Swifties vs. Scammers: While We’re Waiting

It seems to happen every time there’s a big concert in town, or every year as the Indians’ Opening Day is approaching. With fevered brows and fast-moving fingers, we sit behind monitors or clutching smartphones, trying to get our hands on coveted tickets the very minute they are released to the public.

During these times, we fans are often frantic and frustrated. Wrestling with WiFi, clicking and cursing as we sit in digital “waiting rooms,” watching in horror as our requests get timed out. Often, no matter how much you spent last year or how long you’ve been a fan or how badly you’re dying to go, you get shut out of admission. Sometimes, it seems, as soon as the tickets have hit the market, they’re gone. Snapped up by bots and scammers and people who use specialized software to buy entire rows of seats, just to turn around and sell them for an insane markup.

But with her upcoming Reputation stadium tour, pop star Taylor Swift is trying to change that.

In August, as Taylor released her love-it-or-hate-it single, Look What You Made Me Do, fans were invited to register for “Taylor Swift Tix,” an online portal powered by a service called Ticketmaster Verified Fan. Being the dedicated Swiftie I am, I registered first and explored later.

Engineered to keep out the scammers and the bots, the premise of the portal was simple—and brilliant. Fans could register once per email address and phone number, specifying which show they wanted to attend and how many tickets they wanted (up to six). After registering, they were placed in a digital presale “line” for tickets, along with other fans who wanted tickets for the same show.

The catch? You could complete simple tasks online to boost your spot in line. The better catch? You could come back daily to complete those tasks again and again—potentially boosting your spot every day. Depending on their complexity and reach, boosts were weighted by how much they impacted your place in line, and how many times you could complete them each day.

Once in line, you could receive boost points for activities like buying merchandise from Taylor’s online store, following her pages on social media, posting about her on your own social channels, and watching a slew of videos. The videos, which ranged from the official LWYMMD music video to an AT&T commercial featuring Taylor and a behind-the-scenes making of that AT&T commercial, could be watched up to 10 times every 24 hours.

Even the CD I purchased at Target earned me a boost in line—it came with a unique code inside that I entered online after I opened it.

The portal remained open until November 28, giving fans around three months to watch, buy, share and earn boosts—which we did. A lot. When it closed, your spot in the line was cemented, with the presale scheduled for the following Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, December 5—7.

That Saturday, December 2, each fan received an email with a one-hour window during the three-day presale. During the time specified, you’d receive a unique, six-digit code via that you would then use to sign in and access the ticket sale.

Taylor was… not messing around with this, you guys.

The more boosts you had earned in line, the earlier your one-hour window in the presale was.

Weeks of painstakingly refreshing the same music video had paid off. Though it was late in the day, I had access on Tuesday, the first day of the presale.

That night, my code arrived via text at about 6:55 p.m., and I had absolutely no trouble logging in, choosing my tickets and checking out at approximately 7:02.

While it wasn’t perfect, I loved the approach Taylor took to ensuring her tickets ended up in the hands of fans. The Verified Fan portal made me feel like, to a point, I controlled my own ticket destiny. If I wanted to refresh the same AT&T commercial 10 times a day to hopefully land a better spot in line, I could. Or, if I had decided that I didn’t want to bother, I could have registered and walked away, knowing I’d get access later in the presale. The choice was mine—and it was nice to feel that way.

Next July, Taylor will be at FirstEnergy Stadium and I—along with four of my closest friends—will be there, too. We’ll be in amazing seats that were fairly priced and purchased pretty easily—no stress, no angst, no feeling like I paid a third party an arm and a leg to get them. (Are you listening, Indians? Because you probably should be.)

The third and final day of the Verified Fan presale is today. Good luck to the Swifties out there who are still working on getting their tickets.

  • BenRM

    I thought that I heard that Taylor Swift was dead.

  • JM85

    No that’s the old Taylor.

  • Chris

    Good for Taylor Swift and her business people. However, she’s not a saint for doing this.

    This is 100% a way for Taylor Swift to snag the market premium typically captured by brokers. 100%. In effect, it’s surge pricing. Analyzing the market price months ahead of time to sell fixed-price tickets to sell out (or maximize profit, more specifically) is an uncertain endeavor. If they charge too much, tickets may never be purchased in the first place. Brokers take this risk gobbling everything up at face-value.

    However now… Swift can charge a reasonable ticket price, but if a fan wants to really ensure he/she can get a ticket, they need to buy her gear, watch her vidoes, post about her. The more buzz and higher demand for her show, the more money her fans must spend along the way. Brilliant, but altruistic.

  • Chris

    All you know about me is what I’ve sold you, dumb f***.
    I sold out long before you ever heard my name.
    I sold my soul to make a record, dip sh**,
    And you bought one.

    Disclaimer: not a Taylor Swift lyric

  • BenRM

    Well, I hope the police are investigating.

  • BenRM

    I don’t think altruistic is the word you wanted to use there. Or maybe there was a “not” that got left out.

  • Chris

    I added “not at all”… my brain put it in there. My fingers didn’t keep up. It’s fixed.

  • BenRM

    I’ve been there, man!

  • Chris

    Just think how much you could charge for your ticket by selling to someone who doesn’t want to put up with that B.S.!

  • scripty

    Back in my day we just waited in line for a day or two. Weeded out the weak and the lame.

  • scripty
  • scripty

    About 45 days ago, the Foo Fighters presale for Blossom next summer hit. What a sh-tshow. Impossible to get tickets, and I had all the online sites up right away, I would guess there a majority of those tickets immediately placed online to those sites immediately within 30 minutes.

    I actually just said to hell with it and bought two tickets then and there b/c I didn’t want to have this hanging over me (constantly trying to find a good value and knowing I still had to do it) and in fear there’s some surge in pricing, so I basically paid another $60 premium to end the ordeal.

    People can only kvetch about the artists and groups like Live Nation/Ticketmaster so long. As a society we’ve done this to ourselves. I think analog or manual process will always keep the artificial inflation/resale market to the lowest form. But that’s a pipe dream so accept there’s no going back and pay the man.

  • BenRM

    Since there’s nowhere to put this yet, they just fired Sashi.

  • Saggy

    Listen to Bob Lefsetz’s most recent podcast with Nathan Hubbard.

    In fact, if you’re at all into learning about the music industry you should be a Lefsetz reader. He’s the best.

  • Saggy

    tell me something we didn’t already know!

  • BenRM

    You can save money by switching to GEICO?

  • Chris
  • Chris

    Surge pricing is an unavoidable economic reality. I can support cases where more of it goes to the artists and venues (and teams, players, etc).

    Don’t want to pay $40 to park? Take Uber
    Don’t want to pay Uber premiums once the game gets out? Take public transit.
    Don’t want to have someone’s elbows in your ribs while cramming into a bus? Walk.
    Live too far away to walk? Move closer and pay higher rent.

  • Saggy

    dang, i love her.

  • tsm

    Jim Taylor?, Lawrence Taylor? are you describing how fast one of the Taylor’s is?