Taylor Swift blasted into the headlines last week, but not for the reason you’d think.
The singer ripped Ticketmaster for a debacle over the sale of concert tickets for her new tour, which completely crashed at one point and led to scalpers posting tickets for upwards of $50,000.
The whole thing was a fustercluck. First, fans had to sign up for Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program just for a chance to score tickets. But even those fans hit error messages and long waits. Then, when they were finally able to buy tickets, the system wouldn’t accept their presale code or credit card information.
Eventually, Ticketmaster was forced to cancel the sale, claiming it had experienced “historically unprecedented demand.”
“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,” Swift said in a social media post.
Buying tickets nowadays to concerts or sporting event borders on the criminal. Ticketmaster and Live Nation own many of the venues and have the exclusive right for ticket sales. Me, I think they also cash in via the secondhand market for tickets, like StubHub and SeatGeek, where tickets with a face value of $35 often sell for hundreds, even thousands of dollars (but there’s no evidence of that).
I feel sad for the young people of today. Going to catch a National Football League game for a family of four costs at least a thousand dollars (and that’s just for decent seats, not front row on the 50-yard line). And catching your favorite band often costs a couple hundred dollars — assuming you don’t get the tickets the minute they go on sale (a rare accomplishment these days).
Back in my day, tickets costs next to nothing. I saw The Rolling Stones back in 1975, shortly after they released their now classic album, “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll.” The ticket cost $9.50. Sure, that’s $51.01 in today’s dollars, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but it ain’t hundreds of thousands.
When I caught the Stones in Philly last year (they didn’t play D.C. and I’ve seen them in the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and 10s so I needed a 20s show), I paid more than $600 for after-market tickets (and again, just for decent seats). And don’t get me started on the endless fees (a service fee, facility charge, order processing fee, and that absurdly named “convenience” fee), which sometimes cost as much as the ticket.
Let’s take the upcoming Rod Wave concert at the Capital One Center in D.C. Tickets in a nosebleed section about as far away as you can be from the stage run $158.75, so that’s $317.50 for a pair. But then this:
Service Fee: $24.10 x 2 = $48.20
Facility Charge: $4.00 x 2 = $8.00
Order Processing Fee = $6.00
Total, $379.70. Want to actually see him? A pair of seats down on the floor (not front row, mind you) will cost you nearly $840.
Finally, someone’s going do something about this mess (watch this video for more insight).
“The Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into the owner of Ticketmaster, whose sale of Taylor Swift concert tickets descended into chaos this week, said two people with knowledge of the matter,” The New York Times reported over the weekend. “The investigation is focused on whether Live Nation Entertainment has abused its power over the multibillion-dollar live music industry.”
“That power has been in the spotlight after Ticketmaster’s systems crashed while Ms. Swift fans were trying to buy tickets in a presale for her tour, but the investigation predates the botched sale, the people said,” the Times said.
Live Nation defended itself in a statement.
“The concert promotion business is highly competitive, with artist management in control of selecting their promoting team. The demand for live entertainment continues to grow, and there are more promoters than ever working with artists to help them connect with fans through live shows. The Department of Justice itself recognized the competitive nature of the concert promotion business at the time of the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger. That dynamic has not changed,” Live Nation said.
Back in my day, if you wanted tickets, you had to go to the ticket seller and buy them. That seemed to work. And some bands have figured out ways to sell tickets to their fans at a reasonable price (in their heyday, Fall Out Boy played the small 930 Club venue in D.C. and concertgoers had to present ID and the credit card they used to get the tickets, but then had to go straight in, thus no resale of tickets at all).
Let’s hope the DOJ actually follows through on its probe, but most likely, nothing will happen. And that’s just sad.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.