Ticketmaster has canceled its planned public sale of tickets to Taylor Swift’s latest tour after a whirlwind few days that demonstrated not only Swift’s extraordinary fan following but the limitations of music’s dominant ticketing system.
“Due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand,” Ticketmaster announced on Thursday, “tomorrow’s public on-sale for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour has been cancelled.”
The public sale, planned for Friday, was for any tickets left over from the week’s presales. Ticketmaster gave no indication of whether any more ticket inventory was left to sell. A representative of Swift did not respond to a request for comment.
The chaos began on Tuesday, when Swift’s tour — her first in five years — began the first of several tiers of “presales” for fans through Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program, which is designed to weed out bots and speculators in favor of customers that are determined to most likely be actual fans.
Millions of fans were locked out. In a later deleted blog post published by Ticketmaster on Thursday, the company said that 3.5 million people registered for the Verified Fan program, and around 1.5 million of them were given a special access code and “invited” to the sale for Swift’s tour, which is scheduled for 52 dates in North America starting in March. The remaining two million verified fans were put on a waiting list.
Ticketmaster said it received 3.5 billion system requests that day, four times its previous peak. Two million tickets were sold on Tuesday alone.
The Cultural Impact of Taylor Swift’s Music
“Never before has a Verified Fan on sale sparked so much attention — or uninvited volume,” the company said.
Fans were also frustrated by tickets being resold on sites like StubHub at markups of up to tens of thousands of dollars. According to Ticketmaster, its Verified Fan program usually reduces the number of tickets being resold.
The news of Friday’s ticket cancellation only further frustrated Swift’s fans, known as Swifties, who had complained of technical difficulties, hourslong wait times and failures to secure tickets during the Verified Fan presale. That program required fans to preregister with Ticketmaster, selecting their preferred tour date and location and providing personal information including cellphone numbers.
Bonnie Gross, a production coordinator from New York City, waited over six hours struggling with the Ticketmaster website. When she finally got the chance to purchase tickets, inventory was scarce.
“I get to page where I can buy tickets and there are no seats available. There is one seat available,” Gross, 28, said. “It was a single seat alone, all the way like at the edge of the stadium for like 200 something dollars. And I was like, ‘I’m not going to go alone, you know?’”
Multiple Swift fans said they rearranged their schedules to accommodate the sale on Tuesday morning, including taking the day off work, rescheduling a meeting and a high school student who skipped school with her mother’s permission.
Swift, one of the most renowned songwriters and hitmakers of her generation, has also been a meticulous manager of her brand and an unparalleled marketer on a mass scale. During a recent period of productivity, which has included five album releases in just over two years, she has expanded her merchandise operation to include everything from picture frames and sticky notes to cassette tapes and vinyl LPs in various limited-edition colors.
“Midnights,” Swift’s 10th studio LP, was released last month, shocking the industry by selling the equivalent of 1,578,000 copies in the United States — the largest total for any album in seven years. In a Billboard first, songs from “Midnights” occupied the entire Top 10 on the singles chart.
The album, a return to a mainstream pop sound for Swift, followed her pair of surprise pandemic albums, “Folklore” and “Evermore,” which tried on a quieter, indie-folk style. “Folklore” won album of the year at the Grammys in 2021, and was followed by “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” and “Red (Taylor’s Version),” the first two rerecordings of her early albums, a side project Swift undertook to regain control of her recordings after her former record label was sold without her participation.
Swift’s flood of new material in recent years, her return to the road after a long absence and her decision to present her tour as what she called “a journey through all of my musical eras of my career,” all contributed to the extraordinary ticket demand.
Finger-pointing over the problems at Ticketmaster started quickly.
Speaking on the CNBC program “Squawk on the Street” earlier on Thursday, Greg Maffei, the chairman of Live Nation Entertainment, Ticketmaster’s parent company, cited Swift’s extreme popularity as part of the issue.
“It’s a function of Taylor Swift,” Maffei said. “The site was supposed to open up for 1.5 million verified Taylor Swift fans. We had 14 million people hit the site, including bots, which are not supposed to be there.”
The ticketing drama this week reignited calls from some lawmakers, who questioned whether the 2010 merger of two powerful events companies — Ticketmaster and Live Nation, which dominates the touring industry as a promoter and venue owner — created a monopoly that harms customers.
The merger “should never have been approved,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, tweeted on Tuesday. “Break them up.”
Representative David N. Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island, added: “It’s no secret that Live Nation-Ticketmaster is an unchecked monopoly.”
Joe Coscarelli contributed reporting.