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Adele Ticket Blowout Frustrates Fans, With Ticketmaster Taking the Heat

The long-awaited on-sale for Adele's tour in support of her blockbuster album 25 was greeted with "unprecedented" demand, creating frustration for fans unable to snag tickets but not, as was…

The long-awaited on-sale for Adele‘s tour in support of her blockbuster album 25 was greeted with “unprecedented” demand, creating frustration for fans unable to snag tickets but not, as was reported, swamping Ticketmaster’s system.

With a rapidly closing window of opportunity to get tickets on sale before the holidays, all of Adele’s roughly 50 shows went up at 10 a.m. local time Wednesday, creating a virtual mad rush for the online ticketing window. As is often the case, Ticketmaster is taking the heat as shut-out fans vent on social media, but when and how tickets go on sale is ultimately the call of the artist’s team, which dictates its strategy to promoters and the venues, with the latter being the client of the ticketing company. (Adele is booked by Kirk Sommers at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment and managed by Jonathan Dickens at September Management, neither of whom have responded to a request for comment.)


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Unlike Adele’s recorded content in 25, tickets are a limited resource, and the pandemonium around the artist’s on-sale is simply a matter of supply and demand. Adele has announced 50 arena shows in the U.S., which means a total inventory of roughly 750,000 tickets. Adele may sell that many copies of 25 the week ending Dec. 17, its fourth week on sale, and could sell nearly six million in its first month.

That’s a lot of Adele fans who’d like to enter the new year with Adele tickets in hand, but the modern concert industry being what it is, nowhere near 750,000 tickets went on sale Wednesday. Pre-sales, VIP, and various ticket holds for a wide range of constituents likely decreased that total by two-thirds, leaving tens of millions of fans trying to purchase what was probably less than 300,000 tickets available. The supply/demand quotient was way out of whack and led to longer-than-typical wait times and some less than optimum user experiences, as has been well-chronicled on social media. One insider tells Billboard that in New York, where six shows went up at once, four million people were in the virtual queue at on-sale, and Ticketmaster still sold out all six shows in less than an hour.

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Bottom line, Ticketmaster “did not crash and performed very well, in spite of truly unprecedented demand,” according to a source at the firm, who added that the systems were deluged by some of the heaviest traffic Ticketmaster has ever seen, and sold out its roughly 40 shows in under an hour, some in under 30 minutes. (Veritix and axs also have building clients on the Adele route). 

As expected, the on-sales were heavily “botted,” (automated ticket-buying “bots” that repeated attempt to buy tickets and utilize computer code to jump to the front of the virtual queue) and a Ticketmaster source estimates that more than 500,000 automated purchase attempts were blocked. Such efforts can also slow down the process on extremely high-demand shows, as the system attempts to shut out the resellers and process the legit fans in real time. On a related note, a source says that Songkick, which handled the pre-sales for Adele in North America, experienced none of the logistical issue it had in the U.K.; the strategy was tweaked somewhat in America, with Songkick filtering out suspected resellers on the front end, and then sending legit fans a unique code allowing them to attempt to purchase tickets.

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Ticketmaster’s secondary operation, TM+, is not involved in the Adele tour, which is primarily paperless and “will call” pickups only. Still, Adele’s is a conservatively-priced show, making it an attractive target for resellers, and other secondary sites, including StubHub, have a robust ticket inventory available. A quick visit to StubHub shows hundreds of tickets in virtually every U.S. market to be visited by Adele, all priced well above face value.

2015 Billboard Women in Music