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Taylor Swift demand overwhelms Ticketmaster, leaving fans waiting for hours

Nov. 15, 2022 Updated Tue., Nov. 15, 2022 at 8:44 p.m.

Taylor Swift attends the “All Too Well” New York premiere on Nov. 12, 2021, in New York City.  (Tribune News Service)
Taylor Swift attends the “All Too Well” New York premiere on Nov. 12, 2021, in New York City. (Tribune News Service)
By Tatum Hunter Washington Post

Taylor Swift’s long-awaited return to touring spelled disaster Tuesday for live-events site Ticketmaster as fans scrambled to secure their seats for the singer-songwriter’s “Eras” show.

Millions of Swift fans descended on Ticketmaster early Tuesday to jostle for spots at “Eras,” her first tour in four years and as many albums. Many quickly took to social media to report glitches and delays that left them ticketless. Buyers reported frozen queues and broken checkouts on the site, and hours into the mayhem, Ticketmaster tweeted that demand for the shows was “unprecedented” and that people in queues should “hang tight.” It also rescheduled some presale events to Wednesday.

“This was going to be my first Taylor Swift show, and I was planning on taking my mom and two sisters,” said Amy Ziemak, a 35-year-old from Cleveland who says she made it to the front of the Ticketmaster queue four times and each time got served an error message. “Now I’ve pretty much accepted that we’re not going.”

Representatives from Ticketmaster didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Brad Lefeld and his wife knew that getting Swift tickets would require some strategy, so they signed up for a presale code to get early access to Ticketmaster’s queue. Three and a half hours into waiting, Lefeld was sweating as he viewed his place in line. He’d gone from 4,624th to 1,571st, but progress was slowing and as far as he was concerned, the stakes were high.

“We’re classic millennials,” said Lefeld, a 33-year-old graphic designer. “Taylor Swift is our age, so we’ve grown up with her whole entire music journey.”

While some fans and onlookers criticized Ticketmaster for seemingly failing to prepare for the high volume of web traffic, others looked deeper at the company’s merger with event company Live Nation and domination over the ticketing industry.

“Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, it’s merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in,” tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Ticketmaster has come under fire before for charging high service fees and enabling predatory resellers – some StubHub tickets have been priced at $12,000 or more. Chaos around the Swift tickets is just the latest example of Ticketmaster’s bad service, said Krista Brown, senior policy analyst for the American Economic Liberties Project, an antitrust nonprofit that has led the charge against the company.

But the incident could be a tipping point as concertgoers get increasingly frustrated. Messing with Swifties, as plenty of companies and individuals have learned, is a dangerous game.

“Ticketmaster said they’re experiencing a historic number of people on their site or like these are things they weren’t absolutely prepared for, but that’s kind of an excuse in my head,” said Allie Wesel, a 25-year-old in Chicagoland who said she’s been loyal to Swift since childhood. She’d been stuck in a frozen online queue for more than three hours.

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