Taylor Swift may be one of the most popular artists out there, but the singer is facing some heat from fans and media alike as she ramps up for an album release and major tour.
Swift, famous for her wildfire pop success after beginning her career in the country genre, has “Reputation” set to come out in early November. Her first album since 2014’s “1989”, which sold more than 6 million copies and spent several weeks atop Billboard’s Hot 200 chart, Reputation saw its first single released over the weekend, further stoking fan anticipation.
That anticipation is being converted into big bucks by Team Swift.
Fans looking to catch the 27 year-old on her upcoming tour must register through Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program. The program allows the ticket giant and its artist partners to prioritize who gets access to presales, ostensibly to keep non-fans from scooping up the best seats and re-selling them. But the singer-songwriter’s team has come up with a unique twist to crank its profit margins even higher: encouraging fans to buy their way to the front of the line.
Once a fan has opted in (which requires a Ticketmaster account and tying your mobile phone number to your chances), they are shown their ‘current position’ in the virtual line. You kick off at “waitlist”, with a bar that goes to “priority”. You can boost yourself by doing a number of things – watching the “Look What You Made Me Do” video gives you “medium boost”, as does snapping a photo of Taylor Swift-branded UPS tricks with a particular hashtag to your own social media accounts (also known as giving out free advertising to a corporation). The “greatest boost” comes from spending money, however. Pre-order Reputation? Shop for tour merchandise? Those both come with “high boost”
As one might expect, the headlines haven’t been terribly kind to Swift, already a tabloid darling for turning high-profile relationships with gents like Jake Gyllenhaal, Harry Styles, Taylor Lautner, Joe Jonas and John Mayer into fodder for hit songs. Consequence of Sound called it a “controversial pay-for-play ticketing system”, while Engadget talked about how fans could “feed the Taylor Swift hype machine” for a better chance at tickets. Mashable went the harshest, refering to how “Taylor Swift’s Ticketmaster scam is why she’s capitalism’s favorite pop star.”
It should be noted that none of these actions promoting UPS, joining Swift’s email list, granting her or Ticketmaster personal data for future marketing purposes, or even buying merchandise, guarantee anything. Even if you get a presale link, you could find nothing available when you get to the onsale (via the custom link and code texted to your phone during the presale).
All told, it’s a cunning use of a new system to wring even more dollars out of the consumer in the name of battling resale.
Want to check out her new song? The video is below – though watching it won’t get you any boost – sorry!