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.