Ticketmaster claims that no one could have predicted the immense demand for Taylor Swift concert tickets that crashed their website, disappointed fans, and had congress threatening to investigate them for antitrust violations.
Too bad they don’t read this blog, because last week I predicted this concert was going to be The Big One.
I’ve written here before that missing Taylor’s Red tour is the greatest regret of my life, one I vowed never to repeat.
My best friend Nina, her daughter Adrienne, and I have to see the Eras tour.
I knew luck would be the determining factor in obtaining tickets to the event of the decade.
But I also knew there were things I could do to improve my chances. I couldn’t sleep on the sidewalk to ensure I was first in line like in the old days. This was a modern war that would take wit over brute force to win.
The way I saw it, there were two critical hurdles to overcome:
- Obtaining a Presale Code
- Avoiding the Ticketmaster website crash
The presale code was absolutely critical. For two weeks before the tickets went on sale, fans could sign up with their Ticketmaster account to enter a random drawing for a code to participate in Tuesday’s presale. The chances of any tickets being available for the Friday public sale were slim. If we didn’t get selected for the presale, our fight was over before we ever stepped onto the battlefield.
Nina and I tapped everyone we knew who wasn’t interested in going to the concert to sign up for the presale drawing. Parents, brothers, friends. We got 20 email addresses signed up, and I knew that wasn’t enough. I opened up 15 new Gmail accounts and signed them up for Ticketmaster accounts.
On the eve of the presale, we frantically refreshed our browsers, waiting for the e-mail that would detail our fate.
Out of 35 chances, we got 2 presale codes.
We were in the game.
I set six different alarm clocks for the next morning. The tickets didn’t go on sale until 10 am and I haven’t slept past 7 in years, but I was taking no chances.
I had a Jack Reacher style breakfast and wrote out a pep talk for myself in my diary.
Now that we had our code, the second hurdle would be getting into the online queue before Ticketmaster’s inevitable crash. I set up my personal and work laptops, and borrowed 3 more computers from friends and family.
At 9:15, a full 45 minutes before the tickets went on sale, I began logging into Ticketmaster.
It was already crashing, but I didn’t panic.
Like an old lady at a row of Atlantic City slot machines, I logged into Ticketmaster on each computer one at a time, and by the time I got to the last laptop, the first one had errored out and I began again.
I got in with 5 minutes to spare.
Six minutes later I was in the queue.
My heart was pounding, my palms were sweaty, but at this point I was filled with optimism. I’d cleared the two most difficult hurdles—surely we’d get tickets now. We were hoping for good seats, but we’d be there, even if we had to settle for the nosebleed section.
One hour ticked by. Then two. I had Twitter open on one screen checking for updates from Ticketmaster, and the stadium seating chart up on another screen.
I was terrified of letting my screen go to sleep. Every two seconds, I moved the cursor to make sure it stayed alive.
Nina and I kept in constant contact through text. We hadn’t thought we’d need to use the second code, but the horror stories were coming through online—people getting kicked out of the queue for seemingly no reason after hours in line. People making it all the way through—picking out seats and then getting bumped out before they could pay.
I knew if we got in that I had to move like a Navy Seal on an extraction mission—in and out before the enemy bots knew I was even there.
Nina’s husband Tony had the second code, and I texted him at 12:30 pm and told him to try to get in line. We’d have little chance with him logging on so late, but if I got bumped out of the queue at this point, we were dead.
At 12:54 I started hallucinating.
I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. I was afraid to take my eyes off the computer for even a moment. I rescheduled work meetings. I ignored critical emails.
My world shrunk to the size of the dot representing my place in line.
I was in the fight of my life.
In my favorite novel by Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, the character Mike says that he went bankrupt two ways. “Gradually, then suddenly.”
That’s how it was for me and the Taylor Swift tickets.
At 1:57 pm, after 3 hours and 57 minutes of the screen saying that my place in line was “2000+,” it suddenly changed to 1,352.
I was on a mandatory work conference call. With my heart pounding in my ears, I very calmly said, “I need to step away for a personal emergency” and hung up without waiting for permission.
Within seconds my place in line dropped to the 800s, then the 300s, then I was at 2….then 1.
Then I was in.
My hands shook but I pulled out my notebook with our preferred seating sections. There were three tickets available in our 3rd choice—good seats at face value where we’d be able to see without watching the jumbotron all night.
This felt like a fever dream. I wasn’t sure if it was really happening.
Texts were coming in fast and furious from Nina demanding to know what was going on but I ignored everything.
It could still go sideways, I knew.
I couldn’t blow it with one false move.
I clicked the section, clicked 3 seats, and clicked “buy.”
I waited while the hourglass spun around and around. I held my breath. It was the longest moment of my life.
And then I saw the sweetest picture on my screen:
I’d done it.
I’d beaten the odds and the bots.
I’d survived a war of attrition that had taken out so many worthy adversaries.
I couldn’t believe it.
Neither could Nina.
ARE YOU SURE? she kept asking.
I wasn’t sure!
I couldn’t log into Ticketmaster to confirm, because it kept crashing. But I had their confirmation email.
“Call the credit card company,” she told me. “See if the charge is on there.”
I did, and it was.
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will keep us from Acrisure Stadium on June 16, 2023.
The maximum number of tickets you could buy was six. But I only needed three, and I only bought 3, even though I could’ve bought 3 more and sold them at 10 times their face value on Stub Hub. But I left them behind.
Probably the bots got them.
But I’d like to think that someone else who wanted to see Taylor Swift just as much as I did picked up three tickets at face value for her and her young daughters.
I worked hard to get those tickets, but so did a lot of others who walked away empty handed.
Don’t think I don’t know how lucky I am.