Ticketmaster North America EVP David Marcus has defended Taylor Swift against claims the superstar’s ticketing plan unfairly favoured her wealthier devotees.
The ticketing giant recently launched the Verified Fan scheme in a bid to keep tickets away from touts and bots by using algorithms to establish if customers are real fans.
Swift then put her own twist on the technology - Taylor Swift Tix - by offering participants the chance to engage in “boost activities”, such as buying official merchandise and streaming her videos, to improve their chances of buying tickets for her forthcoming tour.
“It’s up to the artist to decide how they want to order their pool [of verified fans],” said Marcus. “With Ed Sheeran, it’s first come, first served. Everybody [who is verified] gets a passcode and is invited in to buy a ticket. Maybe you’ll get a ticket and maybe you won’t, but at least you’re not competing against a scalper or a bot.
“Contrast Ed with Taylor Swift, who said, ‘My fanbase buys every single thing I put out, they watch my videos and they just want to be all-in; how can I build a campaign that rewards them for that behaviour?’ So we built a custom portal on top of the Verified Fan engine that orders that pool of people into a line, based on their level of engagement.”
He added: “It’s really easy for the press to take a shot at that and say, ‘Only the rich fans get in’, but that’s not actually true. Somebody who streams her video, shares on Facebook or Twitter and invites friends has just as good a chance of being at the head of the line as somebody who buys an album.
“There are going to be fans that take extreme steps to get to the front of the line, but for the most part there’s no difference between somebody who spends money on her music and somebody who spends their time promoting on her behalf. It’s just a way of getting people engaged.”