A group of Taylor Swift fans have filed a lawsuit against Ticketmaster over the recent Eras Tour ticketing fiasco, Deadline reports and pitchfork can confirm. The complaint (viewed by Pitchfork), details the ticketing giant’s bungled ticket sale for Swift’s 2023 stadium trek. Ticketmaster had to cancel the public on-sale date for the tour “due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand,” as the company wrote at the time. The Plaintiffs are suing Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation for “fraud, price-fixing, and antitrust violations,” alleging that “intentional deception” allowed scalpers to buy the majority of tickets.
Tickets for the Eras Tour went on sale on Tuesday, November 15, through Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program. The program requires potential concertgoers to sign up ahead of time and rank their preferred cities and dates for attendance. This model is designed to reduce the bots who frequently swoop in for tickets before actual fans can purchase them. Ticketmaster claimed that over 3.5 million people registered as Verified Fans, and over 2 million tickets were sold on November 15, with a total of 3.5 billion system requests—four times the site’s previous high. Their website was overwhelmed with traffic and attacked by a “staggering number” of bots as well as fans who did not have invite codes.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, states that “millions of fans waited up to eight hours and were unable to purchase tickets as a result of insufficient ticket releases and other issues similar to the prior presale.” It also claims that Ticketmaster wasn’t prepared for the surge of customers.
In addition to Ticketmaster and Live Nation, the complaint names L.A. County—where Live Nation is located—as a Defendant, and repeatedly refers to the November 15 ticketing fiasco as a “disaster.” Plaintiffs are asking the court to fine Live Nation $2,500 per violation of fraud, price-fixing, and antitrust.
The suit outlines Ticketmaster’s monopoly in the concert industry, stating that “because no other venue can hold half as many people as the stadiums and venues working through Ticketmaster, Taylor Swift and other popular musicians have no choice but to work through Ticketmaster.”
The complaint continues: “Because artists like Taylor Swift have to go through Ticketmaster, their fans do as well. This means virtually all major music concert ticket sales in California and the United States go through Ticketmaster’s Primary Ticket Platform.”
Plaintiffs also alleged that Ticketmaster “allows scalpers to buy up tickets over buyers who actually plan to attend the performances,” and that the company “has stated that it has taken steps to address this issue, but in reality, has taken steps to make additional profit from the scalped tickets.” “Ticketmaster allowed bots and scalpers to remove tickets from a fan’s basket without being allowed adequate time to complete the sale,” Plaintiffs added.
Another bot-related grievance alleged that Ticketmaster “allowed ADA-compliant seats to be sold without verification of disability or need, thus depriving individuals with disabilities access [to] ADA compliant seats.”
Following the ticket sale cancellation, Taylor Swift issued a statement on the matter. “There are a multitude of reasons why people had such a hard time trying to get tickets and I’m trying to figure out how this situation can be improved moving forward,” she wrote, adding: “I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand we were assured they could. 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.”
Ticketmaster followed with their own statement on Twitter: “We want to apologize to Taylor and all of her fans—especially those who had a terrible experience trying to purchase tickets,” the company wrote. “We feel we owe it to everyone to share some information to help explain what happened.” Ticketmaster also shared a link leading to a page titled “Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour On-Sale Explained.” The page offers a breakdown of issues that led to the on-sale cancellation.
Days later, the United States Department of Justice opened an antitrust investigation into Live Nation Entertainment. The investigation, according to The New York Times’ original report, “is focused on whether Live Nation Entertainment has abused its power over the multibillion-dollar live music industry.” The decision to open the investigation, however, was reportedly made before the Eras Tour dilemma.
The incident did catch the eyes of U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mike Lee, who are leading a new subcommittee investigating the lack of competition in ticketing markets. Klobuchar pointed to the need to scrutinize Ticketmaster’s dominance over the concert ticket market. “Ticketmaster’s website failed hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to purchase concert tickets,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “The high fees, site disruptions, and cancellations that customers experienced shows how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company does not face any pressure to continually innovate and improve.”