Ticketmaster has cancelled 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 began the first of several tiers of “presales” for fans through Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan programme, which is designed to weed out bots and speculators in favour of customers that are determined to most likely be actual fans.
Millions of fans were locked out. In a blog post published by Ticketmaster on Thursday, the company said that 3.5 million people registered for the Verified Fan programme, 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.
Ticketmaster said it received 3.5 billion system requests that day, four times its previous peak. Two million tickets were sold on Tuesday alone.
Fans were also frustrated by tickets being resold at huge markups. According to Ticketmaster, its Verified Fan programme usually reduces the number of tickets being resold.
The news of Friday’s ticket cancellation only further frustrated Swift’s fans who complained of technical difficulties, hours-long wait times and failures to secure tickets during the Verified Fan presale.
That programme required fans to pre-register with Ticketmaster, selecting their preferred tour date and location and providing personal information, including mobile phone numbers.
Finger-pointing over the problems at Ticketmaster started quickly.
Speaking on the CNBC program Squawk On The Street earlier on Thursday, Mr Greg Maffei, chair 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,” Mr 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.”