- Yati Sanghvi faced a lot of challenges while buying tickets for a BTS concert on Ticketmaster.
- She says it’s just one example of a live entertainment company profiting from its monopoly.
- Some members of Congress are taking steps to correct it.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
On September 27, South Korean boyband BTS announced a series of four concerts in Los Angeles – their first live-action show in more than two years. As a huge fan and someone who got tickets for his 2020 tour that was canceled before getting compensation, I was thrilled.
But getting tickets to watch one of the biggest boy bands in the world is no easy feat. For me, the stress and anxiety stem from one question: How is Ticketmaster going to blow me up during this time?
Ticketmaster is known for making live entertainment tickets an absolute nightmare. The company has a long history of monopolistic practices, having acquired rival Ticketron in 1991 and merged with Live Nation in 2010 despite the objections of several lawmakers. As of 2018, the company was issuing tickets for 80 of the top 100 arenas in the country.
This massive control means Ticketmaster is often the only way for fans to get tickets to see their favorite stars perform, resulting in a frustrating experience I’ve had multiple times. But trying to secure tickets for BTS stadium shows was my worst experience so far.
Due to high demand, BTS concert tickets for 5 days have been booked
The first four days were tiered pre-sales for fans with tickets for their canceled 2020 tour, BTS’ paid “Army Membership” fan club members, and Ticketmaster approved fans. The last day was the public sale.
On October 6 at 5:30 p.m. I anxiously checked into Ticketmaster and waited to be queued for day two of the ticketing schedule. I was hoping to get a pair of floor seats for at least one of the party’s days.
According to many fans on Twitter, by the end of the first day of sales, almost all of the best seats were reserved – including VIP, floor and level 100. On the second day, when tickets started going out, we were told that VIP seats for voice check-in would not be available.
After spending over 2 hours in a queue, I went to the seat selection page, only to get error messages. I was able to work around the bug by completely re-entering the queue – the troubleshooting method I learned thanks to Twitter.
After nearly three hours of joining the ticket queues, I finally got a pair of 400 seats.
I thought I’d try to get better tickets during the next day’s pre-show
Instead, I got an email saying I had to sit down because Ticketmaster “was unable to validate” my information.
Meanwhile, I was amazed to see fans report tens of thousands of seats on every level, including VIPs, still available for purchase – seats that those who booked tickets with me and I couldn’t get the day before.
Ticketmaster at the end canceled The general public sold out completely, announcing on Twitter that the shows had been sold out. Meanwhile, according to Twitter, there were countless tickets already unexpected appearance to outrageous prices On resale sites used by brokers.
By the end of the week, I felt lucky to be able to get any tickets at all. I bought a pair for the November 28 show and managed to get two more tickets for the November 27 show from a fan whose plans had changed. Many fans were not so lucky.
Sorry but Ticketmaster has had two years to figure out how to improve their ticket system knowing that when concerts come back demand will double. Especially since BTS tickets have always been crazy and they knew, I can’t believe how messy and unprofessional it was to deal with them. One fan tweeted.
—Ivana (@inlovejhs) October 9, 2021
BTS fans’ harrowing ticket experience is one of many
Earlier this year, fans of Lorde blasted Ticketmaster’s endless queues and crashing website as they tried to secure tickets for the singer’s “Solar Power” tour. This month, Adele fans complained about the Ticketmaster “Verified Fan” pre-sale system and outrageous resale prices, while Olivia Rodrigo’s fans were outraged by the multiple technical difficulties.
When tickets for the US segment of Harry Styles’ “Love On Tour” movie, which has been postponed from 2020 to 2021 due to COVID-19, sold out, fans on Twitter were particularly vocal about the official Platinum seats, which are tickets being sold at flexible prices by event organizers in order to Enable “market-based pricing,” according to the Ticketmaster website.
However, fans like me see them as an excuse to raise prices.
– Sandra Donda (@Sandra_Donda) November 5, 2021
“Ticketmaster cannot get away with such extravagant ‘speculative’ behavior because it has 70% market share and no meaningful competition,” Mark Perry, an economist and professor at the University of Michigan told me.
In a recent editorial for The Hill, Perry wrote that Ticketmaster can also book tickets to create a false sense of rarity. This method leaves consumers in the dark about the true supply of tickets and whether more tickets will be issued later, causing a buying frenzy. This, I think, is exactly what BTS fans have experienced.
With live events returning, economists and lawmakers call on the government to address Ticketmaster’s monopoly on the live entertainment market
In 1994, Pearl Jam tried to get revenge on the company in the hopes of keeping ticket prices low and looking for fans. The US Department of Justice investigated Pearl Jam’s allegations but the band ultimately lost, with the Justice Department concluding that Ticketmaster had not violated antitrust laws.
When it was time for the next Pearl Jam round, they were forced to use Ticketmaster just like everyone else. “This has been a battle where the biggest band in the world hasn’t had a chance,” Ed Power of The Independent wrote in 2019.
But times are changing. In April, five members of Congress signed a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Acting Federal Trade Commission Chair Rebecca Slaughter urging strong antitrust regulations against Live Nation Entertainment “to protect future consumer access to live events.”
Two years ago, Congressman Paskrill also reintroduced the BOSS Act to Congress, which would further regulate the live event ticket industry by demanding transparency about ticket size and pricing.
“The BOSS Act is the best way to restore the pro-consumer ticket market by challenging Ticketmaster’s anticompetitive monopoly status,” Berry said, adding that the bill was now being reconsidered in Congress.
If passed, it would also mean some relief for people like me. Not only will it remove some of the stress and pressure associated with buying tickets, but it will also create a more equitable system for all music lovers.
Ticketmaster did not immediately respond to an Insider’s request for comment.