Opinion: A concert mom’s take on Taylor Swift and Ticketmaster

Editor’s note: Amy Bass (@bassab1) is professor of sports studies at Manhattanville College and author of “One Goal: The Sport That Brought Together a Coach, a Team, and a Divided City” and “Not Victory, But Struggle: The 1968 Olympics and the Making of the Black Athlete,” among other topics. The opinions expressed here are solely her own. Read more comments on CNN.



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Amidst the Taylor Swift ticket frenzy that has dominated my life—and the lives of millions of others—for the past week or so, I think about how my mother lied to get me when I was just 15 years old. Many years ago to a Ramones show at a theater in Albany, New York.

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She took me and my friend to the show with the intention of reading a good book in the parking lot, but she accompanied us when we stopped at the door, too young and without ID. When we finally got in, a nice bouncer took one look at us and told my mom, “You can go back there and hang out – I’ll keep an eye on them.”

While I remember every detail of that epic show, especially the moment Joey Ramone handed me a guitar pick, what matters more to me now is the heroic example of parenting my mother set.

Now, fast-forward decades more than I’d like to admit, I’m the mom of a 15-year-old concert-goer advising me on how to navigate the world of tickets, transportation, and “merchandise” and how to spend hard. – Won babysitting money. I’m lucky I’m not alone in this endeavor, and my best friend in life is a high school girl of her own who has watched more shows than anyone else. All four of us together are now friends in concerts.

It has been an amazing experience. I loved every second of our girls fighting for pit spot at the Harry Styles show while we watched from the bar (pro tip: there is no line at the bar at Madison Square Garden at a Harry Styles concert). Eventually we joined the cacophony of feather boas and sequins that comprised Harry’s home, marveling at his connection with his audience and the diversity and robust community of his fan base.

In fact, our girls are part of a generation of fans who pay special attention to each other, just as we join the thousands of voices walking out of a U2 concert singing “40” long after the band has left the building. MSG yelled at the young woman who entered the bathroom announcing she was in “Harry’s House” and “Hang with us!” The legions of people who immediately shouted – no questions asked.

It all feels worthwhile, and none of it is made easy by the legions of parents and fans unable to get tickets to these shows because of exorbitant pricing strategies or limited and unfair access.

When Taylor Swift dropped “Midnights” at midnight on Oct. 21 and delivered another version three hours later, “Midnights (3am Edition),” I knew school wasn’t going to be easy for millions of kids next. day. Of course, midnight album drops — especially when there’s a test the next day — are a virtual party for our kids, and I hope Swift’s next album is “Saturday Evening” or something to that effect.

When the Swift Eras Tour was announced on November 1st, I had a nervous feeling in my stomach. Her first tour since 2018, her set now includes a lot of material she’s never played live, with many fans who never actually got a chance to see her. One of my experiences with Ticketmaster’s “verified fan” process, supposedly designed to deter scalpers, turned out to be bad. I got the email saying I was selected, but I never received the text with the code.

My experience the week before Taylor Tuesday only heightened my suspicion of the system: Ticketmaster crashed twice in my attempts to get tickets to star Louis Tomlinson, who has nowhere near a fan base to rival the rival “Swifties.” Every time I threw the “general admission” tickets into my cart – no seat assigned – it told me another fan had “grabbed” them and I needed to try again. How could that be, I wondered, if the tickets were general admission.

Alas, that’s okay: for Taylor Swift, I’m on the waiting list, whatever that means. My sister is waitlisted. My niece is waitlisted. But, here comes my friend.

“I got a code,” she texted. “I got a code.”

We knew it was still going to be tough. Really, really hard. But we have been doing this together for so long. Back then, it wasn’t online codes – we slept in front of record stores and in parking lots, getting precious wristbands to line our spot while hoping for the best seats available for Prince, U2 and Def. Leopard. Once, on a particularly cold morning, my social studies teacher showed up with donuts for all of us. He cheered when we had the tickets in hand.

Ticketing today is a more isolated experience that revolves around laptops and phones — virtual waiting rooms and queues that are computerized and mechanized, and the so-called dynamic pricing system that Ticketmaster uses to adjust ticket prices based on demand. We scoured Tik Tok and Twitter for tips and hacks, admiring posts from those who expressed stress about being the only member of a friend group to get a code. We had already cleared our Tuesday morning calendars and were ready to fight, knowing that an online bookie site estimated that the Eras would sell approximately 2.8 million tickets, which was pretty good for us to get tickets, but Still gave a small shot.

“Good luck – don’t hesitate, but take your time, but be very quick. I trust you,” her daughter texted minutes before the presale.

There is no pressure there. There is no pressure.

In short, she got them. They weren’t good seats, they weren’t on the night we wanted them, and she had to deal with the “sit tight, we’ll secure your verified tickets” message countless times before finally getting an email confirmation to her inbox. But when news broke of what happened throughout the day, we felt as lucky as the moms, especially when heartbroken fans and their parents started sharing their experiences — after the tickets were ripped from their carts, the website crashes and the error code. The error code flashes on people’s screens.

“I’m officially done telling everyone I have tickets to Taylor Swift,” a neighbor — the only other person I know who got tickets — texted me. “I feel like I might drown in the street.”

Ticketmaster shrugged off the initial furor on Tuesday by announcing “unprecedented, historic demand” and thanking fans for their “patience,” and people started asking questions. Why issue codes rather than tickets? Why create more access points than capacity?

So while I plan to stay in the trenches with my child, trying to support her love of music as my mother did for me, change must be on the horizon for the unfettered monopoly that sells concert tickets to teenagers. With “Swifties” increasingly outraged at the star – a generational artist who, in fact, has already had such an impact on the industry as a whole – on Tik Tok, often citing “I’ve never heard silence so loud” in “Our Story”. Song, Rep. Some lawmakers, from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, have been vocal about the issue.

“Ticketmaster’s power in the primary ticket market insulates it from competitive pressures that normally push companies to innovate and improve their services,” Klobuchar, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights, wrote in an open letter. Michael Rapinoe, CEO of Live Nation Entertainment (oversees Ticketmaster). “That can lead to the dramatic service failures we’ve seen this week, where consumers pay the price.”

That price just went up, up. When Ticketmaster announced it was canceling Thursday’s scheduled general sale for the Eras Tour, it broke my heart for the thousands of fans who are now officially empty, citing “insufficient inventory” after “tremendous hits” in the presale. Delivered, parents and grandparents and friends who tried hard to get them there.

I’ve had those days too – coming back home because spending a night in a parking lot just wasn’t enough to get a ticket to the show.

We must do better.



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