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Hey, Swifties: you aren’t the first to curse Ticketmaster. The Pearl Jam Ticketmaster battle had us rooting for our favorite band years ago.

 

Now the battle cries are having a resurgence, thanks to Taylor Swift’s latest tour announcement. Fans last week waited in the presale queue for hours, only to be kicked to the back of the line. The situation was such a mess that Ticketmaster was forced to postpone the general on sale on Friday, which only stoked the ire of Swifties.

 

This is nothing new. Just a few months ago, Bruce Springsteen fans trying to purchase tickets to his first tour in years experienced frustration. Ticketmaster’s “dynamic pricing structure”–kinda like surge pricing for ride share services–saw ticket prices reach upwards of $5,000 per ticket. Springsteen has since spoken out about the kerfuffle, but to what end? Superstars like Springsteen and Swift have the power to change the current ticketing dynamic. They just need to look back a few years.

 

Revisiting the Pearl Jam Ticketmaster Battle

In 1994, Los Angeles Times investigative reporter Chuck Phillips reported in a series of stories that Ticketmaster was price-gouging Pearl Jam fans. And they were. The band was livid to learn that a service charge had been added to tickets to a pair of benefit shows they performed in Chicago. This led Pearl Jam to attempt to organize a tour outside of Ticketmaster’s sphere of influence. This was a difficult undertaking, as the ticketing giant had exclusive deals with the majority of major venues. Pearl Jam failed in getting their tour off the ground, but they succeeded elsewhere.

 

An investigation into Ticketmaster’s practices by the United States Department of Justice just happened to coincide with Pearl Jam’s battle, so Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard of the band were invited to testify in front of a subcommittee in June of 1994. I’ve shared that footage below, along with some news coverage of the story at the time.

 

In the end, Pearl Jam just weren’t big enough to move Ticketmaster in a direction that was better both for their fans and for music fans in general. But I’d argue that Bruce Springsteen and Taylor Swift are. The question is: what, if anything will they do?

 

  • Pearl Jam on Capitol Hill

  • Pearl Jam on CNN

  • Pearl Jam on MTV News