Ticketmaster has recently taken heat for troubling ticket woes amongst customers. Recently, the organization was hit with a probe from the United States Congress to address ticket issues stemming from the glitches and malfunctioning of Ticketmaster’s website (Da Silva, NBC) last November (2022). Congress took notice of such glitches due to the crash of Ticketmaster’s website when fans tried purchasing tickets for Taylor Swift’s upcoming and highly anticipated “The Eras Tour.” As fans rushed to purchase tickets online for the hotly contested tour, (Precious, MSN) they not only were kicked off the platform, but their tickets in their carts disappeared altogether in some instances.
Ticketmaster’s website had apparently taken a major hit and crashed as thousands of fans tried to purchase. For those who were able to secure tickets, many saw increased fees along with resale tickets that were suddenly popping up online to be sold up to a mere $20,000 and more. The glitches caused outrage amongst fans and customers which brought negative attention to Ticketmaster and their parent company Live Nation. In November, Congress held a hearing with many senators on both sides of the spectrum, both Republicans and Democrats agreed to look into the fiasco. Ticketmaster has since apologized to consumers for the ticket hassles, however the issue still doesn’t seem to be resolved as general tickets are still unavailable to the public and general sales were canceled after the glitches. Taylor Swift herself has spoken out publicly about the ticket fiasco and has expressed frustration over lack of recourse for her fans (CBS Boston).
Just in December, Ticketmaster faced yet another scandal as fans in Mexico City were unable to attend Bad Bunny’s “World’s Hottest Tour” concert in which they bought tickets for, valid purchases included. As fans tried to enter the Estadio Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, they were turned away and denied entry into the show due to speculations of ticket fraud. Anxious fans even tried entering by climbing over the fences to gain entry but were caught by security. Ticketmaster claims they were not expecting so many to show up with a mix of fraudulent and valid tickets, which overwhelmed the system. Apparently, fraudulent tickets have gained traction in Mexico in recent years (Carras, LA Times). Due to such overwhelming chaos at the show, Ticketmaster promised to refund fans who bought valid tickets but were unable to gain entry.
Speaking of Ticketmaster further, how exactly are they related to Live Nation? In 2010, both Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged with each other, and are known as Live Nation Entertainment (Live Nation), which now has much control over live music experiences as Live Nation operates some of the world’s largest tours and venues, (Cohen, Kaplan, Insider). According to Live Nation, the purpose of the merger was to “expand access” to tickets, “improve transparency”, create more “ticket and seating,” options, “reduce pressure on ticket prices,” and create a more valuable and direct experience to artists, (Live Nation). However, as ticket scandals begin to saturate the public over the years, their mission and goals in achieving the best fan and consumer experience comes into question. Ticket competitors are also calling for a split between Live Nation and Ticketmaster as they feel the merger has hurt the ticket industry due to lack of competition and innovation. Jack Groetzinger, CEO of SeatGeek has stated that due to Live Nation owning many event venues, along with ticket operation, they have too much power and control over live entertainment, (Kelly, CNN Business).
According to a CBC news and Toronto Starr investigation, (Tsioulcas, NPR) claims and accusations have been made against Ticketmaster in that they are utilizing ticket scalpers to their own benefit and profit.
In 2018, both CBC news and the Toronto Starr launched an investigation whereas they sent undercover journalists to an entertainment conference held in Las Vegas where they discovered Ticketmaster reps pitching a “company-owned” platform called “TradeDesk” in which ticket scalpers can have access to buy and resale tickets at in inflated price in large quantities, which in turn benefits Ticketmaster as they take a cut in percentages. Ticketmaster themselves have stated their job is to offer a “safe” and “fair” marketplace where both primary and secondary markets can have access, (Racker, TIME). Lawsuits have emerged in the past regarding inflated ticket prices, and has affected multiple fan bases and artists all over the world.
Artists such as Adele, The Backstreet Boys, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift and multiple other artists have all been affected by inflated ticket prices, and have angered and frustrated fans everywhere. During the three-hour antitrust congressional hearing, Live Nation President Joe Berchtold defended Ticketmaster and placed blame on bots and high demand for crashing it’s website. He also stated that Ticketmaster does not set prices, and that is up to the discretion of the venues. Lawmakers and other competitive markets have called for accountability, but at the moment it looks as though no solid solutions have been brought to the table. Until then, we must wait for any solutions that will appease both fans and artists.