Ticketmaster has had numerous issues over the years. Normally, the issues come about from system availability during high-profile ticket sales. However, none of them have brought the company to the point where they cancel all public sales of tickets for a particular event. This week, that changed when the company canceled the sales of all public tickets for the Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour. This move angered consumers and the government alike.
The ticketing issue
Whether you like Taylor Swift or not, you know that there are millions who do enjoy her and her music. As such, when Taylor Swift announced that a new tour was beginning, people were excited to get their hands on tickets. Add to that the fact that this is her first tour in 5 years, and demand is going to be even greater. Plus, of course, the increasing issue with automated purchasing systems from resellers, and anyone could have guessed that the Ticketmaster systems were going to be busy.
The problem is that Ticketmaster seems to have missed this memo. In a world of cloud services, Ticketmaster likely just needed to add additional resources behind their service and they could have handled any number of requests. The reality, however, is that the Ticketmaster systems were immediately overwhelmed and shut down as soon as pre-sale tickets were made available. Some people lost out on tickets they were in the process of purchasing. Others were charged for tickets they never received. In at least one case, a dozen or so transactions were processed for ticket orders that were never completed.
As a result of the overwhelming demand and the completely collapse of the system, Ticketmaster announced that they were canceling their planned public sales of the tickets effective immediately. Obviously, customers were stunned and upset - a promise had been made and the company was unable to make good on that promise. But, customers had no choice but to be upset.
The company has claimed that they were not the problem, but instead caused by bots. In addition to the bots, people just like Taylor Swift too much. But, the good news is that, in addition to them believing it to not be their fault, they set a new sales record. Hooray?
Ticketmaster's market position
Under normal circumstances, customers would go to another retailer to purchase their product. When a drop of new consoles is made available, people flock to various retailers to get them. However, in the case of concert tickets, customers generally only have one choice: Ticketmaster. Due to venue contracts, exclusivities, and other complicated factors, Ticketmaster controls nearly every aspect of the ticketing industry.
After the company's merger with Live Nation in 2021, the company managed to gain nearly complete control over the industry. That position has caused no end of troubles, from constantly increasing ticket prices to mandatory processing fees. Customers hate Ticketmaster, but there is no way to avoid the company if you want to see a concert, sporting event, or even smaller events at certain venues.
As a result of the ticketing system collapsing, customers being left without tickets, and customer complaints about charges, investigations have been opened by the US Department of Justice, and Attorneys General for the states of North Carolina and Tennessee. The investigations are into whether or not the Live Nation and Ticketmaster organization constitutes a monopoly because of its size and market position. The claim is that only a company with monopolistic powers could completely cancel public sales for an entire concert tour.
This is just the first stage of what could possibly happen for the company, but an antitrust investigation could potentially lead to a lawsuit and, eventually, a breakup.