The Complicated Tale of the Taylor Swift “The Eras Tour”

Ticketmaster faces a U.S. Senate antitrust panel


Samowich attends the Reputation Stadium Tour in 2018. After this tour, Taylor Swift is performing the Eras Tour.

Roaring crowds stand in the bright concert light, chanting their favorite songs with unique vigor. Normally, concert-goers face high prices, long lines, and a need for more parking. This time, however, “swifties” ordered tickets months in advance for concerts in far away cities. Additionally, the “swifties” experienced long queues, failed checkouts and freezing screens on Ticketmaster. 

Following this disaster, a U.S. Senate antitrust panel is gearing up for a hearing on the lack of competition in the ticketing industry. This has been one of the many times the app was subject to government scrutiny. Pearl Jam, a band that was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017, attempted to conduct their tour without using Ticketmaster and submitted an antitrust complaint against the company 30 years ago. However, Ticketmaster has gained even more power in the computerized ticketing market through the acquisition of competition and exclusive contracts with venues. In 1991, for example, the app acquired Ticketron, its main competitor. In 2010, Ticketmaster bought a juggernaut in show promotion and venue operation, Live Nation. 

Ticketmaster attempted to limit the traffic on their website by limiting the number of people to those selected as “verified fans.” The singer likened getting tickets for “The Eras Tour” to surviving “bear attacks” after the presale. The company published a response to the problems in a blog post. 

“The staggering number of bot attacks [during Swift ticket sales] as well as fans who didn’t have invite codes drove unprecedented traffic on our site, resulting in 3.5 billion total system requests—4x our previous peak,” the Ticketmaster blog said. 

While only a million and a half verified fans were supposed to go to the site for the presale, 3.5 billion requests flooded the site. The general public sale was later scrapped and replaced with a modified lottery system.

“The plan was just whoever can get in, we’ll buy tickets for… [the] six of us,” senior Zoe Woerhrmyer said. “[My friend] stayed home from school to [stay] on Ticketmaster and buy tickets and she ended up getting to number one in line at one point after five hours and of course it crashed.”

Many other fans had the same experience. Woerhrmyer ultimately got nosebleed tickets from another group member that received tickets, but then the friend who was kicked out at number one in line got a message from the app.

“My friend got a code to buy tickets [in the lottery for general sales],” Woerhrmyer said. “I think it was for some people who were presale who didn’t end up getting tickets. They gave them a code to buy tickets again. I don’t really know [how or why], but that happened to her and she ended up buying two tickets.”

The price was significantly reduced compared to the rising rates during the presale, and the tickets were floor seats instead of the tickets in the nosebleeds. While Woerhrmyer’s friend ultimately ended up with two cheap floor tickets from Ticketmaster, sophomore Laney Samowich ended up with expensive tickets secondhand on StubHub that she is trying to sell. 

“I didn’t get Ticketmaster tickets, and I ended up getting the really expensive ones, but they’re way too expensive, so I’m trying to sell [them],” Samowich said.

Samowich tried to buy these tickets after being impressed by the Reputation Tour when she was younger. She described scammers going onto the Ticketmaster site and buying scores of tickets to sell on a secondary market for a higher price to desperate Taylor Swift fans. In fact, more than two dozen disappointed fans filed a class-action lawsuit accusing Ticketmaster of fraud, misrepresentation, and antitrust violations after they failed to prepare for “The Eras Tour”presale.

“Eight of my friends submitted for the presale, and none of us got that,” Samowich said. “Everyone in my family has a Capital One card, so my friend actually left school early to go to my house and wait in the queue.” 

Taylor Swift has a deal with Capital One so every time she goes on tour, those with a Capital One credit or debit card have a separate presale for their tickets before public sale and have to pay with their Capital One card. The code to get into the presale is certain digits of the card. Her friend waited for three hours at Samowich’s house for the Capital One presale because she had not reached “verified fan” status, but nothing happened. Then, Samowich came home and dealt with Ticketmaster herself. 

“Every time I would click [the button] it would load and be like, how many tickets do you want,” Samowich said, “And eventually you can only get two, but every time you click add to cart, it’d say, ‘oh, somebody else already got these tickets.’” 

Even despite Ticketmaster, one of the reasons that it was so difficult to buy tickets is the popularity of the artist. With 188 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and 40 top ten hits, Taylor Swift’s popularity cannot be disputed. Her new album, “Midnights,” broke her own record for the largest overall week for any album in just four days.

“I’ve been saying for months that [Taylor Swift] had to do a tour that had all of the eras in it because of all the re-recordings and stuff she’s been doing,” senior Juliana Lomas said. “I’d like to see some songs like ‘Enchanted’ and ‘Speak Now.’”

Lomas is excited to see the community of “swifties” and thinks that Taylor Swift can act as a role model for many young girls. Additionally, Swift has broken into many other fields with her music. Her documentary “Miss Americana” has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and her short film “All Too Well” (10 Minute Version) was rated highly.

“I think it’s just fun to see a bunch of people that have similar interests [at the concert],” Lomas said. “Some of the Tik Toks get a little crazy with all the theories [about Swift’s music]. [They] are always the most funny to watch because some of them are really out of left field. And then sometimes they’re right and that’s cool when people can figure out all the little easter eggs and stuff.”

Lomas also likes the music because there is always a Taylor Swift song for her mood, including her current favorite, “Cowboy Like Me.”

“I like that she’s able to come up with so many different sounds and still be one of the most popular artists right now,” Lomas said. “It’s not super common to have someone who can go from country to pop to more alternative music and still be good.”

Woerhrmyer looks forward to the Taylor Swift “The Eras Tour” concert in Philadelphia. Two of her favorites of Swift’s songs are “Clean” and “Fearless”, and she looks forward to seeing those songs and others in concert.

“I’ve heard that she puts on a really good show,” Woerhrmyer said. “I’m really excited to see and hear the songs performed live … I think it’s gonna be a lot different than just sitting in my room listening to them on my phone.”