Don Mclean proclaimed that music died in 1971.
Don Mclean was wrong, because in 2023, the world’s largest ticket vendor, Ticketmaster, reported record-breaking revenue despite overcoming three major customer service controversies this year.
Whether it was a barrage of bot traffic, government investigation, or misleading ticket prices, Ticketmaster encountered its fair share of crises but still managed to generate more revenue this year than ever before.
Bit of a customer service conundrum, right?
Here’s What You Need to Know
Ticket revenue increased in 2023.
According to TicketSellers, fewer people purchased tickets to music festivals in 2023. However, total revenue from these events increased by about 14% this year.
While ticket prices increased, the demand for tickets rose as well – fueling the boosts in revenue that vendors are reporting. With marquee artists like Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Drake, and Bruce Springsteen, going on tour, it makes sense that ticket prices would increase as more consumers would be interested in these major events.
Overall, global live music sales have already exceeded 25$ billion in 2023 and are expected to reach 32$ billion by the end of this year.
Ticketmaster reported record-breaking revenue in 2023.
Since its merger with Live Nation, Ticketmaster is by far the largest ticket vendor in the world. It processes around 500 million tickets each year and controls more than 80% of the market share for major concerts. It’s safe to say Ticketmaster sets the tone for the industry when it comes to news, trends, and updates.
In May of 2023, Ticketmaster reported a 73% increase in revenue from Q1 to Q2. It also sold a record-breaking 90 million tickets in the first five months of the year. While smaller vendors like TicketSellers experienced dips in ticket sales, Ticketmaster predicted that 2023 could be its most profitable year, yet.
But, it’s not all sunshine and daisies. Ticketmaster is facing backlash following multiple controversies related to musical tours like Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Drake. Let’s dive into each in more detail and review what business leaders and service professionals can learn from them.
3 Customer Service Crises for Ticketmaster in 2023
1. Taylor Swift
I will have Swifties knocking down my door if I don’t highlight the Eras Tour ticket scandal that occurred in November 2022. About a year ago, Taylor Swift announced her new tour that would take place in 2023, and in mid-November, tickets went on sale through Ticketmaster.
Within two days, Ticketmaster shut down sales “due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory.” A swarm of bots had swooped in and purchased a large portion of tickets, causing the system to crash and preventing real people from buying tickets. The result was that most tickets were bought by third-party sellers, allowing them to jack up prices upwards of 70 times the initial price.
While Ticketmaster issued an apology and attempted to resale a portion of the tickets, Swifties were not satisfied with its response.
fr , like how do you "accidentally release too many tickets" ?? it is quite literally THEIR JOB to evenly distribute… people on my tl were thinking that they were gonna replan and reschedule but they would've said postponed, not cancelled, if that was the case— gabi | 78, 379 (@gxbicuevas) November 17, 2022
Swift fans filed a lawsuit against the company in March 2023, but not much ground has been gained since. Despite widespread criticism from fans, lawmakers, and even Taylor Swift, Ticketmaster responded by issuing an apology, compensated some fans, and then went right on its way to nearly do the same thing in Europe.
In February, Beyoncé announced her Renaissance tour and once again fans flocked to purchase tickets online. This time, Ticketmaster staggered its sales, but users in the UK and Europe were affected by slow site speeds, sudden crashes, and massive queue times. While not as disastrous as the Eras tour, several fans turned to Twitter to report problems with making their purchase.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., lawmakers were investigating Ticketmaster for the Taylor Swift fiasco. The company asked users to register for tickets via its “Verified Fan” process and once again used staggered selling dates to reduce some of the pressure on its ticket server. About 5% of tickets in the Verified Fan program are resold, making it much more likely that they’re given to real fans, not bots or resellers.
This is a good example of proactive customer service and learning from a previous – albeit recent – crisis. Unfortunately, there’s not much Ticketmaster can apply from this scenario to the situation that happens in Montreal.
In March, a Canadian firm filed a class-action lawsuit against Ticketmaster for falsely advertising ticket prices. This time, fans of rap artist, Drake, were advertised $69 tickets. However, they quickly discovered that the actual price of tickets were closer to $400 on Ticketmaster’s website.
Additionally, one man claimed that Ticketmaster advertised tickets for a one-night show in Montreal for $700. After buying tickets, the vendor announced a second show on the following night for nearly half the price. The lawsuit claims that Ticketmaster knew it would announce another show, but was keeping it private to drive up ticket sales.
This situation represents one of the biggest problems in the ticket industry: customer centricity. Ticketmaster can act freely because it controls a significant majority of the market share and there is minimal regulation to hold it accountable.
Customer Service Takeaways
While your business might not be dealing with Beyoncé and Taylor Swift, there are a lot of things we can learn from these crises if you’re selling products online.
1. Be transparent with your supply.
If you’re selling online, let customers know how much of your product is available. Enable features in your online shop that alert users if a product’s inventory is low or if it’ll be going out of stock soon. Features like these keep customers informed and create a more transparent experience with your business.
Not to mention, this motivates customers to buy immediately. If a user sees a big red warning telling them that a product is going out of stock, they’ll be more likely to buy because the offer is time-sensitive.
2. Adopt a customer-first approach.
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling tickets, musical instruments, or the hotdogs at the show, embrace a customer-first service strategy. Sure, you can make a quick buck by bending the rules or finding a loophole that benefits your bottom line, but how does it affect your customers?
If you aren’t prioritizing the needs of your customer base, people are going to look elsewhere for their products. Unless you control a majority market share like Ticketmaster, customers will have options and they’ll be more interested in working with a brand that keeps their best interests in mind.
3. Respond to feedback and be proactive.
If you’re launching a new product or hosting an exclusive event, then your support team should be prepared to handle a range of scenarios – including crises. Put together a crisis management plan, prep your agents on what to do if something goes wrong, and set up a feedback loop to gather insights from customers so you can improve support over time.
Another way to be proactive is to invest in customer service technology. After the Eras tour, Ticketmaster created a more streamlined experience for Beyoncé. Live chat, estimated wait times, and AI assistants created a better conversion path for customers while also reducing pressure on Ticketmaster’s support system.
The Bottom Line
Ticketmaster is in a unique position because it controls a vast majority of its market share and faces little to no regulation. Until another competitor poses a threat to Ticketmaster, or regulation changes how it conducts business, it doesn’t have to focus as much on customer service like most businesses do.
If you’re trying to grow your business, customer service is an excellent differentiator – especially in a crowded industry. A great customer experience is hard to compete with and it can raise the overall value of your brand.