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Taylor Swift fans at OU can't shake off bad blood with Ticketmaster

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Taylor Swift Eras poster

Taylor Swift's "The Eras" tour poster.

Fans of Taylor Swift now have “Bad Blood” with megacorporation Ticketmaster after being “Haunted” by the website’s presale for The Eras Tour tickets.

Swift announced her highly anticipated stadium tour, The Eras Tour, on Nov. 1, shortly after the release of her 10th studio album, “Midnights.” She is set to take the stage in spring 2023. This marks her first tour since the Reputation Stadium Tour in 2018. 

Ticketmaster held a presale for verified Swift fans at 10 a.m. Nov. 15 for the upcoming tour. In order to get access to this sale, users had to sign up for the Verified Fan program on Ticketmaster, be selected and sent a personal presale code. A handful of stadiums had their tickets sold through SeatGeek due to contracts, but presale codes were still sent out by Ticketmaster for these shows.

A separate presale for Capital One credit card holders, still through Ticketmaster, was to be held later the same day, and general sale was set to take place on Friday, Nov. 18.

However, getting tickets wasn't so swift. “Swifties” all around the U.S. immediately took to social media to express their frustration with Ticketmaster. Buyers experienced major glitches, long wait times and some got kicked off the website at checkout with tickets in their cart. Many simply did not win “The Great War” of getting tickets, despite waiting hours upon hours.

Sophia Fultz, OU criminology senior and a Swift fan since 2008, detailed her experience of unsuccessfully trying to buy tickets for the first presale through SeatGeek.

“SeatGeek didn’t give us a whole lot of information,” Fultz said. "I sat there for six and a half hours. Once I finally got in, the only seats left were nosebleeds. I put two in my cart, then the site glitched and kept loading for an hour. It finally just kicked me out to the back of the line. By the time I got back in, it was sold out.”

Chelsea Friedman, OU marketing freshman, went through a similar situation when trying to purchase tickets through SeatGeek, waiting in line from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to no avail.

“When I was checking out, it buffered, and it buffered for three hours," Friedman said. "By the time it quit buffering, it was sold out."

Due to the troubles, the Capital One presale was moved to the next day, Nov. 16, but the same issues arose. 

“I tried to do the Capital One presale as well, but that also sold out before I could get in,” Fultz said.

On Thursday, Nov. 17, Ticketmaster completely canceled the general sale via Twitter, citing “extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand.” This sparked major outrage among many, especially those unable to get tickets.

“Everyone thought that there (was) 60 percent of the tickets in the stadiums left for the tour for general sale,” Fultz said. “The whole thing is just very, very frustrating. Ticketmaster kind of explained it, but they didn’t actually say it was completely sold out."

Those who did get tickets didn’t get them easily. Abby Branham, OU communications sophomore, spent over 11 hours waiting in line before she secured her tickets.

“It was kind of a nightmare,” Branham said. “I was working at both of my jobs during the sale. At 8 a.m., I went to my first job and set up my laptop in the back. I had to leave for my second job and was still in line, so I had to switch to my phone and keep monitoring it at work. I waited for like 11 hours, then I was finally able to get tickets. The worst part was the fact that we had no answers. I was on Twitter constantly waiting for updates. I was so confused on if it was sold out or not when I was waiting.”

Branham said that the cancellation of the general sale was unfair to fans and has led to toxicity within the fandom.

“People are being very bitter and rude to those who got tickets and (are) trying to gatekeep and say who should and should not be allowed to go,” Branham said.

Ticketmaster has since released a statement on its website, apologizing to Swift and her fans, “especially those who had a terrible experience trying to purchase tickets.” The statement cites the record demand for tickets as the reason its website crashed, as well as a large amount of bot attacks, which resulted in 3.5 billion system requests.

Branham said she was confused as to how Ticketmaster wasn’t prepared for the sale.

“I knew there was a high demand and that it was going to take my whole day,” Branham said. “So, how did Ticketmaster not know that? They could have done things to prevent the issues, but they didn’t.”

Friedman said the most frustrating aspect is that buying Swift tickets through Ticketmaster used to be much easier, with better systems in place and more opportunities for Verified Fan boosts.

“It took only about an hour and a half or two hours to get my tickets for the Reputation tour,” Friedman said. “That presale compared to what’s happening now is unbelievable. I'm mad that they didn’t use that system this time, it worked so well.”

Swift took to Instagram on Friday, Nov. 17, to express her love for her fans and frustration with Ticketmaster. 

“It goes without saying that I’m extremely protective of my fans,” Swift wrote. “It’s really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties, and excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse. ... I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and were assured they could.”

Despite all the drama, Swift sold over two million tickets during the presale, breaking the record for the most tickets sold by an artist in a single day. 

“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 wrote.

On Friday, Nov. 18, The New York Times reported that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened an antitrust investigation into Live Nation Entertainment, the owner of Ticketmaster.

Fultz said the main culprit of the disaster is Ticketmaster and how it has monopolized the ticket market but noted Taylor’s team could have done more as well.

“Ticketmaster can do things like this and get away with it because no one else can compete with them,” Fultz said. “But also, there are systems in place through Ticketmaster that Taylor and her team could have used to prevent this.”

Friedman believes everyone is partially to blame but most of the blame should be put on Ticketmaster and its partnership with Live Nation.

“I do think they should break up … and never, ever get back together,” Friedman said.

It’s unclear if Ticketmaster will ever be “Out Of The Woods,” especially with Swifties. But, in the meantime, it appears there’s nothing else to do but “Shake It Off.”

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