Last November, thousands of fans who had been saving to buy tickets for “Eras Tour”, the next tour of the singer Taylor Swift, they got an unpleasant surprise. While they were in a virtual queue that lasted for hours, many witnessed how the website crashed and removed the tickets from their carts, even expelling them from the queue.
In addition to the large fees that some of the lucky ones who were able to buy them had to pay, there was also the serious problem of resale. On various websites, tour tickets began to sell for thousands and thousands of dollars, prohibitive prices for many fans, who were also unable to buy them later in the general sale due to the cancellation of the sale by the TicketMaster website. The incident was so serious that the U.S. Senate decided to take up the case at a hearing on Tuesday.
“Blame it on the bots”
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday dealt with the questionable merger between the companies Live Nation and Ticketmaster, two large companies dedicated to the sale of concert tickets. Following the merger, parent company Live Nation Entertainment was formed, which was responsible for ticket distribution for Swift’s new tour.
In a hearing where the popular singer was not present, the president of Live Nation Entertainment, Joe Berchtold, defended himself against the fiasco in ticket sales, denying that his company was in charge of setting the ticket prices and alluding to the intervention of cybercriminals using bots.
“Major ticketing companies, including Ticketmaster, do not set ticket prices, decide how many go on sale or when, and set no service fees. Pricing and distribution strategies are set by artists and their teams”said the manager. “We knew that the bots would attack the sale and we anticipated it accordingly. We received three times the amount of traffic from bots than ever before and for the first time ever they went after our verified follower passcode servers”.
These bots, dedicated to buying tickets in large quantities and then reselling them, did not achieve their goals of buying tickets and compromising their systems, but they did force web administrators to “slow down and even interrupt sales“, something that led to “terrible experience” that Swift’s fans lived through.
After his statement, Berchtold apologized for everything that happened before the Judiciary Committee, as well as to the rest of the legislators present at the hearing: “As we said after the sale, and I reiterate today, we apologize to the many disappointed fans and to Ms. Swift”.