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How Taylor Swift’s New Album “Midnights” has Become a Monopoly Investigation For Ticket Company

If you’re a Swiftie (and even if you’re not), you probably already know all the drama surrounding Taylor Swift’s upcoming “The Eras” tour. The presale for concert tickets was an utter failure on the Ticketmaster site, resulting in angry fans and an ongoing investigation on the monopoly itself. 

After releasing her new album “Midnights,” Swift broke chart records, becoming the first artist to have all top 10 spots on the Billboard Hot 100 list at the same time. She then announced “The Eras” tour from March to August 2023, sending fans into an excited frenzy. Other artists Paramore, Beabadoobee, Phoebe Bridgers, Girl in Red, Muna, Haim, Gayle, Gracie Adams and Owenn will be joining her on tour as well.

On Nov. 15, the presale tickets were released on Ticketmaster. It was a complete disaster with an overwhelming amount of issues and fans were outraged. Some were receiving repetitive error messages forcing them to requeue in the long line. Some tickets that were $49 to $449 were being resold to as high as $28,000. LiveNation’s chairman Greg Maffei said 14 million people tried to get presale tickets on the site with only 1.5 million “verified” spots open. 

“Despite all the challenges and the breakdowns, we did sell over 2 million tickets that day. We could’ve filled 900 stadiums,” said Maffei

On Ticketmaster’s site, they released an official statement. They first apologized to fans for the technical difficulties and then explained how Verified Fan has the purpose to keep out bots and avoid overcrowding for high demand sales. However, on the presale date, they reported 3.5 billion total system requests – four times their previous max. 

Ticketmaster said they were unprepared for the sheer number of users on the site though were still able to sell a record-breaking amount of tickets. Either way, it was physically impossible for everyone on the site to receive tickets. 

Ticketmaster ended up canceling public ticket sales for “The Eras” tour later that week due to not being able to meet demands. From the presale issues to canceling public sales, Swifties were furious. They rallied on social media platforms and to their political representatives to take action against Ticketmaster. 

The ticket sales company is now facing major criticism for its operations of being a monopoly. The event promotion company, Live Nation, partnered with Ticketmaster to form Live Nation Entertainment. The combined group formed a dominating platform to monopolize the ticket sales industry. The site is known for having an expensive fee when buying tickets as well as being subjected to bots buying an abundance of seats to resell at a much higher cost. One trade group, NetChoice, said the government should be able to investigate Ticketmaster with already existing resources and laws.

“Congress and the Federal Trade Commission have wasted their time and taxpayer money trying to radically change antitrust laws and filing meritless lawsuits against companies like Meta, which are operating in highly competitive environments,” said NetChoice Policy Counsel Jennifer Huddleston

Complaints against Ticketmaster for being a monopoly are not new. In 1994, a rock group, Pearl Jam, filed a federal complaint that accused Ticketmaster for being a “virtually absolute monopoly on the distribution of tickets to concerts.” They criticized the Justice Department’s antitrust division for poor regulation though the rock group ultimately lost their lawsuit. 

There were also multiple objections to the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger as it was going through. A 2010 court filing case from the Justice Department stated Ticketmaster’s share amid main concert venues was more than 80%. 

The merger was approved by the department – with a few restrictions. The company was required to sell some of its business and was not allowed to threaten concert venues with losing access to tours if they chose to use other ticketing services other than Ticketmaster. 

In 2019, the Justice Department found this rule had been repeatedly violated. Six concert venues anonymously said on record they were threatened by Ticketmaster. One of the founders of SeatGeek discussed the dominating authority Ticketmaster has in the market. 

“When we sell to teams, we have heard fears about losing concerts if they choose us,” he said.

Recently, politicians like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Amy Klobuchar have been speaking out against the company being a monopoly. Multiple states and the Department of Justice are reported to be conducting antitrust  investigations on Live Nation. It will determine if competition was unfair and if customers were harmed from abuse of power.

Swift herself has put out a statement on her Instagram story after the presale fiasco. 

“It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them,” she said. 

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Faith Chung

American '24

Faith is a sophomore at American University majoring in Communication Studies. She is passionate about writing to spread awareness concerning issues of injustice. Faith is currently a Contributing Writer for HCAU and lives in DC.