The Downfall of Ticketmaster


Sophia Elizondo-Bean (she/her), Staff Writer

Entertainment company and widely hated monopoly Ticketmaster was founded in 1976 by Peter Gadwa, Gordon Gunn III, and Albert Leffler. The company has since merged with Live Nation to form Live Nation Entertainment. Yet, the ticket site has recently been on people’s hate-list, as shutdowns within the app have occurred more and more. 


“The screen turned white and it said error,” said Berkeley Woodbury, and millions of other concertgoers this November. Music lovers have frequently been stunted by Ticketmaster’s platform from the swarming of bots, to crashing queues. But that frustration didn’t compare to the experience of 14 million Taylor Swift fans who tried to buy tickets to The Eras Tour.


The Ticketmaster Verified Fan program was made to control the number of fans who had access to presale and prevent bots from buying and reselling tickets. But the system was not nearly as effective as Swift’s team had been told. Verified fans had a 5% chance of purchasing tickets. This is due to the overflow of presale codes that lead to 14 million people trying to buy 2.4 million tickets. The fact is, Ticketmaster sent out such a large number of presale codes that a smooth buying process was nearly impossible. “They have a monopoly on the ticket-buying industry, they should know what they’re doing,” said Rian Elkin, a Taylor Swift fan and student at Ida B Wells.


Fans were frustrated that Ticketmaster could not handle the demand after personally sending out presale codes to each of them. Presale codes were not required until check out which allowed those without presale codes to clog up the queue with no chance of getting tickets. “It should’ve been more organized,” said Mandy Jessing, a junior at Ida B. Wells. 


Not only did Verified Fan fail at containing the chaos but it did not prevent scalpers from reselling tickets for up to $40,000. While The Eras Tour has currently blocked resale on the Ticketmaster website, in the past the company has allowed resellers to mark up tickets by thousands of dollars rather than maintaining face value pricing. “They’re doing nothing except taking away experiences from fans,” said Woodbury.

An abundance of presale codes was not the only avoidable mishap of this tour sale. During the Capitol One presale, an opportunity to buy tickets specifically for Capitol One card holders, many fans had their cards denied due to fraud alerts. “I got four lower bowl tickets and it would not accept my card,” said Elkin. The corporation partnered with Ticketmaster to do a presale, knowing fans would make large purchases, and failed to prevent the charges from appearing as scams. 


All fans agreed that it was not what they expected from a big company. Many suggested sending out fewer presale codes and requiring them to be entered when they’re let into the queue rather than at check out. This would limit unnecessary traffic on the website and prevent buyers from being disconnected. Fans also hoped Swift would cancel tickets that are on resale sites like Ed Sheeran did for his tour in 2017.


While the historic Taylor Swift presale may have catalyzed Ticketmaster’s demise, an anti-trust investigation of the company began before the great war of Verified Fan codes. The ultimate question was whether Ticketmaster has too much power in the music industry.


Anti-trust laws help protect consumers by maintaining competition between companies and keeping prices low and quality high. The reality is, no ticketing platform should hold all of the power in the music industry. Venues and artists should be able to use other companies without facing extreme consequences. 

Live Nation Entertainment has been monitored by federal agencies since the merger was approved by the Department of Justice in 2010. In order for the deal to be approved both companies needed to agree not to force venues to use their ticketing platform. 


In 2019, the Department of Justice got involved once again after the agreement was violated. Until 2025, the company will have an independent compliance monitor to ensure that Live Nation Entertainment adheres to the agreement. 


Many artists and venues are forced to use the platform because contracts with Live Nation prevent them from using ticketing sites other than Ticketmaster. Meanwhile, fans are kicked out of four-hour queues when the only other option is to resale tickets that have the same price tag as a car. 


The investigation of Live Nation Entertainment will hopefully bring light to their overwhelming control and prevent venues and concertgoers from being taken advantage of. As of this morning, Ticketmaster has sent out emails to those with a Verified Fan boost from purchasing merch with the opportunity to request two tickets. This will be a start to making up for the concert ticket crisis.  


Fans without a boost are wondering if they’ll be able to safely secure resale tickets. “If you’re willing to spend thousands of dollars, I’d say your chance is pretty high,” said Elkin.