Ticketmaster apologizes to Taylor Swift and her fans for sales debacle

Ticketmaster has officially apologized to Taylor Swift and her fans for the ticketing situation that has left millions frustrated and enraged this week. The company’s apology came in a statement released Friday evening, about half a day after Swift expressed her anger over the fiasco in a fiery post, describing herself as “pissed off” by an “excruciating” situation and seeming blame for the headline problems at Ticketmaster’s feet.

In its statement on Friday evening, the company wrote: “We strive to make buying tickets as easy as possible for fans, but that hasn’t been the case for many people trying to buy tickets for Taylor Swift ‘The Eras’ Tour First of all, we want to apologize to Taylor and all of her fans, especially those who had a terrible experience trying to buy tickets.

Much of the lengthy statement linked to a tweet sent by Ticketmaster around 11 p.m. ET on Friday was identical to one the company posted and then deleted on Thursday — but now with a newly tagged apology at the start. The day before’s version of the since-revised “explanation” did not include any apologetic language, angering many fans before it was removed from Ticketmaster’s website.

Even now, the statement focuses on statistics indicating that demand for tickets was unpredictable and presents the on-sale as a success and a record, pointing out that, although there were problems, “2 million tickets have sold out on Ticketmaster… on November 15 – the most tickets ever sold for an artist in a single day.

That Ticketmaster would have to alter its previous defensive stance to include an apology was inevitable after Swift expressed her displeasure with the company on Friday morning. In a statement on her Instagram Stories, Swift wrote, “I brought so many elements of my career internally. I did this SPECIFICALLY to improve the quality of the experience for my fans by doing it myself with my team who care about my fans as much as I do. It’s really hard for me to trust an outside entity with those relationships and loyalties, and it’s excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen without recourse.

Although Swift didn’t name Ticketmaster in her statement, she did refer to a “them” that left no doubt who she was referring to. “There are a multitude of reasons why people have had such a hard time getting tickets and I’m trying to figure out how this can be improved in the future,” she wrote. “I’m not going to excuse anyone because we’ve asked them many times if they can handle this kind of request and we’ve been assured they can. It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that so many of them feel like they’ve suffered multiple bear attacks to get them.

In the amended statement released Friday evening, Ticketmaster was still very much on the positive, arguing that the Verified Fan program, which adds extra steps to queuing for tickets, had been particularly successful in preventing tickets from going to resellers. “Less than 5% of tour tickets were sold or offered for sale in the secondary market,” the company noted. “Online sales that don’t use Verified Fan typically see 20-30% of inventory ending up in secondary markets.”

Ticketmaster’s statement, titled “Taylor Swift The Eras Tour Onsale Explained”, can be read in full here. (The previous version without the apology to Swift can still be seen in a Music Business Worldwide story here.)

In a repeat of its earlier language, Ticketmaster suggested their ticket rollout wasn’t “perfect,” without going too far towards guilt. “The biggest venues and artists turn to us because we have the best ticketing technology in the world – that doesn’t mean it’s perfect, and clearly for Taylor Swift’s ‘The Eras Tour’ sale, it wasn’t. But we’re still working to improve the ticket buying experience. Especially for high-demand sales, which continue to test new limits. We’re working to strengthen our technology for the new bar which was set on demand for the Taylor Swift ‘The Eras’ Tour. Once we get through this, if there are any next steps, updates will be shared accordingly.

The company announced earlier in the week that the general public sale for Swift’s tour was canceled altogether because there was so little inventory left after Verified Fan and Capital One cardholder pre-sales sold out the large majority of tickets available for the 52 United States. stadium shows that the singer has scheduled for next summer.

Ticketmaster also maintained that it would be impossible to meet the demand for Swift tickets. “Based on the volume of traffic to our site, Taylor would need to perform over 900 stadium shows (nearly 20 times the number of shows she does),” the company wrote in its statement. “It’s a stadium show every night for the next 2.5 years.” The company didn’t say exactly what kind of site traffic it was measuring to come to the conclusion that Swift would need to sell nearly a thousand successive stadium shows to meet US demand.

Friday night was exceptionally busy for Ticketmaster and Live Nation on the PR front. The two related companies (Live Nation in Ticketmaster’s parent company) were almost simultaneously releasing statements defending themselves amid heated controversies that reached boiling point this week, although Ticketmaster was able to belatedly apologize for Swift’s mess.

Live Nation’s utterly unapologetic late-night statement was in response to reports that the Justice Department was looking into antitrust issues with the companies, and came after a resulting drop in Live Nation shares of nearly 8% in trading on Friday before closing at $66.21.

In its own separate statement, defending Ticketmaster’s policies and practices, Live Nation wrote that there was nothing untoward in the company’s massive dominance, saying that “Ticketmaster has a significant share of the core services market ticketing system due to the large gap between the quality of the Ticketmaster system and the second best leading ticketing system. The market is nonetheless becoming increasingly competitive with rivals aggressively bidding on venues. The fact that Ticketmaster continues to being the leader in such an environment is a testament to the platform and those who operate it, not anti-competitive business practices.… We innovate and invest in our technology more than any other ticketing company, and we will continue to do so .

Although complaints have been received about Ticketmaster aggressively embarking on hosting resale tickets on its own site, Live Nation wrote: “Secondary ticketing is extremely competitive, with Ticketmaster competing with StubHub, SeatGeek, Vivid and many more. No serious argument can be made that Ticketmaster has the kind of position in the secondary ticketing market that supports the antitrust allegations.

Live Nation expressed perhaps surprising agreement with an idea often brought up by disgruntled fans, namely that the many additional fees associated with each ticket sale should be combined into a single price that consumers see. Live Nation “strongly advocates all-inclusive pricing so fans are not surprised by the actual cost of tickets,” it said in the statement.

It remains to be seen whether Live Nation shares will turn bullish next week or continue to be subject to — as Taylor Swift might put it — “bear attacks.”

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