Ticketmaster canceled planned ticket sales Friday to the general public for Taylor Swift’s 2023 US concert tour as 3.5 billion ticket requests from fans, bots and speculators flooded the website with record demand.
Meanwhile, customer complaints about high prices and poor service mounted, and prominent members of the US Congress supported public appeals to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate Ticketmaster on antitrust grounds.
The American singer’s much-anticipated “Eras” tour, her first in five years, has already set the entertainment industry uproar. On Tuesday’s “pre-sale” tour, Ticketmaster said more than 2 million tickets were sold, the most ever for an artist in a single day.
However, the experience left many fans frustrated with long waits and site outages, many unable to obtain tickets.
It was not immediately clear when the remaining tickets could be resold.
Ticketmaster representatives did not immediately respond to interview requests to respond to the criticism, but the company, whose parent is Live Nation Entertainment Inc (LYV.N), issued a statement acknowledging the difficulties fans are facing.
Ticketmaster said 3.5 million people signed up as verified fans, the largest number ever. Ticketmaster said it planned to invite 1.5 million of those to participate in the sale for all 52 showtimes, including the 47 sold out by Ticketmaster, with another 2 million placed on a waiting list.
But the plan, she said, has been undermined by “botnet” attacks — requests for automated programs — and demand from those who had not previously signed up.
“The staggering number of bot attacks as well as fans without invite codes generated unprecedented traffic to our site, resulting in a total of 3.5 billion system requests – 4 times our previous peak,” said Ticketmaster. “Never before has a fan verified for sale generated so much interest — or unwanted volume.”
Swift’s 20-city, 52-stadt tour is scheduled to begin in March in Arizona and end in August with five shows at the 70,000-seat SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
The problems prompted members of the US Congress to question the 2010 merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster, which created a company that dominates the market.
“I have long urged the Department of Justice to investigate the state of competition in the ticket industry,” US Senator Richard Blumenthal said on Twitter Thursday.
US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been linked to an online petition urging the Department of Justice to break up Ticketmaster.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice declined to comment.
In a letter to Ticketmaster, Senator Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate Antitrust Committee, expressed “grave concern about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its harmful effect on consumers.”
“Ticketmaster’s strength in the core ticketing market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically drive companies to innovate and improve their services,” Klobuchar said. “That could lead to the kinds of dramatic failures of service that we’ve seen this week, where it’s the consumers who pay the price.”
Klobuchar asked Live Nation CEO Michael Rapinoe to answer questions including how much the company spent on upgrading technology to handle the surge in demand, and what percentage of tickets for high-profile tours were booked for pre-sales.
Live Nation and Ticketmaster were merged in a 2010 deal approved by the Department of Justice, a deal Klobuchar said she was skeptical about at the time.
Ticketmaster has irked artists and fans for decades. In the mid-1990s, grunge band Pearl Jam decided to tour without using Ticketmaster but found it too impractical and returned to the service after 14 months….. REUTERS