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Adele’s Ticket Sales Strategy, Looking to Stop Scalpers, Draws Criticism (and a Lot of Fans)

Any doubts as to demand for Adele's upcoming 2016 tour in support of 25 exploded this week, at least in the U.K., where the total allotment of tickets available in a what one observer termed as a…

Any doubts as to demand for Adele’s upcoming 2016 tour in support of 25 exploded this week, at least in the U.K., where the total allotment of tickets available in a what one observer termed as a “messy” pre-sale sold out yesterday in about four hours on adele.com.

The pre-sale was orchestrated by Songkick, a U.K.-based artist discovery platform which merged with direct-to-fan ticketing company CrowdSurge in June of this year. In an effort to hamper secondary market ticket sales — or “touts,” as they’re known in the U.K. — Songkick sold Adele’s 40 percent allotment of tickets for her upcoming U.K. leg, which begins Feb. 29 — March 1 at the SSE Arena in Belfast. No reports have come forth on how today’s pre-sale for the European leg went.


But the U.K. pre-sale is surely a barometer of the extreme heat surrounding the Adele tour. A source at Songkick confirms to Billboard stats that appeared in a story in Music Business Worldwide, that more than 500,000 fans registered at adele.com for a chance to purchase tickets, and that 57,000 tickets were sold to the 12 shows that were put on sale for the U.K. run. The source adds that they believe Songkick and Adele’s management team achieved a 50 percent reduction in secondary market sales by screening known resellers during the registration process and by continuing to void tickets that do appear on secondary sites.

Despite its success at the stated “zero tolerance” goal, the pre-sale was not without its glitches, as some fans complained of logistical challenges and “security breaches” whereby purchasers could see other buyers’ personal information while in the purchase process. Sources say that more dates that went on sale today experienced similar problems.

Citing the “extreme load” of the presale, Songkick downplayed the incident, issuing a statement that reads, in part, that “at no time was anyone able to access another person’s password, nor their payment or credit card details (which are not retained by Songkick).”

But others slammed Songkick’s handling of the presale, with one source familiar with the situation telling Billboard: “Management took a huge gamble with an unproven system on the biggest artist in the world, and it absolutely collapsed in their face.”

The public onsale for Adele’s 36-date U.K/European tour begins Friday morning, and will be handled by a variety of ticketing companies as allocated by promoters and venues, including See Tickets, Ticketmaster, AXS, and Eventim.

North American dates are expected to be announced soon. Rather than cutting a global tour promotion deal, Adele, management company September, and agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment are working with promoters on a market-by-market basis, and sources say some of those deals are still coming together. While tour reps have said that they expect the dates to be announced and on sale in North America before Christmas, the window is getting tighter, with only two more weekends available. Ticketmaster will ultimately move the vast majority of Adele tickets in North America, based on their market dominance and contracts with arenas.

As for whether the pre-sale tactics really put a dent in the secondary market, one industry veteran points out that the public on-sale is the true test, telling Billboard, “You can damn well guarantee when this thing goes on public on-sale at the end of the week, there are going to be lots of tickets on StubHub.”