Ticketmaster has canceled its planned public sale of tickets to Taylor Swift’s latest tour after a whirlwind few days that demonstrated not only Swift’s extraordinary fan following but the limitations of music’s dominant ticketing system.
“Due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand,” Ticketmaster announced on Thursday, “tomorrow’s public on-sale for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour has been cancelled.”
The chaos began on Tuesday, when Swift’s tour — her first in five years — began the first of several tiers of “presales” for fans through Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program, which is designed to weed out bots and speculators in favor of customers that are determined to most likely be actual fans.
Millions of fans were locked out. In a blog post published by Ticketmaster on Thursday, the company said that 3.5 million people registered for the Verified Fan program, and “around 1.5 million” of them were given the opportunity to buy a ticket to the tour, which is scheduled for 52 dates in North America starting in March.
Ticketmaster received 3.5 billion system requests that day, four times its previous peak. Two million tickets were sold on Tuesday alone.
“Never before has a Verified Fan on sale sparked so much attention — or uninvited volume,” the company said.
The public sale, planned for Friday, was for any tickets left after the tour’s presales earlier in the week. Ticketmaster gave no indication of whether any more ticket inventory was left to sell. A representative of Swift did not respond to a request for comment.
This news only further frustrated Ms. Swift’s fans, known as Swifties, who had complained of technical difficulties and hourslong wait times during the Verified Fan presale. That program required fans to preregister with Ticketmaster, selecting their preferred tour date and location and providing personal information including cellphone numbers.
Swift, one of the most renowned songwriters and hitmakers of her generation, has also been a meticulous manager of her brand and an unparalleled marketer on a mass scale. During a recent period of productivity, which has included five album releases in just over two years, she has expanded her merchandise operation to include everything from picture frames and sticky notes to cassette tapes and vinyl LPs in various limited-edition colors.
The finger-pointing started quickly.
Speaking on the CNBC program “Squawk on the Street” earlier on Thursday, Greg Maffei, the chairman of Live Nation, Ticketmaster’s parent company, cited Swift’s extreme popularity as part of the issue.
“It’s a function of Taylor Swift. The site was supposed to open up for 1.5 million verified Taylor Swift fans. We had 14 million people hit the site, including bots, which are not supposed to be there,” Maffei said.
The ticketing drama this week reignited calls from some lawmakers, who questioned whether the 2010 merger of two powerful events companies — Ticketmaster and Live Nation, which dominates the touring industry as a promoter and venue owner — created a monopoly that harms customers.
The merger, “should never have been approved,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat from New York, tweeted on Tuesday. “Break them up.”
Representative David N. Cicilline, a Democrat of Rhode Island, added: “It’s no secret that Live Nation-Ticketmaster is an unchecked monopoly.”