When Julia Thomas woke up at her Cleveland home last Saturday, she spontaneously decided to drive 15 hours to a Taylor Swift concert that night in Nashville, picking up her sister in Cincinnati on the way. But they lacked one thing: tickets.
Like many Swift fans, she couldn’t buy tickets on Ticketmaster when they went on sale last fall and couldn’t afford four figures. the price tag listed for them on resale sites. About halfway through, however, her sister found seats on the floor for $350 after updating various Swift-focused Twitter accounts: Ticketmaster just posted a few last-minute tickets on their website at face value.
“We’re seriously just really lucky,” she told CNN. “We got to Nashville about an hour before the show started.”
Thomas is one of the many dedicated fans who keep a close eye on multiple twitter accounts dedicated to alerting fans when Ticketmaster releases new batch of Swift Tickets after the initial sale.
Resetting tickets is not new. Allegedly, they are associated with the addition of additional seats or the return of tickets. But these drops have become an obsession with Swift’s most dedicated fans, who are struggling to find tickets for the artist in the face of wider Ticketmaster ticket confusion.
Ticketmaster is under scrutiny for tinkering with online sales of the megastar’s latest tour., in an era where it already completely dominates the live events industry, leaving few, if any, alternatives. In November, a pre-sale code was sent to Verified Fans, but when sales began, there was a lot of demand on the website and millions of Swifties couldn’t get their hands on a ticket. The advance ticket sale for Capital One cardholders was similarly disappointing, and then Ticketmaster canceled sales to the general public, citing “extremely high demand” and “insufficient ticket stock”.
In testimony before Congress, Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation President and CFO Joe Berchtold blamed bots in part for the ticketing incident. Hello stressed that Ticketmaster does not set ticket prices, does not determine the number of tickets offered for sale, and that “in most cases, service and ticketing fees set the seats”, not Ticketmaster.
Ticketmaster and Live Nation Swift fans across the country are now suing for “illegal conduct,” with the plaintiffs alleging that the ticketing giant violated antitrust laws, among other things. The preliminary hearing took place in March; Ticketmaster denied the allegations.
Millions of fans still cannot buy tickets. However, in recent weeks, Ticketmaster has been sending out more verified fan codes to people who were originally selected in the pre-sale to purchase the remaining tickets. For people who don’t have codes, Ticketmaster also offers regular pre-concert tickets.
However, it is not unusual for thousands of fans to try to get the same tickets at the same time. Sometimes seats are bought by bots and scalpers and posted on third party sites like StubHub within minutes.
Ticketmaster did not respond to a request for comment regarding the ticket drop.
But that doesn’t stop Swift fans. Some spend hours looking for tickets online and drive long distances to concert venues without a ticket in hand, even if it may end in heartbreak.
Molly Ramsey, an 18-year-old fan from Bristol, Tennessee, said she recently came across the @erastourticks Twitter account, where Ticketmaster drops are often reported. “My family [last weekend] took the risk of driving 5 hours to Nashville to see if we could get tickets at face value,” she said.
After nearly nine hours of updating Ticketmaster, she received four tickets right before the show started. “We sat outside the stadium while the first players played, but once our payment went through, it was an out-of-body experience,” she said. “My sister started screaming and dancing.”
In a nod to Swift’s hit song “Anti-Hero” and the rush to find tickets to drop, the Twitter account, which has about 22,000 followers, recently tweeted: “It must be exhausting to constantly root for the anti-hero aka @Ticketmaster.”
A similar site, @concertleaks, links its 62,000 subscribers to last-minute Swift tickets. The account was originally created a few years ago to post concert setlists, merchandise and tickets for various artists, but has evolved to help subscribers get tickets as well.
Another A Twitter account called @ErasTourResell, which has 120,000 followers, has gained significant popularity by working with resellers who want to sell their tickets at face value. The account is run by longtime friends Courtney Johnston, Shannet Garay and Angel Richards. The trio of twenty-somethings is committed to making Swift tickets as accessible to fans as possible without overpaying or being scammed.
“We have placed somewhere between 2,700 and 3,000 tickets so far, all at face value,” the trio said in a conversation with DM on Twitter. “It’s really nice to see these tickets go to real fans for face value when the resale market is crazy priced and people are making three times the profit. It was also amazing to meet people following the account on the show, especially if the only reason they could attend at all was through our account.”
They spend hours between work and going to school sifting through daily applications to make sure the tickets are genuine. The group encourages shoppers to request video confirmation of tickets, pay only through Paypal’s goods and services due to its protection plan, and never pay more than face value. (They also said they don’t make money from it and only do it to help other Swifties, but they do have a Ko-Fi account where people can donate funds for food or coffee.)
“Surprisingly, the verification process went very well and smoothly because by now we know what a snippet of a screen recording looks like, or what a fake or hacked email might look like,” the group said. “It’s all about capturing very small details — what color should the image be, what link should be active, where that link should take you, what message should appear at any given moment.”
But getting these tickets is not easy. After a ticket availability alert was posted on their Twitter page, many users say they never get a response from sellers and it’s not clear how they choose a buyer from the hundreds of fans who approach them.
“It’s definitely gotten harder as our following has increased,” the friends behind @ErasTourResell told CNN. “Some [sellers pick] based on the first direct message and mention, and others choose someone with a touching story, so it really changes. Having our notices helps as we tend to give a little warning and tease before posting most of the tickets.”
In addition to Twitter, many fans turn to sites like Reddit, including the R/Taylor Swift page, for details on Ticketmaster’s attacks. Some say they spotted them several times during the day, but most often 30 minutes before the start of the show. (Tickets even showed up an hour after the show started.) Others suggest using Apple Pay to speed up the checkout process and avoid losing tickets when entering credit card information.
Despite these huge efforts, not all fans find luck online.
Kathy Blackman, 33, from Birmingham, Alabama, said she spent the entire day at a Nashville hotel last weekend updating the site. Only once did she manage to put one ticket into her online shopping cart, but it disappeared before she could checkout.
However, that night she headed to Nissan Stadium and stood in the parking lot with hundreds of other ticketless fans trying to get inside. When the lights went out minutes before Swift took the stage, the crowd dispersed; she was almost the only one left still refreshing Ticketmaster.
“All my searching and scouring the Ticketmaster sites and reselling was useless,” she said. “But then all of a sudden, a random girl ran up to me seconds before she got out and said, ‘Hey, do you want to come with me?
A stranger had just bought tickets at the last minute and wanted to sell more. “A miracle happened,” Blackman said. “My new friend and I sang every song. We cried, we danced, we hugged. It was worth it to get there.”