The agony and ecstasy of getting last minute face value Taylor Swift tickets | CNN Business
When Julia Thomas woke up at her home in Cleveland last Saturday, she spontaneously decided to drive 15 hours to Taylor Swift’s concert that night in Nashville, picking up her sister in Cincinnati along the way. But they were missing one thing: tickets.
Like so many Swift fans, she he couldn’t get tickets on Ticketmaster when they went on sale last fall, nor could he afford the four figures price indicated for them at resale sites. Halfway through, though, her sister found $350 floor seats after refreshing several Swift-centric Twitter accounts: Ticketmaster had just dropped a handful of last-minute tickets on its website.
“We’ve been really lucky,” he told CNN. “We got to Nashville with an hour to spare before the concert started.”
Thomas is one of the many devoted fans who closely monitor a combination of Twitter accounts dedicated to alerting fans when Ticketmaster launches a new batch of Swifts tickets after the initial sale.
Ticket downloads are not new. These are apparently due to additional seats being added to a venue or tickets being returned. But these drops have become an obsession among Swift’s most devoted fans, who are struggling to find tickets for the artist in the face of Ticketmaster’s wider deception.
Ticketmaster has come under fire for screwing up online sales on the mega-star’s latest tour, in an age where it already completely dominates the live events industry, leaving few, if any, alternatives. In November, a presale code was sent to “Verified Fans,” but when sales began, high demand crashed the website and millions of Swifties were unable to get a ticket. Presale tickets for Capital One cardholders led to similar frustration, and Ticketmaster then canceled sales to the general public, citing “extraordinarily high demand” and “insufficient remaining ticket inventory.” .
In testimony before Congress, Ticketmaster parent company Live Nation President and CFO Joe Berchtold partly blamed the ticketing incident on bots. He too stressed that Ticketmaster does not set ticket prices, does not determine the number of tickets that go on sale, and that “in most cases, venues set service and ticket fees,” not Ticketmaster.
Ticketmaster and Live Nation are Swift is currently facing a nationwide lawsuit from fans alleging “unlawful conduct,” with the plaintiffs alleging the ticketing giant violated antitrust laws, among others. A preliminary hearing was held in March; Ticketmaster has denied the allegations.
Millions of fans still can’t buy tickets. In recent weeks, however, Ticketmaster has been sending out more verified fan codes to people who were originally selected from the presale to purchase from leftover tickets. For those without codes, Ticketmaster also does regular ticket downloads before shows.
It’s not uncommon, however, for thousands of fans to try to get the same tickets at once. Sometimes bots and scalpers buy the seats and repost them on third-party sites like StubHub within minutes.
Ticketmaster did not respond to a request for comment on the ticket download.
But that doesn’t deter Swift’s fans. Some spend hours searching for tickets online and driving long distances to concert halls without a ticket in hand, even at the risk of misfortune.
Molly Ramsey, an 18-year-old fan from Bristol, Tenn., said she recently stumbled upon the Twitter account @erastourticks, which often tweets about Ticketmaster drops. “My family [last weekend] made a bet to drive the 5 hours to Nashville to see if we could get face value tickets,” he said.
After nearly nine hours of refreshing Ticketmaster, he got four tickets right before the show started. “We were sitting outside the stadium while the openers were playing, but as soon as our payment came, it was an out-of-body experience,” he said. “My sister started screaming and dancing.”
In a nod to the success of Swift’s song “Anti-Hero” and the rush to find tickets, the Twitter account, which has about 22,000 followers, recently he tweeted: “It must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero aka @Ticketmaster.”
A similar site, @concertleaks, has been hooking up its 62,000 followers with last-minute Swift tickets. The account was originally created years ago to post concert listings, merch and tickets for various artists, but has also evolved to help connect fans with tickets.
Another The Twitter account called @ErasTourResell, which has 120,000 followers, has gained a lot of work with resellers who want to sell their tickets at face value. The account is run by longtime friends Courtney Johnston, Channette Garay, and Angel Richards. The twenty-something trio aim to make Swift tickets as accessible as possible for fans without overpaying or getting ripped off.
“So far we’ve posted 2,700-3,000 tickets, all at face value,” the trio said in a DM conversation on Twitter. “It’s really, really rewarding to see these tickets go to real fans for their face value when the resale market has crazy prices with people making a profit. It’s also been amazing to meet people who follow the account at the shows, especially if the only reason by which they were able to attend was through our account.”
They spend hours, between work and going to school, going over the daily filings to make sure the entries are real. The group encourages buyers to request video proof of tickets, to pay only through Paypal Goods and Services due to its protection plan, and to never pay more than face value. (They also said they don’t make any money from the process and are only doing it to help fellow Swifties, but they do have a Ko-Fi account where people can donate funds for food or coffee).
“Surprisingly, the verification process has gone very smoothly and smoothly because by now we know what an incomplete screen recording looks like or what a forged or hacked email can look like,” the group said. “It’s about being able to pick up on the super small details: what color an image is supposed to be, what link is clickable, where that link is supposed to take you, what message is supposed to appear at a certain point “.
But getting these tickets is not easy. After posting a ticket alert on their Twitter page, many users say they never hear back from the sellers and it’s unclear how they select a buyer from the hundreds of fans who approach them.
“It’s definitely gotten more difficult with our growing following,” the friends behind @ErasTourResell told CNN. “Some [sellers pick] based on the first direct message and mention, and others are looking for someone with a heartwarming story, so it really varies. Having our notifications turned on helps as we tend to do a little warning and tease before posting most posts.”
Beyond Twitter, many fans are turning to places like Reddit, including R/Taylor Swift’s page, for play-by-play details on Ticketmaster downloads. Some say they’ve seen them multiple times throughout the day, but often about 30 minutes before a show starts. (Tickets have even appeared an hour after the show.) Others suggest using Apple Pay to speed up the checkout process and avoid losing tickets while entering credit card information.
Despite these massive efforts, not all fans find luck online
Katy Blackman, 33, of Birmingham, Alabama, said she spent all day at a Nashville hotel last weekend freshening up the place. Only once did she manage to put a single ticket in her online shopping cart, but it was gone before she could pay.
Still, he headed to Nissan Stadium that night and stood in the parking lot with hundreds of other ticketless fans trying to get in. When the lights went down minutes before Swift took the stage, the crowd dispersed; she was pretty much the only one left, still refreshing Ticketmaster.
“All my searching and combing through Ticketmaster and resale sites was to no avail,” he said. “But then all of a sudden some random girl came running up to me seconds before I came and said, ‘Hey, do you want to come with me?’
The stranger had just gotten last minute tickets and had an extra one to sell. “A miracle happened,” Blackman said. “My new friend and I sang every song. We cried, danced, hugged. It was worth getting there.”