The agony and ecstasy of snagging last minute Taylor Swift tickets

The agony and ecstasy of snagging last-minute Taylor Swift tickets at face value

(CNN) When Julia Thomas woke up at her home in Cleveland last Saturday, she spontaneously decided to drive 15 hours to the Taylor Swift concert in Nashville that evening, picking up her sister in Cincinnati on the way. But they were missing one thing: tickets.

Like so many Swift fans, she has When they went on sale last fall, she couldn’t get tickets at Ticketmaster, nor could she afford a four-figure sum Price tags listed for them on resale sites. However, about halfway through the ride, her sister found floor seating worth $350 after updating various Swift-focused Twitter accounts: Ticketmaster had just listed a handful of last-minute tickets at face value on its website.

“We were really lucky,” she told CNN. “We got to Nashville about an hour before the concert started.”

Thomas is one of many loyal fans who Closely monitor a number of Twitter accounts geared towards letting fans know when Ticketmaster releases a new batch of Swift Tickets after the first sale.

Ticket drops are nothing new. They are allegedly due to extra seating being added to a venue or tickets being returned. But those drops have become an obsession among Swift’s most devoted fans, who are struggling to find tickets for the artist given Ticketmaster’s general ticketing woes.

Ticketmaster is under scrutiny for rigging online sales of the megastar’s latest tour, At a time when it already completely dominates the live events industry, leaving few, if any, alternatives. In November, “verified fans” received a pre-sale code – but when the sale started, high demand brought the site to a halt and millions of Swifties were unable to get a ticket. Advance ticket sales for Capital One cardholders caused similar frustration – and then Ticketmaster halted sales to the general public citing “extraordinarily high demand” and “insufficient remaining ticket inventory.”

Julia Thomas, left, and her sister drove 15 hours to get tickets to the Taylor Swift concert that same day.

Testifying before Congress, Joe Berchtold, president and CFO of Ticketmaster parent company Live Nation, blamed bots in part for the ticket sales incident. He also stressed that Ticketmaster does not set ticket prices, does not determine the number of tickets offered for sale, and that “in most cases, venues set service and ticket fees,” not Ticketmaster.

Ticketmaster and Live Nation are is currently being sued by Swift fans across the country for “unlawful conduct.” The plaintiffs allege that the ticket giant violated antitrust laws, among other things. A preliminary hearing was held in March; Ticketmaster has denied the allegations.

Millions of fans are still unable to buy tickets. However, in recent weeks, Ticketmaster has been sending out more Verified Fan Codes to people originally selected from the pre-sale to buy leftover tickets. For people without codes, Ticketmaster also conducts routine pre-show ticket drop-offs.

However, it is not uncommon for thousands of fans to try to secure the same tickets at the same time. Sometimes the seats are bought by bots and scalpers and republished on third party sites like StubHub within minutes.

Ticketmaster did not respond to a request for comment on ticket sales.

But that doesn’t deter Swift fans. Some spend hours searching online for tickets and travel long distances to concert venues without a ticket in hand, even at the risk of heartache.

How to find ticket drops

Molly Ramsey, an 18-year-old fan from Bristol, Tennessee, said she recently came across the @erastourticks Twitter account, which frequently tweets about Ticketmaster deals. “My family [last weekend] “I took a chance driving the five hours to Nashville to see if we could get tickets at face value,” she said.

After almost nine hours of refreshing Ticketmaster, she secured four tickets just before the show started. “During the opening games we sat outside the stadium, but as soon as our payment came in, it was an out-of-body experience,” she said. “My sister started screaming and dancing.”

In a nod to Swift’s hit song “Anti-Hero” and the rush to find drop tickets, the Twitter account – which has about 22,000 followers – recently launched tweeted: “It must be exhausting always promoting the anti-hero aka @Ticketmaster.”

Molly Ramsey (left) and her sister snag last-minute concert tickets for Taylor Swift

A similar site, @concertleaks, has connected its 62,000 followers with last-minute Swift tickets. The account was originally set up years ago to post concert setlists, merchandise, and tickets for various artists, but has evolved to also help connect followers with ticket drops.

Other The @ErasTourResell Twitter account, which has 120,000 followers, has grown in popularity by working with resellers looking to sell their tickets at face value. The account is run by longtime friends Courtney Johnston, Channette Garay and Angel Richards. The 20-something trio aims to make Swift tickets as accessible as possible for fans without overpaying or getting scammed.

“So far we’ve posted between 2,700 and 3,000 tickets, all at face value,” the trio said in a DM conversation on Twitter. “It’s really rewarding to see these tickets go to real fans at face value when the resale market is insanely priced and people are making triple profits. It’s also been amazing to meet people who follow the account on shows, especially when they’re the sole reason for doing so.” We were even able to participate through our account.”

Between work and school, they spend hours sorting through the daily submissions to make sure the tickets are real. The group recommends buyers ask for video proof of tickets, only pay through Paypal Goods and Services due to their protection plan, and never pay more than face value. (They also said they don’t make any money from the process and only do it to help other Swifties, but they do have a Ko-Fi account where people can donate money for food or coffee.)

“Surprisingly, since we now know what a patchy screen capture looks like or what a fake or hacked email can look like, the verification process went extremely well and smoothly,” the group said. “It’s about noticing the smallest of details – what color you want an image to be, what link is clickable, where that link needs to take you, what message you want displayed at a certain point.”

But getting those tickets is not easy. After a ticket notification was posted on their Twitter page, many users say they never hear from the sellers, and it’s unclear how they choose a buyer from the hundreds of fans who have reached out to them.

“It’s definitely gotten harder the more followers we have,” the friends behind @ErasTourResell told CNN. “Some [sellers pick] based on the first direct message and mention, others choose someone with a touching story, so it’s really varied. It helps us to have our notifications turned on as we tend to give a little warning and banter before most tickets are released.”

Beyond Twitter, many fans are turning to sites like Reddit, including the R/Taylor Swift page, for play-by-play details on Ticketmaster drops. Some say they’ve seen her multiple times throughout the day, but most commonly around 30 minutes before a show begins. (Tickets started showing up an hour into the show.) Others recommend using Apple Pay to speed up the checkout process and avoid losing tickets when typing in credit card information.

A lesson in patience

Despite these massive efforts, not all fans Find happiness online.

Katy Blackman, 33, of Birmingham, Alabama, said she spent all day at a Nashville hotel last weekend freshening up the job site. Only once was she able to add a single ticket to her online shopping cart, but it was gone before she could check out.

Katy Blackman spent all day in her hotel room refreshing Ticketmaster in search of a same-day Taylor Swift ticket

Still, she made her way to Nissan Stadium that night, standing in the parking lot alongside hundreds of other unticketed fans to get inside. When the lights dimmed minutes before Swift took the stage, the crowd dispersed; She was almost the only one left, still refreshing for Ticketmaster.

“All my browsing and trawling through Ticketmaster and resale sites was useless,” she said. “But then, all of a sudden, a random girl came running up to me, seconds before she was substituted on, and said, ‘Hey, do you want to come in with me?’

The stranger had just snagged last-minute tickets and wanted to sell an extra. “A miracle happened,” Blackman said. “My new boyfriend and I sang every single song. We cried, danced and hugged. It was totally worth getting there.”