In August, Taylor Swift turned heads (again) when she announced a collaboration with Ticketmaster’s new Verified Fan program. The widely reported reasoning for supporting Verified Fan was to get tickets into the hands of fans, as opposed to scalpers and bots.
Funny thing: in order to participate in #VerifiedFan, one needs:
- A verified email address;
- A cell phone number
- The ability to click on links
On last check, scalpers can definitely cover these three requirements and any high school kid with decent coding skills could make a bot do the rest. So, how can Verified Fan stop scalping? In fairness to Swift and Ticketmaster, it is probably making it a tad more complicated to purchase tickets, but its not eliminating the problem. I made this case to Randall Roberts when he interviewed me for an L.A. Times Article in August, but he did not explain what I thought VerifiedFan really was so I will do that here.
At a macro-level, with limited exceptions, revenues from touring are an artists primary form of revenues. We live in a world where in most cities, at any one time there are so many experiences to have, it can be distracting and sometimes you forget the one thing you really wanted to do, like see one of your favorite artists! Some thing that can help keep excitement and anticipation in play is a long-winded marketing campaign to keep fans reminded about an upcoming show. Display advertising and commercials are expensive an not always effective. So what if an artist can engage a fan from album release to concert date with a drip…drip…drip of targeted engagements. Enter VerifiedFan.
I signed up for Taylor Swifts Verified Fan program, and in the past six weeks I have been emailed or texted 2 – 3 times reminding me to click on links for videos and to check out Swifts fan merchandise. More recently, I was asked to make a purchase to enter an online contest. What we know from pro-resale media is that Verified Fan has some verified flaws. Most notably that participation in Verified Fan is a gate to the initial on-sale, but it does not guarantee a ticket.
In summary, the thing about TSwift (and Ticketmaster’s) amazing marketing machine is they know that avid fans love to hate on scalpers. From my perspective, Verified Fan is a pure-play marketing tactic and since every tactic needs some buzz, why not do it at the expense of an easy target; ticket resellers.