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Ticketmaster cancels public sale of Taylor Swift tour, citing high demand for tickets

A sometimes-heartbreaking presale rush for tickets frustrated many fans.
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Ticketmaster said Thursday it had canceled the public sale of tickets to Taylor Swift's "The Eras" tour.

"Due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand, tomorrow’s public on-sale for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour has been cancelled," Ticketmaster tweeted.

A sometimes-heartbreaking presale rush for tickets frustrated many fans. Those seeking tickets were subjected to hourslong waits and a website that sometimes crashed, sending them back to the beginning of a virtual queue with thousands ahead of them.

Swift recently added 17 dates to the U.S. tour, which kicks off in March in Arizona and ends in August in Los Angeles. The tour will consist of 52 concerts.

Representatives for Swift didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a full statement, Ticketmaster said the presale broke site records and acknowledged that it hadn't offered the smooth ticket-buying experience it hoped for.

"The biggest venues and artists turn to us because we have the leading ticketing technology in the world — that doesn’t mean it’s perfect, and clearly for Taylor’s on sale it wasn’t. But we’re always working to improve the ticket buying experience," the statement said.

Ticketmaster said more than 3.5 million people pre-registered for the Taylor’s Verified Fan sale, the largest in its history. Typically, it said, 40% of fans invited to purchase tickets actually do so, and they buy an average of three tickets.

That meant 1.5 million fans were invited to buy tickets, while the remaining 2 million were waitlisted.

The company said that the Verified Fan process usually restricts the number of people coming to buy tickets but that it didn't work as intended this time.

"The staggering number of bot attacks as well as fans who didn’t have invite codes drove unprecedented traffic on our site, resulting in 3.5 billion total system requests — 4x our previous peak," Ticketmaster said.

It said the hourslong waits fan experienced were due to the site's slowing sales to stabilize itself.

Ticketmaster said that even if a ticket sale goes perfectly, fans still tend to leave empty-handed. It said that "based on the volume of traffic to our site, Taylor would need to perform over 900 stadium shows (almost 20x the number of shows she is doing) … that’s a stadium show every single night for the next 2.5 years."

Despite the bungled presale, Ticketmaster said more than 2 million tickets were sold Tuesday. It said that was the most tickets ever sold in a single day for an artist.

Fans expressed their dismay on social media upon learning the public sale had been canceled.

"i’m going to actually jump infront of traffic," a person tweeted.

Another wrote: "will it be rescheduled??? what’s happening? more information would be great lol"

"how could you sell out all the tickets in presale when only 15% was supposed to be released," a person asked.

Some have noted exorbitant resale prices on tickets that were snagged during the presale, some of them in the tens of thousands of dollars. The resale prices and the issues with Ticketmaster have led to growing scrutiny of Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation Entertainment.

In a letter to Michael Rapino, the president and CEO of Live Nation Entertainment Inc., lawmakers expressed “serious concerns about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its harmful impact on consumers.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who is the chair of a subcommittee on antitrust issues, wrote that Ticketmaster isn't subjected to competition, which means it isn't forced to innovate or create a better service.

In the letter, Klobuchar asked Rapino to answer a string of questions, including how much the company has spent to upgrade technology to handle surges in demand and what percentage of high-profile tour tickets are reserved for presales.

The chaotic ticket rollout also caught the eye of Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, who said he would investigate Ticketmaster. 

“If it’s a consumer protection violation and we can find exactly where the problems are, we can get a court order that makes the company do better," Skrmetti said at a news conference Wednesday.