Taylor Swift and Ticketmaster
team up to rip off fans

Taylor Swift has started the Taylor Swift Experience with Ticketmaster. Photo: GabboT

By Tim Smith

There seems to be an attitude in the pop music world that the more famous you are, the more you’re entitled to pick the pockets of your fans. No one is denying musical artist groupies, but a new scam between megastar Taylor Swift and the online ticket giant, Ticketmaster, has taken this to a new extreme.

Several months ago, both parties conspired to create Ticketmaster Verified Fan, a service that claims to make it easier for fans to get concert tickets. But there’s a catch—after registering for the service, her followers must be willing to promote Swift by purchasing merchandise through her site, viewing her videos, and singing her praises online. 

Ticketmaster’s site is calling it The Taylor Swift Experience, with the following explanation: “Taylor Swift is committed to getting tickets into the hands of fans… NOT scalpers or bots. So she’s collaborating with Ticketmaster to create an exclusive program to help YOU get the best access to tickets, in a really fun way.”

This “really fun way” asks fans (or Swifties, as they’re called) to buy Swift’s merchandise or promote her music on social media to earn “boosts” in the pecking order to obtain tickets. This is all in the hope that when tickets go on sale, fans have moved closer to the front of the virtual ticket line. Naturally, buying stuff from her online store gets you a lot more points than simply watching her music videos or posting a fan letter, but even that doesn’t come with any guarantees. 

Apparently, the more things you buy, the better your chances. You can also boost your odds by registering for the Taylor Swift mailing list, and referring friends to the program, but those don’t earn you as many points as buying a $45.00 t-shirt. 

Feedback for this program has been generally negative. Mashable.com ran the headline “Taylor Swift’s Ticketmaster Scam is Why She’s Capitalism’s Favorite Pop Star.” Other critics were just as harsh, referring to it as “pay-to-play,” and “almost a Ponzi scheme.” Here’s a sampling of Twitter posts from Swift’s fans:

“Taylor Swift is providing earlier access to tickets to fans who buy multiple copies of the album. This is how she’s going to sell 1m copies.”

“Given that a large section of her fans will be kids badgering their parents, this is disgraceful.”

“Taylor Swift is a scam artist.”

There has been a longstanding practice of bundling albums with tickets to increase album sales. When Swift released her latest one, “Reputation,” there was more to it than just buying a CD to secure a spot in the virtual ticket line. Swifties were encouraged to pre-order it from big box retailers, like Target, or from her online store. Then, they were informed that if they’d like a guarantee that they’d receive it on the day of its release, they’d have to fork over an extra $48.03 to ensure timely shipping, which brings the cost of one CD purchase to $63.03. This supposedly gave them a competitive edge in getting tickets. One thing that wasn’t mentioned is that UPS is co-sponsoring Swift’s upcoming concert tour. 

Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour will hit Ohio in July 2018 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. I hope you’re sitting down for this next part. Tickets start at $203.00 for the crow’s nest, and top out at $4,140.00 for front field seats. Those prices do not include Ticketmaster’s various service fees or taxes, and parking is additional.

The Dayton City Paper conducted an online survey of other popular concert attractions to compare what the competition is charging. Here’s what we found. 

According to stubhub.com, if you want to see comedian Dave Chappelle when he appears at the Hollywood Palladium in LA, tickets start at $135.00, with parking passes going for $22.00. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s recent show at Wright State University started out at $61.75 per seat. When Martina McBride showed up at Troy’s Hobart Arena, attendees paid $40.37 to $52.48 for the pleasure of her company. Maroon 5 is asking $106.00 for tickets to their Mandalay Bay Resort concert in Las Vegas. 

Ticketmaster’s site states that almost every ticket sold is actually owned by one of its clients, who typically set the face price. In exchange for the rights to sell tickets, Ticketmaster gives its clients a portion of the fees collected, such as the service fee, order processing fee, and sometimes the delivery fee. There may also be a facility charge collected if the venue sets one. 

Let’s put this in terms we can all relate to. I recently purchased concert tickets at the Schuster Center through Ticketcenterstage.com. I was hit with a service fee of $22.77 per ticket, plus a $7.95 delivery fee. These were e-tickets, which I received within minutes of placing my order. I didn’t understand why there was such a hefty surcharge, since they didn’t have to print them or mail them to me. The final breakdown was a face price of $69.00 per ticket, plus $22.77, plus $7.95, for a grand total of $99.72 for a seat in the back row of the second balcony. It’s true that there isn’t a bad seat in the Schuster Center, but seriously? 

At least the show was good. 

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Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at TimSmith@DaytonCityPaper.com

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