Taylor, Ticketmaster and Seizing the Moment to Drive Issue Advocacy
To begin, full disclosure: I am not a die-hard Taylor Swift fan, aka a “Swiftie.” I am, however, a big fan of issue advocacy. And the recent Taylor Eras Tour-Ticketmaster sale debacle is a case study in how to seize the moment to advance your issue, policy, or legislation.
In this instance, fans were outraged by hours of waiting in queue for the long-awaited Eras tour pre-sale and ultimately, the general sale was canceled, leaving scores of fans without the opportunity to buy tickets. They flocked to complain on social platforms, to their state attorneys general and even Congress, filing lawsuits and reigniting the push to investigate and possibly break up the LiveNation-Ticketmaster merger of 2010. Hell hath no fury like a Swiftie scorned.
But, all kidding aside, the presale disaster shined the spotlight more brightly than ever before on an issue that consumer advocates and artists have been trying to change for over a decade. Ticketmaster is huge and has exclusive arrangements with most concert venues in the U.S. It’s also an arm of LiveNation, and so it’s almost impossible to avoid buying tickets via Ticketmaster for many large shows and big-name artists.
Fans and others who disagree with this business model say it’s a violation of antitrust regulations and the merger should never have been allowed. It’s not a new argument, but it’s also not been a hot topic in recent years. When was the last time anyone paid attention to this arrangement or people raised a ruckus en masse? If not for Taylor Swift, the moment might not have come at all.
While it’s rare and unlikely those of us in issue advocacy may find ourselves with such a high-profile story of this magnitude, telling the stories of those impacted by a law, policy, or lack thereof, can make all the difference. When it comes down to it, policy matters because of the way it affects our lives.
The outcry, the activism, and the engagement of those who feel cheated and frustrated by the Ticketmaster process is an example of how one story, one moment, and yes, one superstar, can solidify the advocacy effort to effect change.