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Taylor Swift performs during "The Eras Tour," on May 5, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.George Walker IV/The Canadian Press

Taylor Swift fans call it The Great War.

The name comes from a Swift song that some fans believe was inspired by the dystopian novel The Hunger Games, where the world’s overlords force teens to battle for survival.

Getting Taylor Swift concert tickets is a near impossible task. Some of us waited in front of screens from dawn to dusk, only to have the ticket deities – grinning like devils – give us the boot from the online queue. Some of us panicked and forked over a mortgage down payment for VIP packages. Some of us grabbed whatever tickets the website threw our way, no matter where the seats were in the stadium.

Some of us didn’t get anything at all.

I fall into the camp of folks who grabbed whatever they could. But it’s also going to cost me airfare to Italy. Let me explain.

I made the call long before she announced her one and only Canadian tour location.

RBC to offer Taylor Swift presale tickets for her six Canadian concerts, opening loyalty program to non-customers

In November, those who had registered for the U.S. tour presale swarmed Ticketmaster’s website to buy tickets. The site crashed under the weight of the demand, forcing them to wait for hours. Ultimately, two million tickets were sold, but 1.5 million preregistered fans were unable to scoop up tickets at prices that ranged from US$49 to US$449.

Even though the preregistration system was set up to deter bots and scalpers, tickets were posted on resale sites for thousands of dollars in the days after.

The debacle drew the ire of U.S. government representatives, with politicians calling out the merger of Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation Entertainment as a monopoly that should not have been approved. A few days later, Swift posted a statement on Instagram, saying that it “really pisses me off” that fans had to suffer “several bear attacks” to get tickets. The backlash prompted Ticketmaster to issue an apology.

Rather than try to buy tickets to a nearby U.S. concert, I had decided to wait it out. Swift’s tours had always come to Canada, and I hoped that the ticket system issues would be addressed by then.

In June, Swift announced her world tour, but there were no Canadian dates in sight.

On social media, Canadians raged over the lack of tour dates. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted at Swift, imploring her to bring her tour here.

At the time, Swift did not comment on bypassing Canada, and fans and music industry experts alike theorized as to why. Then, on Thursday, weeks after many Canadian fans bought tickets to her shows overseas, Swift announced six concert dates in Canada in November, 2024 – all located in Toronto at the Rogers Centre – along with nine new shows across three U.S. states.

When tour promoters decide where to host a concert, they consider the cost of producing the show in that market compared to how much money they expect to make from ticket and merchandise sales, according to Catherine Moore, adjunct music and business professor at the University of Toronto.

“They can put a pretty accurate estimate very early on in their planning of what the revenue will be from that show, because they know the capacity and they know the ticket prices,” Moore said. “Then they’ll decide that maybe they’re going to lose money in this market, but it could make sense.”

In the case of the Eras Tour, Swift’s team could have been considering a number of financial factors that explain the delay and relatively low number of tour locations in Canada. For one, Canada’s largest venues hold fewer than 50,000 spectators. In her U.S. and international tour, Swift is selling out stadiums that hold between 80,000 and 100,000 people, allowing her to bring in more money per show. With the capacity of the Rogers Centre, her six Canadian shows are the equivalent of three in the U.S.

Canada’s vast geography also poses a challenge for stage logistics, Moore said. The Eras Tour requires an estimated 90 trucks to transport the show equipment, and the wide distances between Canada’s major cities could be a costly hurdle to navigate.

Tickets for concerts in Canada already tend to be pricier than in other parts of the world. Earlier this year, tickets went on sale for Coldplay’s show in Vancouver – the band’s only Canadian stop. Fans criticized the prices, which were significantly higher than Coldplay’s show in nearby Seattle, Washington.

Concert dates also depend on the physical and mental ability of artists to sustain long, arduous tours, as well as the scheduling availability of the local arenas. Beyoncé included Canada in her tour, but held only two concerts in Toronto and one in Vancouver.

After watching the chaos with U.S. ticket sales, I decided in June that my best chance to see Taylor was to go global: There were nine shows in Britain, one in Poland, five in Australia, and … one in Italy? That could work. I haven’t visited my family and friends there in six years, so what better excuse than The Eras Tour?

I called up one of my best friends who lives in Turin in northern Italy. Within minutes it was settled – we would see Taylor Swift in Milan in July, 2024.

This is where things get complicated. Canadian Swifties, I offer you my notes on grabbing those tickets.

To weed out bots and scalpers, ticketing platforms gave fans a few days to preregister for the opportunity to be chosen for a code to access the presale.

I registered for three locations in Europe.

If you think that’s wild, consider that other fans registered for each international location using different e-mail addresses. Some have posted videos of Excel spreadsheets tracking the registration and presale process.

Two weeks later, I was wait-listed for Dublin, and the Britain-based concerts. Then, I received the e-mail about Milan: “Sei stato selezionato per partecipare alla vendita dei biglietti per i concerti del Taylor Swift.” Roughly translated: you have been selected as tribute, may the odds be ever in your favour.

I had received an access code for the ticket presale – the rough equivalent to winning the lottery to spend your own money. There was a chance I could get a ticket, but it’s not guaranteed.

Two of my friends in Italy were also selected, while my partner was wait-listed. With three presale codes in hand, we started doing our homework to beat the system.

I spent a week watching online videos of Swifties sharing their experiences in online presales – some said to log into the ticket platform from multiple browsers and devices while others warned that tactic would get you flagged as a bot. The best advice that I saw was to not waste time deliberating over seats; just take anything.

On the day of Milan’s ticket sales at noon Central European Time in mid-July, my alarm went off at 5:29 a.m.

I entered the online waiting room 30 minutes before the sale. On a conference call with my friends in Italy, we shouted at each other in panic once we got into the online store and clicked on ticket options, only to be told the seats were no longer available. As the minutes ticked by, more seats sold out. We were losing the battle.

In a stroke of genius, one of my friends clicked on the “limited view” category, meaning there would be an object slightly blocking our view of the stage. We waited as the page loaded and prayed that the tickets would still be available. “Ci sono i biglietti!” he said. There are tickets! Four precious tickets with an obstructed view, but we would be inside the stadium. What a deal.

With three minutes left on the timer that warned he would soon be booted out of the line and lose our tickets, he hammered his keyboard to enter our credit card information.

“Andata. Abbiamo i biglietti.” It was done. We had the tickets

Ten minutes later, the concert was sold out.

I wasn’t the only Canadian committed to the cause. A Toronto friend got tickets in Sweden; an ex-colleague is going to Liverpool. Scrolling through Tiktok and X, dozens of Canadian and U.S. fans proclaimed their success in dropping thousands of dollars to fly overseas.

Ultimately, I’m not confident that I would have gotten tickets to the Toronto shows. Swifties from across Canada – and those that missed out in the U.S. – will be vying for those tickets.

Next fall, you’ll find me listening to the concert from the parking lot of the Rogers Centre and passing out T-Swift friendship bracelets, like thousands of U.S. fans who lost the race for concert tickets last year.

But for now, I’m just hoping my vacation request for Italy will be approved.

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