Ticketmaster Blames Bots For Taylor Swift Sales Issues In Senate Hearing

Last year, Taylor Swift made headlines, but not just because of her latest album. When it came time to open ticket sales for her new world tour, The Eras Tour, millions of fans were left disappointed when Ticketmaster crashed during the sale and a subsequent sale date was canceled.

Now, these same fans are suing Ticketmaster, and the Live Nation-owned ticketing giant has been called before the Senate Judiciary Committee. During the first hearing, which took place today, Live Nation president and CFO Joe Berchtold claimed that ticket-buying bots were to blame for the technical issues.

In a statement, Berchtold said, “We knew bots would attack [Swift’s] onsale, and planned accordingly… We were then hit with three times the amount of bot traffic than we had ever experienced…the attack required us to slow down and even pause our sales. This is what led to a terrible consumer experience that we deeply regret.”

Many “Swifties” were either unable to get tickets as they were kicked out of the queue, waited up to eight hours, or faced resale values of $22,000 or more.

Berchtold plans to use the Senate hearing to call for public policy to fight the prevalent use of bots in the ticket-buying process. He also stated, “We are doing everything we can to fight the people who attack our onsales and steal tickets meant for real fans, but we need help passing real reforms to stop this arms race.”

There is already some legislation against bots with the BOTS Act passed in 2016 that outlaws automated ticket-buying technology, but the law has only been enforced twice by the FBI since it became law.

But there seems to be a larger issue at play as SeatGeek has already filed several complaints against Ticketmaster with the Department of Justice for alleged anti-trust violations after the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster in 2010.

Berchtold refutes these claims saying, “Today, there is intense competition for every ticketing contract that goes out to bid — far more than there was in 2010. ”

You can watch the live Senate hearing on Ticketmaster’s business practices here:

Featured image from Taylor Swift, photo credit Dave Hogan

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