Beyoncé's Renaissance tour is Ticketmaster's next big test. Fans are already stressed
News of Beyoncé's first solo tour in more than six years has her many fans celebrating — and stressing out about whether they'll actually be able to get tickets.
The singer announced on Wednesday that she will bring her Grammy-nominated album Renaissance to cities across Europe and North America between May and September, opening in Stockholm and ending in New Orleans.
Fans have been eagerly awaiting her return to venues since Renaissance dropped last summer, if not earlier.
Beyoncé's last solo tour was "Lemonade," though she performed with her husband Jay-Z on his "On the Run Tour II" in 2018. She took to the stage for the first time since at the end of January, when she headlined a private show at the opening of a luxury hotel in Dubai.
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The first round of ticket sales will open to members of Beyoncé's official fan club on Monday through Ticketmaster, which is already facing heightened scrutiny for its botched Taylor Swift presale in November.
Fans and lawmakers alike say Ticketmaster's problems run much deeper than the one concern, accusing it of being a monopoly (which its executives have denied) and calling for changes in the ticketing industry.
The company has apologized for the Swift presale chaos, which it blamed on outsize demand and bot attacks. Live Nation President and Chief Financial Officer Joe Berchtold told lawmakers at last month's hearing that "we need to do better and we will do better."
Many are wondering (and in some cases, doubting) whether sales will go more smoothly this time around. The BeyHive, as Beyoncé's fandom is known, is bracing for what could be another frenzy.
Fans are flooding social media with their simultaneous excitement and concern about the prospect of snagging tickets to the highly anticipated tour. Some are jokingly dissing Beyoncé to discourage potential buyers, others are poking fun at the pressure Ticketmaster is facing from devotees like themselves.
The stakes are high: Senators slammed Ticketmaster's market power at the hearing and have expressed interest in pursuing antitrust legislation, while the U.S. Justice Department is reported to be investigating its parent company, Live Nation — which Swift fans are suing over allegations of fraud and antitrust violations.
"Has Ticketmaster learned who run the world? Girls. Beyoncé. Taylor Swift. Fans. All of us are watching," tweeted Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a vocal advocate for antitrust reform and critic of the company's behavior (and no stranger to referencing song lyrics).
Ticketmaster doesn't expect to meet demand
Ticketmaster and Beyoncé also appear to be bracing for overwhelming demand, trying to prioritize her biggest fans and warning that some will inevitably be disappointed.
The North American leg of the Renaissance tour is using Ticketmaster's Verified Fan system and starts with an exclusive sale to BeyHive members.
That's presumably anyone who signs up for Beyoncé's mailing list through her official website (though some tweeted that the signup page had disappeared from the site after the tour announcement).
The Verified Fan system aims to get tickets to real people and away from bots and professional resellers, by having fans register in advance for their preferred shows and vetting them individually.
But just because you're verified doesn't mean you'll get a ticket. When demand is high, the company uses a lottery system to determine who gets an access code for the sale and who gets put on a waitlist.
"We expect there will be more demand than there are tickets available and a lottery-style process will determine which registered Verified Fans receive a unique access code and which are put on the waitlist," Ticketmaster says of Beyoncé's tour.
Taylor Swift's Eras Tour wasn't Ticketmaster's first controversy
Ticketmaster's Renaissance tour warning has echoes in the public apology its executives issued after Swift's Eras Tour presale.
At the time, it said more than 3.5 million people registered as verified fans, with 1.5 million chosen to buy tickets and the other 2 million placed on the waiting list. It sold a record 2 million tickets on the first day of presale, but ended up experiencing more technical issues on the second day before canceling the general sale altogether.
Swift said in a statement of her own that she had been assured multiple times the company was prepared for the demand.
"It's really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties, and excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse," wrote Swift, who has been otherwise quiet about the issue (while her fans have been extremely vocal).
While company executives blamed bots, Ticketmaster's critics say their issues with the company go far beyond what happened in November. Artists like Bad Bunny, BTS, Bruce Springsteen and Harry Styles have had issues with ticketing too, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., told Morning Edition before the hearing last month.
At the hearing, lawmakers from both parties, smaller entertainment company executives and a musician spoke about how the lack of competition in the ticketing industry hurts artists as well as fans. They fear that will be the case as long as Live Nation remains both the dominant concert promoter and ticket platform in the U.S.
Beyoncé fans "have reason to be concerned," says Daniel Avital, chief strategy officer for CHEQ — a cybersecurity company focused on protecting businesses from bots.
"If a scalping attack of these proportions occurred once on Ticketmaster, it is likely to occur again," unless more robust security measures are put in place, he told NPR via email.
What to know if you're looking for tickets
Ticketmaster seems to be running things a little bit differently this time.
It's divided registration into three groups of cities (though it says people can register for multiple groups). Each has its own deadline to register for presale tickets, starting Thursday night and ending Feb. 16.
There are other steps fans can take to try to up their odds. Citi cardmembers can access presale tickets by registering with their credit or debit card number, and members of the Verizon Up rewards program can participate through its website.
The Points Guy offers tips for anyone trying to snag presale tickets, including: add your eligible card to your Ticketmaster account ahead of time, sign in early and from a strong Wi-Fi network if possible and only refresh the page in very limited circumstances.
If you feel exhausted at the thought of strategizing, you're not alone. Music writer Corbin Reiff put it this way in a tweet:
"Hey, remember when concert tour announcements were exciting news drops instead of harbingers of an impossibly complicated and bewilderingly expensive buying process that ruins the entire experience before it ever kicks off?" he wrote, thanking Ticketmaster sarcastically.
Dates and prices may change
It's not yet clear how much North American tour tickets will cost, and it's worth remembering that Ticketmaster's controversial "dynamic pricing" model adjusts the price of tickets based on consumer demand.
The first tickets for Beyoncé's five United Kingdom dates went on sale Thursday, and the BBC reports that standard prices were roughly the same as the 2018 tour.
It said customers of the telecommunications provider O2 were the first to get access, and some reported problems with its app and website. People who did buy tickets reported paying between the equivalent of $68 to $245 for standard tickets and up to nearly $2,940 for VIP "on stage" seats.
The U.S. and Canada are next. Be sure to double check the dates and locations of tour stops, as USA Today reports some have changed (and fans are speculating — and hoping — on Twitter that more may be added).
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