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

Editor’s Notes: Amy Bass (@bassab1) is a professor of physical education at Manhattanville College and the author of “One Purpose: A Coach, a Team, and the Game That Brought a Divided Town Together” and “Not Winning But Struggling: The 1968 Olympics and the Making of the Pill. The Black Athlete,” among other positions. The opinions expressed here are his own. Read more opinions on CNN.


In the middle of the Taylor Swift ticket mania that has dominated my life – and the lives of millions of others – for the past week or so, I still think about how my mother, when I was only 15 years old, lied to get me. in a Ramones show at a stadium in Albany, New York, many years ago.

Amy Bass

He drove my girlfriend and I to the show with the intention of reading a good book in the parking lot, but ended up joining us when we were stopped at the door for being underage and without ID. When we entered the house, a gunman looked at us and told my mother, “You can go back there and hang out – I’ll keep an eye on them.”

While I remember everything from that great show, maybe especially the moment Joey Ramone gave me a guitar pick, what matters most to me now is the strong parenting example my mother set.

Now, with more years ahead than I care to admit, I’m the mother of a 15-year-old concert-goer, navigating the world of tickets, transportation, and “marketing,” advising on how to work hard. -earned money to raise children. I’m lucky I’m not alone in this, as my best friend, who I’ve seen more shows with than anyone else, has a girlfriend from high school. The four of us, together, are now concert buddies.

It has been an amazing experience. I loved every minute of watching our girls fight for position in the pit at the Harry Styles show as we watched from the bar (pro tip: there is no line at the Madison Square Garden bar at a Harry Styles concert). Later, we, too, joined the cacophony of feathers and sequins that make up Harry’s House, we are surprised by his connection with his audience and the diversity with the strong community that is his fan.

Indeed, as we joined thousands of voices streaming from the U2 show singing “40” long after the band left the house, our girls are a generation of fans who seem to look out for each other, in a special way. shouts to the girl who entered the MSG bathroom and announced that she was at “Harry’s House” alone with a crowd who immediately shouted, “Stay with us!” – no questions are asked.

Although all this sounds important, nothing is easy, shown by the legions of parents and fans who cannot get tickets to this show, either because of cheap means or limited and unfair opportunities.

When Taylor Swift released “Midnights” on October 21, at midnight, and then presented another version, “Midnights (3am Edition),” three hours later, I knew that school will not be easy for millions of children next. day. Indeed, the midnight album drops — especially when there’s an exam the next day — are our kids’ parties, which makes me hopeful that Swift’s next album might be titled “Saturday Afternoon,” or something to that effect.

When Swift announced the Eras Tour on November 1, a pit of dread grew in my stomach. His first tour since 2018, his career now includes many things he has never played before, with many fans who have never had the chance to see him. My one experience with Ticketmaster’s “guaranteed” system, designed, they say, to keep scalpers out, went awry; I received an email saying I was selected, but I didn’t get the text and code.

My experience with Taylor’s week on Tuesday added to my doubts about the system: Ticketmaster failed twice when trying to get tickets to Louis Tomlinson, a star who has nowhere near the kind of fanbase that rivals the “Swifties.” Every time I dropped the “valid” tickets into my cart – not assigned a seat – it told me another fan had “caught” them and I had to try again. How would that be possible, I wondered, if the tickets were a general admission?

Alas, it didn’t matter: for Taylor Swift, I wrote wait, whatever that means. My sister was put on a waiting list. My grandson was put on a waiting list. But, look, my friend passed by.

“I have the code,” he texted. “I have the code.”

We knew it was going to be tough. Really, really hard. But we’ve been doing this, together, for a long time. Back then, they weren’t internet codes – we slept in front of record stores and in parking lots, getting expensive wristbands to hold our place in line while we waited for the best seats to catch Prince, U2, and Def. Leppard. One day, on a cold morning, my social studies teacher brought donuts for all of us; they were happy when we had the tickets in hand.

Getting tickets today is a very personal experience that revolves around laptops and phones – desktops and made up of waiting rooms and queues, and the so-called pricing system that Ticketmaster uses to adjust ticket prices based on demand. We combed Tik Tok and Twitter for tips and hacks, crediting the posts of those who expressed the stress of being the only member of a group of friends who received a number. We had already set our calendars for Tuesday morning, and we were ready for battle, knowing that the internet site estimated that about 2.8 million Eras tickets would be sold, which gave us a better but less accurate picture of how to get tickets.

“Good – don’t delay and take your time and hurry. I believe in you,” her daughter texted minutes before the auction began.

There is no pressure there. There is no pressure at all.

In short, he found them. Not good seats, not on the night we wanted, and had to deal with “sit tight, we’re protecting your Guaranteed Tickets” countless times before getting a confirmation email in his inbox. But when the news started happening throughout the day, we felt that we were as lucky as the women, especially as the heartbroken fans and their parents started to share their experiences – the tickets were taken from their carts, the website crashes, and the errors that followed. blink on people’s pictures.

“Just finished telling everyone I got tickets to Taylor Swift,” my neighbor — the only other person I know who got tickets — texted me. “I feel like I might get caught in the street.”

While Ticketmaster quelled the initial furore on Tuesday by announcing “unprecedented demand” and thanking fans for their “patience”, people began to ask questions. Why do you offer more codes than tickets? Why create more entry points than capacity?

So when I plan to be in the trenches with my son, trying to support his love of music as my mother did for me, change should be close to the unrestrained authority that sells concert tickets to young people. With “Swifties” are very angry with the star – a leading artist, who has made an impact in the whole industry – on Tik Tok, often the words “I have never heard silence so loud” from Tik Tok. song, “The Story of Us,” some legislators, from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, shouting about the problem.

“Ticketmaster’s power in the primary ticket market prevents it from exerting pressure on companies to innovate and transform their services,” Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, wrote in an open letter to Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation Entertainment ( which manages Ticketmaster). “This could lead to the massive disruption of services we’ve seen this week, with consumers paying the price.”

That price just went up. When Ticketmaster announced the cancellation of the public sale of the Eras Tour on Thursday, saying it was “not enough” after “a large number of bots” during the sale, my heart broke for the thousands of fans who were now left empty-handed, and parents and grandparents and friends who tried so hard to get them there.

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

We have to do better.


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