After literally months of purchasing merchandise, watching videos, tweeting about UPS trucks, and anything else that could get them to the front of the line in a monetized “Verified Fan” program, the first batch of Taylor Swift superfans got a chance to score tickets to the singer’s 2018 U.S. tour on Tuesday. As has become the norm, the day was filled with complaints about delays, jaw-dropping ticket prices, and finally, joy at scoring the chance to see a favorite artist perform. And there’s still three days left on the presale.
For those unaware, Taylor Swift used the new Ticketmaster Verified Fan system to prioritize how fans would be able to purchase tickets to her upcoming tour, which currently has 33 dates across the United States, beginning with a May 8 show in Glendale, AZ. There are also 2018 dates in the UK and Ireland, as well as a swing through Australia and New Zealand in the fall. Fans were able to purchase merchandise and albums, as well as talk about the singer on social media and watch her videos online to show their fandom and get better access to the earlier days of the process. Tuesday saw the first groups go live, with additional groups allocated spots on Wednesday and Thursday before the general public gets a crack at tickets next week.
While everyone who received codes for Tuesday’s batch of presales, there was no shortage of drama as the day unfolded. Prices were one issue for fans – most of whom had presumably already dropped significant chunks of change on merchandise to score their spot near the front of the line. Tickets range from $50 for the upper limits of the stadiums on the tour to $250 for floor level. VIP options and the “pit” range from $800 to $1,500 per seat.
(H/T to Hollywoodlife.com for putting some of the below on the radar. Others were found via a simple Twitter search on “Ticketmaster”)
— Alyssa Pelish (@AlyssaRelish) December 6, 2017
Now that I’ve seen ticket prices for the #reputationStadiumTour, I’m glad I got Wednesday instead of Tuesday. I now have 24 hrs to sell my car, auction off all of the organs I don’t NEED on the dark web, rob a bank, take out a loan, & donate plasma. ? #TaylorSwiftTix
— G A B E ? (@gabeonidle) December 5, 2017
RIP MY BANK ACCOUNT IMMA BE IN DEBT FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE BUT ITS WORTH IT TO BE AT THE END OF THE CATWALK FOR MY BAE @taylorswift13 @taylornation13 @LFFStadium @Ticketmaster @scottborchetta @BigMachine #reputationstadiumtour pic.twitter.com/wFqh5d5zt3
— LACI MET TAYLOR ? (@oncebelonged2me) December 6, 2017
— Taylor Swift (@serpentswift) December 6, 2017
ticketmaster deadass said the price range was $50-$250… and now tickets are $500-$1500 what the actual fuck
— sam (@tinyballerini) December 5, 2017
I used to pay $600 for seats next to stage. They were $1500 and that is with hundreds of boosts and first day access to tickets. What a scam! Stub hub was cheaper!
— Celeste (@Celeste10841330) December 6, 2017
And so on…
There were also no shortage of panicked tweets from those who had been told to expect a code in a certain window, only to wait far beyond that point for any sort of news. For this sale, Ticketmaster had informed those receiving a code of a particular hour they could expect to purchase. Unfortunately, a lot of those times appeared to be way off.
Fans on pins and needles took to social media while they awaited their prize.
ticketmaster: you will get your code sometime within the hour
me 8 minutes into the hour: ok well obviously im never gonna get a code and i won’t get to see taylor ever again in my life and im gonna die alone
— jess ? (@jesshakeitoff) December 5, 2017
— kate! (@13kateswift) December 5, 2017
ANSWER ME. FIX THIS. NOW. THIS IS RIDICULOUS AND I AM HIGHLY DISAPPOINTED. pic.twitter.com/dbsOj1qJkn
— Kelsey is…Ready for Swiftmas?❄️ (@kelseykutiexo) December 5, 2017
WILL THERE BE ANY SEAST RELEASED TODAY?!! WTF???? pic.twitter.com/xhoVOrNkDN
— ❁sara (@saratheswiftie) December 5, 2017
It’s 9pm I am a verified fan who spent hours and hours, was told my code would come between 4-5 pm for Columbus Ohio. I have received nothing! ???
— Alison Vee (@AliVeeMe) December 6, 2017
NOT EXCITED about this who damn process you all have in place. Go back to the old damn way. We have lives and dont have time to sit by our computers and buy tickets from you.
— G (@mumma_greg) December 6, 2017
There also were not shortage of issues regarding the actual accounts themselves.
Can you give a girl any help over here?? It keeps saying my account doesn’t match but I only have the one account! I spent a lot of money on merch and time doing boosts to miss my priority time slot!!!! @TicketmasterCA @taylornation13 @taylorswift13
— Cheyenne Hunter (@Cheyllama8) December 6, 2017
i’m upset because it says my account information doesn’t match and i need to use the same account i did for the verified fan registration but i did ?
— emily (@emmalaylaysims) December 6, 2017
— Kristyn Francis (@kristyn_francis) December 6, 2017
Ultimately, according to Ticketmaster, things went exactly as they’d hoped for the day. Ticketmaster VP David Marcus told Billboard that all fans who were verified in the program (including, shockingly enough, the author of this post, who registered on a lark and is not particularly fond of Ms. Swift’s music, but apparently will get a shot to pick up some tickets on Thursday) will be able to purchase tickets this week. The pace of sales were deliberately slowed to a crawl because of how the prioritization model worked, allowing individuals to purchase at their pace, with codes going out in the order designed, but later windows meaning nothing in terms of which tickets a user might be able to purchase.
“Contrast that with a typical on-sale,” Marcus explains. “At 10 a.m., the doors open and everybody who’s interested comes crashing in at the same time. We go into defensive mode” — fighting off bots and scalpers who try to manipulate the queue and buy up tickets in bulk.
The “slow ticketing approach” turns that “completely inside out,” Marcus says, adding, “the people at the beginning are going to have the most choice and selection, and we’re going to keep that pace of shopping consistent over the six-hour period,” which can be extended another two or three hours if needed.
Tour promoter Louis Messina also spoke to Billboard about the process, brushing off all criticism of either price or anxiety it caused.
“She is a game-changer and what she is doing is revolutionizing the way tickets are going to be sold in the future,” he tells Billboard. “By the time all the tickets are sold next week, I’ll be celebrating Taylor’s birthday with a cocktail in my hand and sold-out concerts all over the world.”
It makes perfect sense that the gatekeepers would be pleased about how things were progressing on the sale – they expect to sell some 3 million tickets for the performances across the globe, at prices that will wring every penny from fans (and their parents in many cases), after having secured a mint from fans who bought their way to the front of the line in the first place. And there’s presumably a minimal defection rate from the purchasing process, even with the eye-watering prices, because these superfans have already invested so much in the process before even getting to the virtual box office window.
Time will obviously tell how this will play among the ticket-buying public in the long run. And we’ll keep an eye on things for Thursday, when we expect things will also get frantic as those at the back of the line (including yours truly) pick over the scraps of what’s left for the presale.