With its first show set for Tuesday evening at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale Arizona, Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour has officially reached crunch time for ticket sales. In a last-ditch effort to fill the house, all resale tickets for her first leg of the tour have been removed from the primary sales platform on Ticketmaster.com, to keep tickets which have already been sold from competing with unsold inventory that will otherwise be empty when the curtain goes up.
Billboard reports the switch was flipped on April 27 under pressure from Swift’s camp, removing the resale tickets from primary display and reducing prices in several markets. Resale tickets remain available on both TicketsNow.com – which is owned by Ticketmaster – and other resale marketplaces. On TicketClub.com, for example, tickets for Tuesday’s performance begin at a total of $126 for a pair in the 400 level, less than the asking price currently on the primary website.
Swift’s tour will likely be a topic of conversation throughout the summer and beyond for the controversial methods used in its marketing and ticket sales process. Fans were corralled into a monetized version of Ticketmaster’s “Verified Fan”, which offered boosts for one’s place in line through purchase of merchandise, or repetitive watching of videos and sharing of Swift-related things via a user’s social media accounts. Prices were strikingly high when they went on sale, which left huge chunks of many stops on the tour unsold. Now, prices are dropping, and negative headlines are piling up for the strategy, which is easy to argue exploited Swift’s most dedicated fan and is now offering the most casual of observers a chance to grab the same or better seats at a much lower price in the last minutes before the shows go off. Some are even seeing freebies distributed through back channels.
One side of the strategy was a smashing success – the tour will land Taylor and her management huge amounts of money. Billboard says the tour will be the highest-grossing of Swift’s career, with some $300 million in projected sales. But the lukewarm sales and the negative headlines generated by the desire to squeeze every penny out of the shows may warn other artists off a similar strategy in the future.
“Artists are seeing the money Taylor is bringing in, but they’re also seeing the negative headlines,” one national promoter tells Billboard. “If it’s a choice between making more money or avoiding bad press, some artists will take less just to ensure tickets quickly sell out and there isn’t any chatter about soft demand.”
Currently, resale is shut down (or, rather, restricted to TicketsNow rather than co-displayed on Ticketmaster.com) for all of the tour stops through May and early June. The first date one can see resale tickets on the full seat map is June 30 in Louisville, but even then, one needs to click to display the resale tickets, rather than the standard process of having them display by default when the page loads.