About one hour after presale tickets went on sale Tuesday (Dec. 5) for Taylor Swift’s Reputation tour, Ticketmaster sent out a tweet telling fans the company was “experiencing a delay” and had “purposely slowed code distribution to ensure the best purchasing experience for everyone.”
The cause of the delay: Ticketmaster is only allowing three people on average per concert (there are 33 total shows in North America) into the purchase queue at a time to buy tickets.
“We can slow down the experience if people are taking longer to shop,” Ticketmaster’s head of music David Marcus told Billboard a few hours before Tuesday’s ticket presale for Swift’s “most engaged fans in the program.”
The company has spent the last few weeks sorting through and organizing ticket buyers, scheduling their one-hour shopping window to buy tickets starting at 1 p.m. PT and lasting until Friday evening, texting fans in waves, about 180 people per hour for each concert.
Fans who qualified to buy tickets early have a crack at “basically every available ticket in the stadium,” says Marcus. Only about 5 percent of those who signed up to be a Verified Fan got to participate in Tuesday’s sale. The remainder who qualified for the Verified Fan presale — by preordering Swift’s album, buying merchandise or sharing her tweets and watching her videos — will get a chance to buy tickets over the next few days. Tickets will go on sale to the public Dec. 13, Swift’s 28th birthday.
Afters fans complete their purchase, new fans are brought it, and Marcus said all fans scheduled for Tuesday will be able to buy tickets, which range from $49.50 for upper-level seats to $249.50 for floor-level seats, as well as pit tickets and some VIP tickets, priced between $800 to $1,500.
The sticker price of the top-tier tickets did draw some fan criticism on Twitter, while others complained about the delays in receiving their codes.
Tickets for the snake pit should be $800 minus the amount of times you watched Taylor eat cookie dough #TaylorSwiftTix
— Alex Luque (@SmokinAlLuque) December 5, 2017
— Lisa Curtis (@creek22) December 5, 2017
Still, others seemed pretty happy
— nOrms (@norma791) December 5, 2017
— Holly Howser (@Hollyy_Mariee) December 5, 2017
And this person even got the code early:
um so i got my code 45 minutes early and it was so easy and the website wasn’t slow at all and I HAVE TAYLOR SWIFT TICKETS???? this is the best feeling ever thank you @Ticketmaster !!! #reputationstadiumtour #taylorswifttix
— julia —— (@swiftliketayyy) December 5, 2017
Tour promoter Louis Messina, who said he himself was participating in the Verified Fan presale to see how it worked, said he wasn’t sweating the tweets.
“She is a game-changer and what she is doing is revolutionizing the way tickets are going to be sold in the future,” he tells Billboard. “By the time all the tickets are sold next week, I’ll be celebrating Taylor’s birthday with a cocktail in my hand and sold-out concerts all over the world.”
Marcus said all fans who were verified in the program will be able to buy tickets this week. In total, Ticketmaster is forecasting sales of 2.5 million to 3 million tickets for the 44-date tour (including stops in the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand).
Prior to Tuesday’s presale, Marcus said he expected things to move relatively slowly. Ticketmaster can handle sales of about 2,000 tickets per minute, but because the company plans to slow the queue, it’s processing the sale of about 18 tickets per minute, per show.
“Contrast that with a typical on-sale,” Marcus explains. “At 10 a.m., the doors open and everybody who’s interested comes crashing in at the same time. We go into defensive mode” — fighting off bots and scalpers who try to manipulate the queue and buy up tickets in bulk.
The “slow ticketing approach” turns that “completely inside out,” Marcus says, adding, “the people at the beginning are going to have the most choice and selection, and we’re going to keep that pace of shopping consistent over the six-hour period,” which can be extended another two or three hours if needed.
On Saturday night, fans were emailed the date and time they could purchase tickets, typically a one-hour window to buy up to six tickets in a city close to them. When the scheduled time arrives, fans are sent a text message with a code that enables them to buy tickets with their Ticketmaster account.
“There’s a lot of tickets but a massive amount of demand. It’s bigger than any program we’ve ever seen here by multiples,” Marcus says. “The level of complexity we’re facing is extraordinary, but we’ve got war rooms and teams of people set up. We’re going to deliver an incredible experience for her fans and do something no one’s ever done.”
Demand for the Swift tickets has been so strong that some fans are selling their Verified Fan codes on eBay for as much as $1,200. Marcus said fans should not purchase the codes from third parties, saying “it won’t work,” because each code corresponds to an individual Ticketmaster account and fans will find they aren’t allowed to use someone else’s code.
“I encourage everybody to not get too worked up, and definitely don’t buy any codes,” he explains. “It’s a waste of money.”