Changes to U2.Com Presales Coming?
Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2017-09-28)
UPDATE: October 24, 2017 – all mentions of FanScore have been removed from the U2.Com terms and conditions as of today. The section now reads, “Depending on the presale ticket program, you may not have the same access to presale tickets as other members.” This has always been the case with the two fan club groupings (Last tour it was “Red Hill” for longtime members, and “Wires” for new subscribers). The article below has not been altered but is as originally presented.
We’re all familiar with how U2.Com works when a presale comes around. You get emailed a presale code, or you find it on your profile page, and that allows you to enter a presale. Each subscriber gets their own unique code which can be used across multiple sales for up to a set maximum of tickets.
Things may be changing however, as if you go into your U2.Com subscriber page now, it now asks for your Mobile number. This does not appear to be fully implemented as it does not seem to accept longer mobile numbers. It also is not showing up in all accounts, but many subscribers are seeing this addition to their accounts at present time and have been for several days. Those who can see the information are seeing it on the Account Information page.
There is also a spot to check that you agree with receiving SMS messages:
I agree to receive SMS messages in order to participate in subscriber presales if and when the band goes on tour, and understand that I may not be a part of the first ticket presale opportunity without supplying this information.
Furthermore they’ve updated the terms and conditions relating to the website. The full terms and conditions are available here. But one line stood out for us in the new document, updated on June 6, 2017, that was not present before that time:
We may offer certain tickets or ticket packages, including presale tickets, as a benefit to fan club members. Depending on your rank based on our FanScore® technology, you may not have the same access to presale tickets as other members.
IMAGE: Taken from a U2.Com Profile Page
FanScore is a trademark that was filed by Live Nation in March 2016. We don’t know for sure what will be involved with that system, but it sounds familiar to other schemes that other bands have been using of late in the selling of tickets. We don’t know for sure what the program is, so these comparisons are purely based on the line above and the name of the program.
Depeche Mode in early 2017 announced they would have a presale where you had to claim a spot in a virtual line. Posting the event on social media, buying copies of the album in different formats, and inviting friends to join the presale via email would all move you closer to the front of your line in the city of your choice. A special reward for doing the most work to get to the front of the line? You got to meet the band before the show. The presale ‘race’ was hosted by Strobe Labs, which has since been acquired by Ticketweb, a subsidiary of Ticketmaster. In the case of Depeche Mode the program was city specific, and you had to choose what city you were wanting to participate in.
Twenty One Pilots recently used Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan Program. In this case fans register in advance of the presale, and then the registrations are reviewed and codes are distributed by text message prior to the sale. Fans are required to enter a significant amount of information to verify their identity. And the day after registration closed, fans had one hour to use their code sent by text message, before it was awarded to someone else. Unlike Depeche Mode, there were no activities needed to get higher in a queue, you just had to enter information upon registration. Ticketmaster then uses ‘data science technology’ to determine whether buyers are scalpers or fans. The Twenty One Pilots opportunity allowed you to enter for more than one show, and you did not have to specify just one venue as you had to do in the Depeche Mode program.
Taylor Swift is also using the Ticketmaster Verified Fan Program but in a way more similar to Depeche Mode. She’s taken things far beyond just answering questions to get ahead, which gives you a rating between ‘waitlist’ and ‘priority’. Each week there are new activities that you can do to boost your ranking. Current things to do to boost your score? You get a medium boost for using her Facebook frame, or watching her new video. You get a higher boost in rankings if you pre-order her album, and when you buy select merchandise from her online store. You also get further ahead in your standing from activities on social media, such as posting photos of UPS trucks decorated with her image. You can get a boost by buying multiple copies of her new album as well, up to 13 copies will each give you standing. Like the Depeche Mode program, in Taylor Swift’s case you had to choose which city you were wanting to attend, and there wasn’t an option to choose multiple cities.
Amplify had an interview with Ticketmaster’s Chief Digital Officer, where he discussed the Ticketmaster program.
“People will come in and register. They will give their first name, last name, email, Facebook ID.” he said, joking, “They’ll write a ten-page essay, provide DNA. They’ll do anything to give themselves an edge in getting tickets for what they are a fan of. We take that information and behind-the-scenes we run our machine learning which scores those users,” he said. “It tells us the likelihood that the person is going to attend that show. We’re taking all the data that we have of which (concerts) this person attended and which ones they didn’t.” Based on their fan score, people will get a code that they can then use for a specific presale which prevents them from fighting with bots to get good seats.
Other acts using variations on the system include Bruce Springsteen, Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles and the Broadway show Hamilton. The system is gaining in popularity, and it seems that Live Nation may be getting into the game with their “FanScore” technology, but acts will have to be careful of what they ask fans to do, as Swift’s “verified Fan” program has brought controversy over rewarding fans for buying multiple copies of albums, and merchandise in order to get a better ticket.
As we mentioned above there is little information about Live Nation’s “FanScore” program. There are other unrelated programs out there using the FanScore name, but these are not Live Nation endeavors. In fact one of the few actual results when searching for this name in relation to Live Nation, is the terms and conditions page at U2.Com. The Ticketmaster Verified Fan Program is a separate program, as was Depeche Mode’s program through Strobe Labs, and in the cases mentioned above access to these programs did not require a subscription purchase. It remains to be seen if the FanScore program will be similar but the mention of ranking presale access has brought these other programs to mind. The document has also not been updated since June 6, 2017, so it may be refreshed when a new tour is announced. How do you feel about these types of ticketing systems? We have set up a poll on Twitter in which you can share your opinion.