flights? They gave out more codes because they figured many people wouldn’t use them, and it would work out in the end?

I vaguely remember this too.

If TM is so bad, why don’t the venues just sell tickets themselves?

It is getting worse and it was already terrible.

15 years ago you could buy Orioles Ticket directly from the Orioles. No Ticket Master Theft. I couldn’t even get my AAA Scranton Railriders tickets without the Ticketmaster fees for no reasons.

As I mentioned and I learned from John Oliver, Ticket Master now owns a lot of the venues.

I don’t think the venues have a problem with them. They wouldn’t have a reason to care if the ticket buying experience is fair or pleasant as long as the seats are sold.

Yeah, when the Pearl Jam thing happened in the 90’s, if I remember correctly, the band was concerned about their fans (mostly teenagers/college age at the time) not being able to afford tickets due to rising prices. The price of the ticket consisted of what the band charged+Ticketmasters fee. Ticketmaster wouldn’t budge on their fee, so the band decided to take a hit themselves and lower their portion in the expectation that the ticket prices would decrease by that amount. $10 per ticket or whatever at the time.

The price of the tickets didn’t change. Ticketmaster just added the $10 the band agreed to give up to the ticketmaster fee. Basically “if you don’t want it, we’ll take it”. Pretty shitty.

I dunno - it’s 50 tour dates where customers can pick the exact seat they want to buy a ticket for, accounting for over 2 million tickets, all being sold at the exact same time. When I bought from Ticketmaster for the “big concert” of the summer, you waited in a physical line and bought whatever they sold you.

I’m sure it’ll be an amazing concert experience, but I can’t imagine spending $500 for nosebleed seats, let alone the thousands that close seats cost.

Have you met any of her fans? Many of them would spend hundreds just for the ecstacy of breathing the same air as their idol.

I was on a field trip with college students when one of them let out a shriek. She was too overcome to speak, but finally gasped “I didn’t have a connection… for half an hour… and… {sob} Taylor dropped a new single!” Her friends were hugging her, but she was inconsolable that she’d heard Taylor’s single "twenty minutes later than EV’ryone else!!"

As kind of an aside, from the NPR story I heard yesterday, Ticketmaster is trying out a “dynamic pricing” model, where the price of at least some of the tickets goes up and down depending on demand. Just like airline pricing.

A few things to add to this;

  • The likelihood of your gwtting a presale code was tied to whether you’ve purchased merch from Taylor’s web store in the past; the more you’ve spent, the likelier you wete to get access

  • Despite this, thousands of bots made it into the presale anyway and bought up tickets which are being resold on scalper sites for as much as $20,000

  • Ticketmaster wasn’t holding seats during the purchase process like it’s supposed to, meaning customers could get all the way through the process and submit their payment info only to be told the seats they’d selected had already been purchased by someone else

  • Ticketmaster sold so many tickets during the presale that they have none left to sell to the general public, so anyone who didn’t get into the presale is out of luck

Oh sure - I have a number of friends and family from the ages of 16 to 45 who are huge fans who all got tickets. I’m really happy for them, and they’ll have an absolute blast. I just can’t imagine personally spending that sort of money on it. But I shouldn’t talk - I’ve spent that kind of money on sporting events, and I usually spend more for good seats. But where I sat for a national championship game will cost thousands and thousands more for a T. Swift concert - pass! :slight_smile:

All of this talk just reminds me of the following lines from The Simpsons:

“And to think, Smithers, you laughed when I bought Ticketmaster! (sarcastic) ‘Nobody’s going to pay a 100% service charge!’”

“It’s a policy that ensures a healthy mix of the rich and the ignorant, sir.”

Vertical monopoly! Almost all of the large venues (or their contracts) are owned by Live Nation, which is owned by TicketMaster. One thing I was listening to earlier was saying it is easier to list the arenas and stadiums NOT controlled by Live Nation, than to list all that are.

The fundamental problem is that there are far, far more people who want a seat at the concerts than there are seats. Combine that with TicketMaster’s ability to do whatever they want, and it is recipe for exploitation and frustration.

To make it even worse, TicketMaster now controls much of the secondary market for tickets.

I was going to start a thread like this myself. I remember hating Ticketmaster in the 90s because their fees were almost as much as the tickets themselves. But… the tickets were like $35. Also, you could avoid the fees by buying the tickets directly from the box office (that is, wait in line like a true fan). Until, that is, Ticketmaster started prohibiting venues from selling their own tickets, which meant you had to pay their outrageous fees.

Once Ticketmaster had exclusive rights, they no longer had to show you how much of the ticket price was their fee. The whole thing is transparent now, with the venue, artist, promoter, and ticketmaster sharing unknown parts of the revenue. And all of that is infuriating.

But… when tickets are hundreds or thousands of dollars (made worse, maybe, by dynamic pricing), that’s just an economic scarcity problem. If Taylor Swift could force Ticketmaster to sell all of her tickets for $50 a pop, there’s still going to be a ton of fans who don’t get to go. Dynamic pricing is one way to deal with economic scarcity; it’s not the only way, but it’s perhaps the most obvious. And I don’t really see how Ticketmaster is to blame for that.

This is well worn territory, but why the hell do I have to pay for a “Digital Convenience Fee” if there’s no option to get it shipped by mail?

For your convenience, of course.

Yes, I read that 15 million people signed up for the presale. With numbers like that, there’s no system in the world that would leave everyone satisfied.