“A surge in activity on any IT service can cause it to be unavailable to some or all of the people trying to access it,” Tracy Weber, office of information technologies (OIT) assistant vice president, told the Observer.
Taylor Swift fans across the tri-campus helped generate the 3.5 billion system requests on Ticketmaster’s website on Tuesday, Nov. 15, causing hours-long delays for Swifites jockeying to purchase presale tickets for Swift’s sixth headlining concert tour, “The Eras Tour.”
Swift hasn’t gone on tour in five years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since her 2018 “Reputation Stadium Tour,” the singer-songwriter has released four studio albums including “Midnights” which came out in October 2022. Swift was supposed to go on tour for her album “Lover” but cancelled due to the pandemic.
Notre Dame junior Jillian Brunner, a self-described “uberfan” with two Ticketmaster accounts, spent seven hours waiting to secure tickets on that mid-November Tuesday. Sales commenced by venue time zone at 10 a.m. for verified fans.
“I went to the library. I had one Ticketmaster account on a MacBook and one on the desktop computer, and my friend had his, one on his MacBook and one on the desktop,” Brunner said. “I was skipping all my classes, but I had to go TA at [2 p.m.], so I left my computer with [my friend]. He ended up getting one date when I was gone.”
After hours of site glitching, Brunner managed to pick off tickets for the two concerts in Mile High Stadium in Denver on July 14 and 15, doling out almost $500 in the process. Brunner expressed her frustration with Live Nation Entertainment’s Ticketmaster.
“Ticketmaster has a monopoly on everything. So they suck,” she said. “They take advantage of people, and their fees are almost as expensive as their tickets — it’s so stupid. Something needs to change.”
Brunner added that the “same thing” happened when concert tickets came out for Harry Styles’ ongoing tour, “Love On Tour.”
“When Harry Styles tickets went on sale, it was the same issue. It’s the same problem every time,” she said. “The demand is so high for some artists that Ticketmaster can’t handle it, but I don’t know who could handle it. It seems impossible.”
Notre Dame junior Jessica Wysocki, a Taylor Swift “Twitter stan,” bought a “Midnights” vinyl to guarantee a presale ticket line boost.
“That’s my big Taylor Swift collection — I have all of her vinyl,” Wysocki said. “I had the line boost which made it more likely that I would get verified. I signed up for the verification a long time ago. And I got it, but none of my friends got it. We all signed up, including my parents [and] none of them got it. So, I’m pretty sure the line boost is why I got a presale verification code.”
Wysocki was prepared for a hectic day on the morning of Nov. 15, but she said the fiasco exceeded her “expectations of bad.”
“I went to my first class, plugged my computer into the outlet and I just sat there. We had a review for an exam, but I didn’t care… immediately when [10 a.m. struck], I hit the button to be in the queue [and] there must have been thousands of people ahead of me,” she said. “We put a hotspot on someone’s phone and moved my computer across campus, so that I didn’t lose my spot in the line. About six hours later, I got in.”
Though happy to get a seat, Wysocki said it was disappointing to learn about so many diehard fans missing out on ticket opportunities.
“I have a lot of friends on Twitter … that couldn’t even get tickets for their young daughters, and it was unfortunate,” Wysocki said. “I would say Ticketmaster had an upper hand in this.”
Weber, drawing from Notre Dame’s own experience responding to spikes in network traffic, e.g., during class registration and football Saturdays, said a “well-designed IT service” will anticipate peaks and have the ability to scale up to meet the demand.
“There’s complexity to this because all aspects of the service need to be able to scale. It can also be expensive to build in all this flexibility to IT service components like servers, software and networks,” she said. “Even with autoscaling, supporting [millions of] requests in such a short time is very difficult to handle.”
Contact Peter Breen at email@example.com.