A small percentage of Taylor Swift fans made huge profits reselling their Eras Tour tickets on sites like StubHub as professional scalpers mostly had to watch from the sidelines, according to data reviewed by Billboard.
The unusual dynamic underscores the challenges major tours face in combating scalpers — and the unintended consequences of efforts to keep tickets off the secondary market.
Swift’s touring team sought to keep tickets for the Eras Tour off the secondary market, according to Ticketmaster officials, and met with Ticketmaster executives to discuss how to best prevent mass ticket scalping. One option was that Ticketmaster could use its Safetix service to digitally lock tickets in place and prevent fans from transferring their tickets, effectively blocking all ticket buyers from reselling their tickets on sites like StubHub. But the downside was that, while many fans liked the idea of blocking scalpers, they didn’t like having their own tickets made non-transferable and found such restrictions inconvenient.
Ultimately, the tour decided to use Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan platform to screen out scalpers from the initial ticket sale, asking buyers to register in advance. Fans identified as legitimate fans were sent a code allowing them to buy tickets during the presale, which opened on Nov. 15, 2022, and subsequently crashed as millions of fans, scalpers and bots flooded the site.
Ticketmaster officials would later say the website meltdown was the result of a massive denial of service attack that disrupted the presale but didn’t defeat the security measures put in place to screen out scalpers from fans. As proof of its success, Ticketmaster announced that less than 5% of the approximately 5 million tickets sold for the tour ended up being listed on secondary markets.
It’s an impressive feat compared with other major tours in 2023 that took fewer steps to keep tickets off the secondary market and on average saw 20–30% of available tickets sold through StubHub.
While secondary tickets for tours like Beyonce’s and Coldplay’s were initially listed at major markups several times the face value, as more tickets moved through the secondary market prices dropped over time.
Swift’s Eras Tour saw the opposite effect. Eras tickets on StubHub were marked up 10 times face value, and then never dropped. The huge spike in price allowed resale sites, which collect a percentage of sales from both sellers and buyers, to make up the revenue it would have generated had they sold a higher volume of tickets, according to a StubHub rep.
Selling the tickets was easy, but getting them into the hands of fans proved difficult. StubHub noticed that orders for Eras tickets were experiencing an unusually high volume of delays and complaints from buyers. When company officials investigated the issue, they discovered that 83% of the Eras Tour tickets sold on its site were coming from new accounts with no record of past sales. The vast majority of those tickets are believed to have come from Swift fans, and they were making big bucks. A ticket with a face value under $150 could fetch $1,700, while tickets close to the stage were going for as high as $10,000.
While the outcome of the story is surprising, the fact that 83% of the available inventory of Eras Tour tickets on StubHub was sold by fans and not ticket brokers is a testament to how efficiently Swift and Ticketmaster were screening out professional scalpers, reducing their access to inventory to less than 1% of available tickets. While Swift would probably prefer that none of her tickets be flipped on the secondary market, at least she can take solace knowing that her fans, not professional scalpers, reaped most of the financial rewards.