Why bots make it nearly impossible to get affordable tickets to the Taylor Swift RED Tour

11 Dec

This is the story that makes me “RED” when it comes to one of my favorite performers – Taylor Swift. And I’m not alone. Thousands of Taylor’s fans are finding out what happens when scalpers use computer bots to snatch up the majority of tickets to her big arena shows and then resell them minutes later for an obscene amount of money on sites like StubHub.

Taylor is embarking on a tour that will take her to at least 45 cities in 29 states. But thousands of her fans in all of those cities will be disappointed to find out that, even if they sign up for her fan club to secure a link and special code to get pre-sale tickets, then log onto their computers at the precise moment tickets go on sale, they’re still probably going to get crappy seats. I know because I am one of them.

I signed up for Taylor Nation – Taylor’s fan club – last year after I tried to score seats to her show in Greensboro, NC, at the precise moment they went on sale. Despite being logged into Ticketmaster and refreshing my browser at the exact moment tickets became available, I still wound up with $100 tickets that were literally in the last row in the nosebleed section at the Greensboro Coliseum.

When I saw Taylor in 2011, we were able to move down to a closed off section to get closer to the stage. We were only able to get $100 seats in the back row of the nosebleed section, despite logging online to buy tickets the instant they want on sale.

I decided that next time I would be on top of my game. So I joined the fan club and waited for my exclusive fan club access to tickets.

On Monday, Taylor’s fan club emailed me the presale link/code for her upcoming show at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. Today, at precisely 10 a.m. when tickets went on sale, I clicked on the link in two separate browsers and searched for two “best available” seats. Moments later, I had two choices. Pay $99 to sit in row nosebleed section (no thank you) or pay $99 to sit on the complete opposite end of the stage in one of the lower levels (the lesser of two evils, I decided). I just tried searching again, a few moments ago, and there are now no tickets available. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday.

But if you go to StubHub.com, there are currently 1,970 tickets available, ranging in price from (BRACE YOURSELF) $169-$999 EACH.

Taylor puts on an incredible arena show. On the Speak Now tour, she rode in a gazebo-like structure (seen here under the spot light) across the entire floor and performed songs on an island at the back of the arena to give fans with mediocre seats an up-close view.

This problem isn’t unique to Taylor’s tour. Ticketmaster has blogged about the problem of bots snagging up all the tickets before. And if you Google the issue, you’ll find plenty of other performers who have faced the same problems, even the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen. There’s even an entire thread about it on the forum on Taylor Swift’s website.

But here’s why I’m especially sore about Taylor fans having to endure this. When the PNC Arena put out a press release announcing the stop on Taylor’s tour, it included a paragraph touting that Taylor herself wanted there to be tickets available at under $50:

“The RED Tour will be produced and promoted by The Messina Group (TMG). At Taylor’s request every show will include tickets priced at under $50. TMG is a partner of AEG Live, one of the top live entertainment companies in the world, which produces world tours featuring internationally renowned artists and regional concerts and festivals.”

So this leads me to wonder, does Taylor actually know what’s happening in the ticket market? Is she aware that her fans, many of whom are young and rely on their hard-working parents to buy them tickets, can’t even secure tickets? Does Taylor herself know that right now, tickets for her tour stops around the country are being bought by scalpers and resold at prices that make it next to impossible for her average fan to ever see her on stage?

I love Taylor. She’s an incredibly talented writer and performer. I just wish Ticketmaster would fix its system so that affordable tickets could get into the hands of real fans and not scalpers.

Certainly Taylor’s handlers know about this. Certainly her online community manager knows this, since fans are lamenting this on a forum on Taylor’s official website. So surely Taylor must know this, right? And if she does, then why does she even bother requesting that every show offer tickets under $50. It seems disingenuous. Instead, maybe she should help fight the system.

Yes, we know “everyone hates Ticketmaster and no one can take it down” because its system is oh so reliable. But perhaps if artists like Swift and Springsteen, for example, pooled their clout together, they could get Ticketmaster to employ the best engineers and developers in the world to help thwart the bots. If one of Ticketmaster’s biggest problems is that its “notoriously slow to innovate,” than artists like Swift, Springsteen and beyond owe it to their fans to flex their muscles to make it happen.

Because, I’m pretty sure when Taylor started writing music, she never wanted her fans to have to pay $999 to see her perform.

3 Responses to “Why bots make it nearly impossible to get affordable tickets to the Taylor Swift RED Tour”

  1. Diana Siebels December 12, 2012 at 6:39 am #

    This makes me feel sooo old!! Back in the days when I still attended concerts, we went to Ticketmaster at our local Sears store, stood in a small line and paid cash for our tickets. I think we paid $20.00 to see Alice Cooper on my 16th birthday!! Things sure have changed.

  2. Courtney B. December 12, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    I hate this, too! Artists need to just stop using the Ticketmaster system all together and go back to offering presales and fansales by standing in line at a box office or box office outlet. It wasn’t that long ago that you actually had to buy stuff like concert tickets in person (aka the good ol’ days). There are other sellers out there with far less problems, such as etix. The worst is when you end up going to a cleverly marketed shamsite to purchase tickets for an event accidentally and you pay an awful price for an awful seat and you actually think you are getting good ones. This happened to my husband a while ago when he was buying me tickets for a musical at the DPAC. It totally ruined the thoughtful gift he thought he was giving. Technology is awesome and yet, it can ruin things completely. I suggest tweeting Taylor and other artists you like about it. It’s pretty much the only way a fan can get through to an artist these days.

  3. Angela Connor December 14, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    Hey Ginny: I too am a victim of this. I wanted to get these tickets for my 12-year-old for Christmas. I planned to put them in a big box under the tree with a poster of Taylor and the RED CD. She is the ultimate fan.
    I was ready at 10am. I knew there would be a rush but I was completely stunned at what happened. Then, a co-worker told me to go to Stubhub and I see the prices are super high and I wonder how the hell they got them all.
    I was just venting about this to Jay and he told me you wrote a blog about it. I am pissed. This is out of control. I’ve watched shows about Taylor with my daughters and she seems like she would be completely against this. But her handlers absolutely know this. I am DONE!

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