Ticketmaster Issues Apology Amid Taylor Swift Ticket Debacle

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Ticketmaster, the leading source for concert ticket sales, has issued an apology.

The ticketing giant has also attempted to explain what, exactly, happened this week when millions of fans were denied the ability to purchase tickets to Taylor Swifts The Eras Tour.

Wrote the company in the statement, which you can see in its entirety below (with a handy graph), “We strive to make ticket buying as easy as possible for fans, but that hasn’t been the case for many people trying to buy tickets for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour. First, we want to apologize to Taylor and all of her fans—especially those who had a terrible experience trying to purchase tickets. Next, we feel we owe it to everyone to share some information to help explain what happened.”

Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation, has also recently issued a statement, attempting to prop up Ticketmaster, highlighting its history of innovation and its “fan-friendly” interface. That statement comes after Live Nation’s stock dropped eight percent, closing at $66.21, in trading on Nov. 18.

Ticketmaster’s full statement is available below. But the highlights include the outlet saying Swift’s fans showed up in record numbers and “broke” part of Ticketmaster’s website.

Ticketmaster also wrote, “Historically, we’ve been able to manage huge volume coming into the site to shop for tickets… However, this time the staggering number of bot attacks, as well as fans who didn’t have codes, drove unprecedented traffic on our site, resulting in 3.5 billion total system requests—4x our previous peak.”

The apology continued, “We handle sales for countless top tours, some of the biggest sporting events, and more. Never before has a Verified Fan on sale sparked so much attention—or traffic.”

And: “Over 2 million tickets were sold on Ticketmaster for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour on Nov. 15—the most tickets ever sold for an artist in a single day.

“The biggest venues and artists turn to us because we have the leading ticketing technology in the world—that doesn’t mean it’s perfect, and clearly for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour on sale it wasn’t. But we’re always working to improve the ticket-buying experience. Especially for high-demand onsales, which continue to test new limits. 

“We’re working to shore up our tech for the new bar that has been set by demand for the Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour. Once we get through that, if there are any next steps, updates will be shared accordingly.”

As many know by now, on Nov. 15, the Ticketmaster site experienced significant delays when 14 million people logged on to purchase pre-sale tickets for The Eras Tour. Millions of users were left on delayed ticketing queues with some forced to leave the “line” and start the purchasing process all over again. At one point, the page for Eras tickets appeared to have shut down completely due to the overwhelming demand. By the end of the initial sale, 2.4 million fans were able to purchase tickets before Ticketmaster cancelled any further ongoing ticket sales to the public due to extreme demand.

Without specifically naming Live Nation or Ticketmaster, Swift shared her distress over the situation with fans on social media.

“It’s really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties, and excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse,” wrote Swift. “There are a multitude of reasons why people had such a hard time trying to get tickets and I’m trying to figure out how this situation can be improved moving forward. I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could.”

Ticketmaster has long been criticized for its business practices and exorbitant ticket prices in addition to high service fees. The crash around the Taylor Swift concert tickets comes as the Justice Department was in the process of investigating the dominance Live Nation has over the live music and ticket market.

Ticketmaster’s full statement:

We strive to make ticket buying as easy as possible for fans, but that hasn’t been the case for many people trying to buy tickets for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour. First, we want to apologize to Taylor and all of her fans – especially those who had a terrible experience trying to purchase tickets. Next, we feel we owe it to everyone to share some information to help explain what happened:

WE KNEW A RECORD NUMBER OF FANS WANTED TICKETS TO TAYLOR’S TOUR

  • By requiring registrations, Verified Fan is designed to help manage high demand shows—identifying real humans and weeding out bots. Keeping bots out of queues and avoiding overcrowding helps to make wait times shorter and onsales smoother. 
  • Based on fan interest at registration we knew this would be big. Over 3.5 million people pre-registered for TaylorSwiftTix Presale powered by Verified Fan, which is the largest registration in history. 
  • Historically, around 40% of invited fans actually show up and buy tickets, and most purchase an average of 3 tickets. Around 1.5 million people were sent codes to join the onsale for all 52 show dates, including the 47 sold by Ticketmaster. 
  • The remaining 2 million Verified Fans were placed on a waiting list on the small chance that tickets might still be available after those who received codes had shopped. 

THE DEMAND FOR TICKETS TO TAYLOR’S TOUR BROKE RECORDS – AND PARTS OF OUR WEBSITE

  • Historically, we’ve been able to manage huge volume coming into the site to shop for tickets, so those with Verified Fan codes have a smooth shopping process. However, this time the staggering number of bot attacks as well as fans who didn’t have codes drove unprecedented traffic on our site, resulting in 3.5 billion total system requests—4x our previous peak.
  • We handle onsales for countless top tours, some of the biggest sporting events, and more.  Never before has a Verified Fan onsale sparked so much attention—or traffic. This disrupted the predictability and reliability that is the hallmark of our Verified Fan platform. Here’s a look at how that traffic compared to every other day on our site this year:
  • It usually takes us about an hour to sell through a stadium show, but we slowed down some sales and pushed back others to stabilize the systems. The trade off was longer wait times in queue for some fans. 
  • Overall, we estimate about 15% of interactions across the site experienced issues, and that’s 15% too many, including passcode validation errors that caused fans to lose tickets they had carted.

DESPITE THE DISRUPTIONS A NEW SALES RECORD WAS SET

  • Over 2 million tickets were sold on Ticketmaster for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour on Nov. 15—the most tickets ever sold for an artist in a single day.
  • All 2 million tickets for the Verified Fan onsale were sold to Verified Fans. Only ticket buyers who were verified were permitted to enter a queue. Verification is tied to a user’s account and validated at login, which is why users only had to login to enter the queue. For additional security, ticket buyers also had to enter their unique code to complete their purchase. No one who wasn’t verified was allowed to enter the queue, but the huge traffic hitting the site overall meant we had to slow down queues to keep them stable.
  • 2.4 million tickets have been sold for the tour overall across onsales for Verified Fans and Capital One cardholders, on both Ticketmaster and SeatGeek.
  • Less than 5% of the tickets for the tour have been sold or posted for resale on the secondary market. Onsales that don’t use Verified Fan typically see 20-30% of inventory end up on secondary markets. 

The biggest venues and artists turn to us because we have the leading ticketing technology in the world—that doesn’t mean it’s perfect, and clearly for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour onsale it wasn’t. But we’re always working to improve the ticket buying experience. Especially for high demand onsales, which continue to test new limits. 

We’re working to shore up our tech for the new bar that has been set by demand for the Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour. Once we get through that, if there are any next steps, updates will be shared accordingly.

Even when a high demand onsale goes flawlessly from a tech perspective, many fans are left empty handed. For example: based on the volume of traffic to our site, Taylor would need to perform over 900 stadium shows (almost 20x the number of shows she is doing)…that’s a stadium show every single night for the next 2.5 years. While it’s impossible for everyone to get tickets to these shows, we know we can do more to improve the experience and that’s what we’re focused on.

Photo by Emma McIntyre/AMA2019/Getty Images for dcp

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