(Photo courtesy of NPR) “Music fans against Ticketmaster rallying outside the U.S. Capitol during the Ticketmaster Senate hearing.”
Ticketmaster has been the (negative) talk of the town recently. During the COVID-19 pandemic, consummate singer-songwriter Taylor Swift released five studio albums, two of which were re-recorded. Swift also announced her Eras Tour in 2023 to celebrate her music releases. Unfortunately, the site crashed when millions (no joke) of fans flooded Ticketmaster in an attempt to buy tickets. Amid that crash and reports of price gouging, Ticketmaster faced intense scrutiny. The criticism was so awful that the Senate started an investigation accusing them of monopoly, antitrust law and consumer rights violations, summoning them for a hearing on January 2023. When Beyoncé announced her Renaissance World Tour that would start in the summer, Ticketmaster, still under investigation, was still engaged in artificially raising prices and slapping on nonsense “service fees.” Some might chalk up the commotion as the star power of Beyoncé and Swift, but in reality, Ticketmaster is scamming people. And we had had quite enough of it.
What makes all of this more egregious is that Ticketmaster, after the Swift scandal, pretended they were trying to do better. For the Renaissance Tour as well as the upcoming Bruce Springsteen tour, Ticketmaster implemented something called “Verified Fan.” If you even want the chance to buy tickets, you must register for a Ticketmaster account, “verify” yourself with an email and phone number and then, well, that’s it. According to them, they implemented this to ensure scalper bots don’t buy up hundreds of tickets to sell at a higher price later to make money. To reiterate, “Verified Fan” does not guarantee your tickets in the first place. You just get emailed a code, and then you use the code to access the queue to buy tickets.
But as people with codes started to access the sales, they noticed that, as time passed, the prices started to become higher and higher in front of their eyes. Nosebleed tickets went from $60 to $100 to $300 in front of their very eyes. This type of artificial pricing (called “dynamic pricing”) is an absolute con and one of the main things that landed them in hot water with the government. Ticketmaster said they opted out of dynamic pricing for the Renaissance Tour, but it was obviously a lie. And the “Verified Fan” thing didn’t even work, as resellers still ended up buying tickets and selling them for several more thousands.
Ticketmaster has also been accused of having a monopoly, and that is because it is the only place to buy tickets for a lot of influential artists. The Senate has charged Ticketmaster with hindering its competitors from becoming the only event ticket seller, which you cannot do. They also have unacceptable “service” fees, which are fees that they tack on just because. The fees are at least $100, and many end up buying tickets for more than they expected to pay.
Hopefully, Ticketmaster cleans up their act. Many had pointed out that people only put up with them because they have nowhere else to access tickets. However, the last few months have certainly sent a shockwave, as the Senate tweeted Ticketmaster shortly after Beyoncé’s tour announcement, “we’re watching.”