concert tickets on fire
Insights

How Taylor Swift Fans Overwhelmed Ticketmaster, Twice

November 21, 2022 | Updated November 22, 2022

When the ticketmaster.com website buckled under the pressure to meet the demand of Taylor Swift fans for tickets last week, it was actually the second time the website’s performance drew widespread complaints from her fans. The singer herself echoed the outrage expressed by her fans, and the incident may even trigger closer regulatory scrutiny of the market dominance of Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation.

Key takeaways 

  • As Taylor Swift fans (“Swifties”) rushed to take advantage of a pre-sale ticket offer on November 15, ticketmaster.com saw about 12.3 million visits, or 3.5 times as much traffic as on an average day, according to Similarweb estimates. The website crashed, and Ticketmaster canceled plans for subsequent day sales for lack of remaining inventory.
  • Ticketmaster had gotten a preview of what was coming on November 1 when plans for the Taylor Swift tour were announced and fans were told they would have to register in advance as part of a “verified fans” program to even be eligible to buy tickets on November 15. That event attracted 8.2 million visitors and also prompted widespread complaints that the website was failing to meet the demand.

Two traffic peaks in two weeks

Ticketmaster got two weeks warning of the traffic that crushed its website with the initial tour announcement, which got Swifties rushing to make sure they were pre-registered as part of a “verified fans” program that is supposed to prevent bots from dominating ticket buying. But the traffic that followed when tickets became available for purchase on Nov. 15 was another 50% larger.

Ticketmaster.com traffic and Taylor Swift

In the Nov. 1 surge, Swift fans took to Twitter to decry the poor experience.

Taylor Swift fan tweeting about long line in ticketmaster.com

Verified fans traffic

Pages related to the Verified Fans program, as in how to join it, saw a particularly sharp increase on November 1.

Ticketmaster verified fan program

Ticketmaster’s Explanation

Under the heading, “The Demand For Tickets To Taylor’s Tour Broke Records – And Parts Of Our Website,” the company explained, “Historically, we’ve been able to manage huge volume coming into the site to shop for tickets, so those with Verified Fan codes have a smooth shopping process. However, this time the staggering number of bot attacks, as well as fans who didn’t have codes, drove unprecedented traffic on our site, resulting in 3.5 billion total system requests – 4x our previous peak.”

The issue wasn’t just the number of visits but the velocity of transactions, according to the company. “Overall, we estimate about 15% of interactions across the site experienced issues, and that’s 15% too many, including passcode validation errors that caused fans to lose tickets they had carted.”

Despite the disruptions, Ticketmaster says over 2 million tickets were sold, or “the most tickets ever sold for an artist in a single day.”

That’s of little comfort to the fans who were unable to buy tickets when the website was failing, however.

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Report By: David F. Carr, Senior Insights Manager

Methodology

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