More than two dozen Taylor Swift fans are suing Live Nation over Ticketmaster’s botched sale of tickets to her Eras tour last month, accusing the company of “anticompetitive conduct,” fraud and other forms of wrongdoing.
In a complaint filed Friday in Los Angeles court – the first known lawsuit over the fiasco – attorneys for the Swift fans called the sale a “disaster” and pinned the blame on Ticketmaster, which they called a “monopoly that is only interested in taking every dollar it can from a captive public.”
“In markets without a singular, monopolistic company, charging prices and fees like Ticketmaster would be impossible,” lawyers for the fans wrote. “And Ticketmaster does not do anything to justify these higher costs. Ticketmaster’s service is not superior or reliable; the massive disaster of the Taylor Swift presale is evidence enough of this.”
In addition to antitrust violations, the lawsuit accused Ticketmaster of intentionally misleading fans ahead of the sale – both by offering more presale codes than it had tickets to sell, and by allowing bots and scalpers into the sale. And because of the company’s unfair control over the secondary resale market, the Taylor fans say Ticketmaster was “eager to allow this arrangement.”
“Ticketmaster claimed that only those with codes would be able to join the presale, but millions of buyers without codes were able to get tickets,” the accusers wrote in the lawsuit. “Many of those without codes were scalpers, and Ticketmaster benefited from scalped tickets as they must be resold on Ticketmaster, who gets an additional fee.”
The new lawsuit came three weeks after the infamous Nov. 15 presale, which saw widespread service delays and website crashes as millions of fans tried – and many failed – to buy tickets for Swift’s 2023 Eras Tour.
Ticketmaster has apologized to fans and pinned the blame on a “staggering number of bot attacks” and “unprecedented traffic.” But that explanation has seemingly not been enough for many of the company’s critics, who have resurfaced longstanding complaints about the outsized power Ticketmaster and Live Nation have wielded in the market for live music since they merged in 2010.
Lawmakers in both parties on Capitol Hill have called for renewed antitrust scrutiny, and news broke days after the presale that the U.S. Department of Justice had already been investigating Live Nation for potential antitrust violations. Attorneys general in a number of states have also launched their own probes, looking to see whether any state-level consumer protection or antitrust laws were breached.
The new lawsuit echoed those gripes, saying that artists like “have no choice but to work through Ticketmaster” and that “virtually all major music concert ticket sales” are handled by the service. The company then leverages that control to dominate secondary ticket re-sales, the Taylor fans allege, giving the Ticketmaster an incentive to allow bots and scalpers into presales.
“Ticketmaster has stated that it has taken steps to address [scalping], but in reality, has taken steps to make additional profit from the scalped tickets,” lawyers for the Taylor fans wrote. “Ticketmaster forces purchases of tickets from its site to use only Ticketmaster’s Secondary Ticket Exchange for the resale of those tickets. Ticketmaster then gets the higher fees paid by fans who have no choice but to pay for the ‘right’ to use the Ticketmaster Secondary Ticket Exchange platform.”
Whether such claims will be legally successful remains to be seen. Proving that a company violates antitrust laws is no easy task, and linking those supposed violations to actual harm suffered by the spurned Swift fans will be equally difficult.
A rep for Live Nation did not immediately return a request for comment.