Fury over Taylor Swift concert ticket issues fuels fan mobilization

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Ticketmaster led to blackouts, long waits and frenzied buying. By Thursday, the page had canceled the general sale, claiming there were not enough tickets left

Fury over Taylor Swift concert ticket issues fuels fan mobilization

Taylor Swift. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/File Photo

Some Taylor Swift fans are claiming three things: They are over 16, they have careers and resources, and right now they are furious.

See where Ticketmaster put them in.

It all started on Tuesday, November 15, when millions packed into a pre-sale for Swift's long-awaited Eras Tour, resulting in system crashes, long waits and frenzied shopping. On Thursday, Ticketmaster canceled sales due to insufficient tickets, she said, prompting an outburst from fans. Swift herself said that her nightmare drives her crazy.

Ticketmaster apologized, but the damage was done. And now fans — and politicians — have begun to take action.

Regulator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez guided fans on how to file complaints with the United States Department of Justice. Several state attorneys general —including those of Pennsylvania and Tennessee, key states for the singer's story— have announced investigations.

Stephanie Aly, a New York-based professional with experience in mobilizing community in favor of progressive policies, has thought for years that the mobilization of fans for social progress could be positive.

Fury over Taylor Swift concert ticket issues encourages fan mobilization

Ticketmaster apologized but the bad blood was over sown. And now the fans, and the politicians, have begun to act on it. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs/File Photo

“Fan groups are natural organizers,” said the 33-year-old fan. “If one hits the key on the real problems and activates them and makes them participate, effective changes can be achieved.”

In 2020, for example, Korean pop fans organized to support the Black Lives Matter movementand tried to inflate ticket orders for a Donald Trump event. Aly and “Swifties” from various professions—law and cybersecurity among others—have created Vigilante Legal, a group that attacks Ticketmaster by organizing petitions to attorneys general and circulating antitrust information. Thousands have expressed an interest in helping or learning more.

“The level of anger that has been seen in the country around this issue is staggering,” said Jean Sinzdak, associate director of the Center on American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “People are expressing what they feel and creating a movement online that I find truly fascinating. Without a doubt, it is an opportunity for political participation. Whether it will last is hard to say, but it certainly looks like a real opportunity.”

In a way, Sinzdak said, it gives Swift's large number of young fans a direct way to See how a policy is made. In addition, she targets a sector of the population that politicians pay scant attention to during election season.

“Nobody says 'let's go to young women,'” said Gwen Nisbett, a scholar of the intersection between political participation and pop culture. “Whether it's abortion or college loans, that sector is over-mobilized and young women are over-mobilized.”

Anger over Taylor Swift concert ticket issues encourages fan mobilization

For Swifties, anger over Ticketmaster is not it's just about a ticket: “It's the fact that you can't participate in your community and your fans and it's part of your identity,” Nisbett said. (Disney+)

The culture and the community of fans has driven that trend towards mobilization. Nisbett was studying parasocial relationships in 2018 when the previously apolitical Swift posted an endorsement of Democratic candidates on social media. Nisbett found that while such posts may not determine fan votes, they still increase the likelihood that fans will seek more voting information and actually vote.

A comprehensive poll of the US electorate showed that roughly a third of Tennessee voters in 2018 said they viewed Swift favorably, and among them a large majority, around 7 in 10, backed Democrat Phil Bredesen in the election. Senate contest. That was in stark contrast to about a third of voters who were unfavorable to Swift and overwhelmingly backed Republican Marsha Blackburn.

For Swifties, anger over Ticketmaster isn't about one ticket only: “It's the fact that you can't participate in your community and your fans and it's part of your identity,” said Nisbett.

This isn't even the first time that a fandom or an artist turns to Ticketmaster. Pearl Jam targeted the company in 1994, though the Justice Department ultimately declined to file a case. More recently, Bruce Springsteen fans have been infuriated by the high ticket costs due to the platform's dynamic pricing system.

“It's not just about getting back at Swifties. It's not about getting a million extra tickets for Taylor Swift fans, or all of us going to a secret session,” said Jordan Burger, 28, who is using his law background to help the cause. “This is about fundamental equality. And when you have a monopoly like that, it is so representative of the class structure of a society where there is no longer equality, there is no justice.”

Fury over Taylor Swift concert ticket issues encourages fan mobilization

Taylor Swift with her fans. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Swift's sheer power and fandom size has spurred conversations about economic inequality, simply symbolized by Ticketmaster.

Aly noticed that quite a few members of the group got tickets; the problem is bigger than Ticketmaster, she said.

“We've gotten some feedback saying, 'This is too big, let the government handle it.' Have you seen the United States government? Government only works when the people push it and when the people demand that it work and the people are involved,” she said. “Even when something seems too big to fail or too powerful to fail, there are always enough of us to make a difference. Your involvement may be what pushes him over the edge into forcing the government to act.”

Aly says many adult Swifties have 10-15 years of experience being bullied for liking the singer , but what the fans have in mind might be better than revenge.

“We've got tough skin and nothing to lose, really,” he said Aly.

(with reporting from AP)