After Taylor Swift Eras Tour glitch, Texas bans bots that buy concert tickets

Taylor Swift accepts the "iHeartRadio Innovator" award at the iHeartRadio Music Awards in Los Angeles, California on March 27, 2023. Texas lawmakers passed legislation aimed at keeping bots from driving up ticket sales to concerts. (Reuters/Mario Anzuoni, Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)

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For Texas Taylor Swift fans, karma is a bill being signed into law Monday that prohibits the use of bots to buy live event tickets online. The new legislation comes after millions of Swifties were unable to live their wildest dreams by attending the pop star’s Eras Tour.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 1639, proposed by state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, a Laredo Democrat, which stops individuals from using technology that allows them to bypass security measures in online ticketing systems. This includes tactics such as disguising the identity of the purchaser or allowing them to purchase more tickets than a website allows.

These methods were used rampantly when Eras Tour tickets went on sale last November, causing a meltdown for fans who waited for hours in jammed virtual queues. While many Swifties were able to purchase tickets, scalpers using bots were, too. By the end of the fiasco, most of the shows were sold out or had only bad, but pricey, seats left.

Texas lawmakers, deciding not to be the anti-hero, looked into the issue this legislative session. Lewisville Rep. Kronda Thimesch introduced a similar bill to Zaffirini’s in an attempt to quell fans’ bad blood, partially because her own daughter was unable to get tickets.

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Elizabeth Scala, a professor in the English department at the University of Texas at Austin, teaches a course on Swift’s songwriting. She said Swift’s unique relationship with her millions of fans and the anger from the ticket sales caused exactly the kind of situation that would spark change.

“The cult of the Swifties is incredibly interesting,” said Scala, who said she has been consumed by Swiftie culture. “Now you see senators on Capitol Hill talking about this. I find it kind of cute that legislators are basically acting upon their daughters’ frustrations.”

Scala said she isn’t surprised that Swift and her fans refused to shake it off, bringing attention to consumerism on this level.

“We’re at a stage of believing there is nothing this woman can’t touch and affect in some way.”

Sierra Greenslade was one of the anxious fans watching the ticket debacle unfold on social media while her friend waited in the ticket queue. After several hours of waiting, they managed to get tickets to one of the Arlington shows.

“I know that not all of our laws seem important, but they often protect us,” Greenslade said. “There should be systems in place for fans to buy tickets without having to deal with corporations and scalpers ruining it.”

It’s unclear how effective the Texas law will be in the short term. Lawmakers in other states aren’t out of the woods yet, but Scala predicted other legislatures would pass similar bills to pacify Swift’s massive fan base.

Texas’ senior U.S. senator, John Cornyn, said he is proposing a federal bill that would require ticket seller and reseller websites to disclose all prices and fees before purchases in response to the ticket fiasco.

Disclosure: University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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