1994: A look back at when Pearl Jam took on Ticketmaster

After canceling the public sale of tickets for Taylor Swift’s upcoming “The Eras Tour,” Swifties are bustling with fury in a renewed anger with Ticketmaster.

According to Ticketmaster, the cancellation was “due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand,” after it sold more than 2 million tickets on Tuesday.

Fans who were unable to grab presale tickets are angry and confused, especially when ticket scalpers started listing their tickets soon after they went on sale through a “Verified Fan” program.

Tickets for Swift’s Lumen Field show are going for as much as $18,000 each on StubHub.

Fans who were able to grab tickets were inundated with fees, including “service fees,” “facility charges” and “order processing fees,” making some cheap tickets cost twice as much.

Stories of Ticketmaster gouging fans are nothing new, as Seattle’s Pearl Jam discovered in 1994.

After playing a charity show in Chicago, Pearl Jam became upset when they found out Ticketmaster had added a service charge for the tickets. Even after complaining to the ticket giant, Ticketmaster refused to waive the charge.

In March 1994, in response, Pearl Jam sent a letter to promoters asking to perform at venues that would only charge $18 for a ticket and no more than $1.80 for service or handling fees, to keep tickets under $20 for their fans.

A portion of the fees that Ticketmaster charges go back to the venue, to maintain exclusive long-term contracts, in addition to paying some promoters, managers, agents and artists.

As a result of those contracts, venues around the country turned down Pearl Jam’s proposal.

Pearl Jam ended up canceling its summer tour in 1994.

In response, Pearl Jam made a complaint in a May 6 memo to the Justice Department, accusing Ticketmaster of being a monopoly that uses its long-term contracts with venues to “cement control over the distribution of tickets to concerts.”

The Justice Department opened an investigation and Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament testified before Congress on May 30, 1994.

“All the members of Pearl Jam remember what it’s like to be young and not have a lot of money,” Gossard said. “Many Pearl Jam fans are teenagers who do not have the money to pay $30 or more that is often charged for tickets today.”

Pearl Jam was supported by other bands of that era, including Garth Brooks, The Grateful Dead, R.E.M., Neil Young and Aerosmith.

A few days before the hearing before Congress, Ticketmaster was cleared of monopoly charges in New York, in one of several class-action lawsuits filed by consumers around the country.

In 1995, the investigation was closed without action. However, the Justice Department said it would continue to monitor the situation.