‘You’re on Your Own, Kid’: Taylor Swift fans struggle for Eras Tour tickets

By Isabella Reilly

On the morning of Nov. 15, 2022, lifelong Taylor Swift fan Emma McElroy sat at her kitchen table at 9:30 a.m. Bright-eyed and glued to her computer screen, she patiently waited to join the Verified Fan presale for Swift’s upcoming tour — the first concert the singer has headlined since 2018.  

At 9:41 a.m, she nervously texted her friend Jayne Willard. 

“Are you in the waiting room?” 

“Yes,” Willard replied. “I’m very scared.”

But by 10:33 a.m., McElroy sent another text, this time excited. 

“I got five lower bowl tickets for April 28 in Atlanta!” 

“Still 2,000 plus people in front of me,” Willard replied at 10:35 a.m.  

And at 11:21 a.m., Willard sent two sad face emojis with a message that read, “I haven’t moved in over 40 minutes.”

As a long-time fan of the singer herself, Willard said the cost didn’t matter. She had to see Swift live. 

Still, she didn’t think she’d have to bear with a 6-hour, slow-moving wait in Ticketmaster’s virtual queue to get what she wanted. 

“Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve”

Willard was one of millions of fans to experience significant wait times, site interaction issues and exorbitant additional fees during Swift’s Ticketmaster presale. Fans and scalpers competed for a seat to one of the tour’s 52 U.S. show dates. Twenty-six concert hopefuls have since filed suit against the ticketing company, claiming it engaged in anticompetitive and fraudulent conduct. 

“I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could,” Swift said in an Instagram statement. “It’s truly amazing 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.” 

McElroy said as soon as she began moving in the queue, she knew she was ahead of others in line. She said she couldn’t believe how quickly she was able to get her hands on tickets.

Willard, who was competing for tickets to Swift’s third show in Tampa, said she entered the presale intending to buy two seats, assuming someone would want to go with her.

But after finally getting through to ticket selection, Willard recalls clicking on a single seat to view the price before immediately being sent to checkout. 

“I had one seat in my cart and thought, ‘I’m not going to risk this,’” she said. “I was just grateful to get out with something.” 

Despite the friends’ vastly different experiences, Willard and McElroy were some of the lucky ones. The ticket battle left many fans, such as Alexa Mazloff, empty-handed.   

After a 4-hour wait in the queue, Mazloff said she thought she could rejoin the presale line the following day and purchase one of the remaining tickets to Swift’s first Tampa show. Though she didn’t think her selection would be as vast, she trusted that if she logged on early enough the next morning, she would be fine.

She later learned she wasn’t.

To address what Ticketmaster called a “historic demand for tickets,” the company postponed the exclusive presale for Capital One cardholders scheduled for the afternoon of Nov. 15 to the following day. The general public sale, scheduled for Nov. 18, was canceled later that week. 

Jennifer Kinder, a lawyer representing Swift fans and founding attorney at the Dallas-based firm Kinder Law PLLC, said she had never seen a situation like Swift’s recent ticket sales before.

The Ticketmaster issues made national news, even attracting the attention of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, which held a case hearing on the matter on Jan. 24.  

“Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m the problem, it’s me,’” Sen. Richard Blumenthal said during the three-hour hearing, quoting a lyric from Swift’s new single “Anti-Hero.”

Compounding an already trying customer experience, Kinder said verified fan tickets were sold for higher prices than initially negotiated, allowing the company to increase its existing additional fees. 

“As long as they can get scalpers and bots to buy a bunch of tickets, then they are ensured that the ticket will be sold two to three more times,” Kinder added. “And each time there is a new fee, they benefit.” 

Mazloff said that though she’s still on the hunt for a pair of tickets, most available for resale are out of her price range. She recalled an offer of one set of tickets priced at $1,000 each. 

“I’m sorry, but that is out of budget,” she said. “For me and for most people.”

“The Great War”

Kinder said she stands behind her decision to take on the suit, regardless of the criticism she’s faced.

She hopes her efforts will help prevent the further implementation of industry monopolies like the one fans claim Ticketmaster currently holds. Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation Entertainment, an events promoter and venue operator, in 2010. As a result, the company now holds an estimated 70% share of the market for ticketing and live events. 

Since Kinder Law began its “Take Down Ticketmaster” campaign in November, the firm has encouraged fans of other major artists interested in fundamental change to document their ticketing experiences, adding, “consumers need to stand up for themselves.” 

The first federal court hearing for the Swift fans’ lawsuit against the ticketing giant will be held on March 27. Kinder said the firm is prepared for what will likely be a “big fight.”

As for Willard, she isn’t letting anything get in the way of seeing Swift in Tampa. 

A first-year graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill, she even moved her thesis defense, initially due by April 16, so it wouldn’t conflict with her show date. The committee hearing her defense agreed to do so on April 7, a scheduled university holiday.

With her one ticket secured, she’ll attend Swift’s concert solo, hoping the show will be akin to a religious experience. 

“Nothing is going to stop me now,” she said.


Edited by Allie Kelly and Guillermo Molero

College content creators provide insights, make their mark on campus

By Chantel Gillus

Brianya Chambliss grew up in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, where she had big dreams of becoming an entertainer.

As a child, she aspired to be in the spotlight, whether it was through music, dancing or both. 

She also served as a role model to her younger sister, Destiny, encouraging her to stay focused in school and strive towards her goals. 

Kelsey Boyd lives thirty minutes away in Enfield, North Carolina. She started out taking pictures in her snazzy outfits throughout middle and high school, and she created a YouTube channel called DKNZ with three of her closest friends in highschool. 

Boyd was in her freshman year of college, when she was encouraged by a friend and fellow content creator to take content creation seriously. This led to her creating a solo YouTube channel, purchasing a camera and documenting her adventures. 

Jordyn Middleton, who was born and raised in Washington, D.C., also had a passion for fashion along with a strong connection to poetry and spirituality. 

She said she remembered going to a church conference when she was younger and being driven to content creation after being touched by the devotion of one of the women she met there.

“I remember the Holy Spirit coming over me,” she said. “And as soon as I got back to Washington, D.C., I remember I wanted to be a part of this and I wanted to share about God just as other people have and how he’s touched me and moved me in my life.”

Different approach, same passion

Boyd, Chambliss and Middleton are all up and coming content creators who have three different, yet slightly similar missions. 

The trio are currently attending different universities. Boyd and Middleton go to UNC-Chapel Hill and Chambliss goes to North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University

Chambliss said she wanted to become an influencer so she can have an outlet to do the things she couldn’t or was too afraid to in person. She wants to use social media to connect with other people. 

Boyd said she got into content creation because she loves fashion. She loves trying to find ways to make things look aesthetically pleasing. 

She describes herself as a micro-influencer with a minimalistic aesthetic. She enjoys creating content for the fun of it, exhibiting her life, outgoing personality, and style in her own unique way. 

“There is no one else at all like Kelsey,” she said. “So me being me, just me being my loving, goofy, just showing my personality, my bubbly, social self. I think that’s what I bring, along with being a resource to people.” 

Outside of fashion and lifestyle content, Boyd and Middleton like to use their platform to exhibit what life is like for them as Black women at UNC-CH for current and future college students.

Boyd said there aren’t a lot of Black students at predominantly white institutions like UNC-CH, and there are even fewer Black students with an online presence like hers. So, she tries to use her platform to answer questions other Black students might have about going to school there.

Middleton said Black womanhood is very important to her. She said being the best version of herself she can be is critical to both herself and Black women and girls in general. 

“I just try my very best to be intentional about the words that I say because I know that the little, young people that are coming behind me are looking at me, and I just want to make sure I’m making decisions that will be positive on them,” said Middleton. 

Unlike Middleton, Chambliss often posts Q&A’s, vlogs, dances and original music. She said she likes to post things she comes up with because she likes the feeling of making her mark on the content she creates.

All of them said they try to come up with unique content and be their most authentic selves.

“I am a firm believer that if it’s meant for you, then it’ll be meant for you. If I continue to be myself, I’m not gonna do anything that is outside of my comfort zone just because it’s a trend. I am going to stay within my realm and do what’s comfortable for me,” Boyd said.

Being a light for others

The three of them said that, as content creators, there’s a gratification that comes with garnering love from your audience and being a beacon of light for others.

Boyd said she can see the impact she’s had on people through her interactions with people on campus. She said people would see her and tell her they watched her YouTube videos and encouraged her to keep making content.

“I definitely see the influence in that and it does make me feel good, and it makes me want to keep going because you never know who’s watching,” said Boyd. 

However, they all said they were careful not to rely on validation from others.

Chambliss said it was important to acknowledge that people might not know what others are going through. So, she said she doesn’t care how others feel about her experiences. Only she knows what they have been like for her and how to express that in the content she creates.

For Middleton, being herself and making content that reflects that is a testament of what God wants her to be. She doesn’t want to get caught up in trying to be who other people want her to be. She just wants to be herself.

To them, the importance of being a content creator is all about reveling in your individuality and never letting up. 

“Believe in yourself. Take time for yourself and say, ‘I can do this.’ Taking the time to sit back and really tell yourself if this is what you want, you’re gonna find a way to do it — no matter how long it takes,” said Chambliss.

Edited by Katie Lin and Guillermo Molero