Since their introduction earlier this year, paperless tickets have become a high-profile option for artists who want to make sure their fans get the...

Since their introduction earlier this year, paperless tickets have become a high-profile option for artists who want to make sure their fans get the best seats in the house. For promoters and venue managers of arenas, the initial concern was the ease and efficiency in getting the fans into the facility without huge backed-up lines.

The first test of the system in a concert setting in Europe was Metallica’s show at the O2 Arena in the UK, which sold tickets exclusively using Ticketmaster‘s paperless ticket technology. More than 7,000 tickets were scanned or swiped in the first 45 minutes, with more than 17,000 fans with paperless tickets admitted in just over two hours. The September 15 concert was also the biggest gig ever played at the O2.

“We are delighted to announce that the launch of Ticketmaster’s innovative Paperless Ticket at the Metallica album launch went extremely well,” said Chris Edmonds, managing director of Ticketmaster UK, in a statement. “Fans using the Paperless Ticket were able to gain access to the event smoothly. The entire process was quick, secure and simple. This was the first time in Europe this ticketing technology has been used and both Ticketmaster and O2 staff worked extremely hard to ensure fans experienced trouble free access.”

Ticketmaster’s paperless ticketing system debuted in the United States this summer with Tom Waits’ tour of intimate venues. It has accelerated with the forthcoming AC/DC tour this fall, where up to 3,000 seats per venue were designated for the group’s fan club using the system. It is anticipated that more artists will utilize the service either for partial ticketing inventory or the entire inventory.

Despite the potential benefits of paperless ticketing, the system has one main pratfall. If the buyer is unable to attend the show for a legitimate reason, such as illness, the person can not transfer possession of the ticket — even to a friend or relative.

By Bob Grossweiner & Jane Cohen