Wandering through Fan Clubs

Original Story by Cindy Rosenblum / @concertchick27 (2016-07-05)

The paid Internet “fan club.” I put that in quotes because a “fan club” used to have a very different connotation before the Internet. You joined, received a magazine, and possibly a “badge” and/or a membership card. You had to send a check or money order by mail. There may or may not have been a way to connect with other fans. These “fan clubs” in the days of yore were for true fans. If you were parting with your money to get something by mail back in the day, this was important!

Introduce the Internet. Fans could connect from all over the world for free with listservs, e-mail distribution lists, web sites, message boards, chats, etc. What could an Internet fan club offer that people weren’t already getting for free? Ticket access? A first shot at tickets worked for U2 with special passcodes for me for years. However, last year for the North American tour it was a fiasco to end all fiascos, which could be blamed on typical Ticketmaster troubles (which I could write about in a whole other essay). A “membership gift?” The U2 fan club has had some of the best fan club gifts around, but lately they’ve been losing steam. How many U2 books does one need? What happened to the CD’s of rarities? The latest gift, the serigraphs, were posh but not practical. When I opened them I saw that they were beautifully done and embossed, and they included a surprise 5th one, but the paint smell was so strong my whole living room stunk from it and I have tubes and tubes of posters I’ve acquired from concerts that I just don’t have the space to hang. This will just sit in the closet with the others. A coupon towards the band’s “merchandise store?” I rarely use those coupons because most of the merch I buy I get at the live shows. However, U2 has smartly just added some “web exclusives,” so I might be able to use the coupon this year. Let’s see how U2’s fan club measures up to some other Internet fan clubs that I belong to.


  • Cost (if you are already a member): $40
  • Membership Gift 2016: U2ie Tour Serigraph Collection
  • Access to “special website content”
  • Presale ticket access
  • A 25% off merchandise coupon
  • Dedicated U2 e-mail address (yourname@U2.com) – I’ve never used this
  • Exclusive contests


  • Cost: $40 for existing members, $45 for new members
  • Membership Gift 2016: Tote bag (an improvement over the t-shirts that came in limited sizes every year)
  • Exclusive website content
  • Presale ticket access
  • A 25% off merchandise coupon
  • Exclusive contests

The Sting fan club hasn’t failed me with tickets. I got a 15th row floor seat for the MSG Sting & Peter Gabriel show and good seats for past Sting solo shows. The only issue this year was that you were only able to get fan club tickets for ONE show. I wanted to go to a second show so I did the lowest tier VIP on that one.


Pearl Jam has two different kinds of memberships, Analog and Digital.


  • Cost: $40 USA Residents / $50 International
  • Full website access
  • Tenclub single mp3
  • Deep Magazine PDF
  • Members-only contest eligibility
  • Members-only merch discount events
  • Access to members-only merch
  • Access to Fan-Club only ticket pre-sales
  • Digital bootleg download code
  • Limited edition vinyl 45 Tenclub single
  • Limited edition hard copy of Deep Magazine
  • Limited edition membership item coupon code


  • Cost: $20
  • Full website access
  • Tenclub single mp3
  • Deep Magazine PDF
  • Members-only contest eligibility
  • Members-only merch discount events
  • Access to members-only merch
  • Access to Fan-Club only ticket pre-sales

It might appear that the Pearl Jam fan club includes a lot, but I have a problem with the way they do ticket presales. I’ve been a member for years and wanted to get a ticket to the show this year. ONE ticket. For myself. The problem is that you have to commit to buying TWO tickets if you want to participate in the fan presale. They don’t tell you what seats you are getting because it’s done by lottery, and you have to pick them up at will-call so you don’t find out until day of show. I wouldn’t have a problem with this if I could just buy one ticket this way, but since you have to buy two, I couldn’t participate because I’d be stuck with one extra and no way to sell it.

I did use a download code this year to get the bootleg of the show I saw, so that was free. If I wanted a physical CD it would have been around $18. I remember that the last time I renewed I got a t-shirt but that doesn’t seem to be included this year.


Don’t laugh! Yes, I’m a subscriber to Hall & Oates “All Access” club. I subscribed after I was frustrated with getting crap tickets on the sides of the floor all the time. I want center! Their ticket presales work out nicely. The only gripe I have about it is that for the first 2 hours you can only buy two tickets and if you want more than 2 you have to wait 2 hours, so most of the floor seats are taken up by then. Lame.

  • Cost: $29.95
  • Access to “special area of the website that includes behind-the-scenes photos and videos”
  • Chances to win backstage passes
  • 15% off merchandise
  • Special offers, contests
  • Exclusive audio & video
  • Opportunity to purchase special AAC tickets


I’ve been a member of Duran Duran’s fan club for years. In terms of ticket access I’ve done really well. I don’t like how they sell tickets sometimes (A GA standing VIP? I’m not paying $350 to stand with no meet & greet!!). They’ve also stopped doing meet & greets, which is another issue entirely. This year I managed to get 3rd row center at Barclays, which I was VERY pleased with.

They have different membership levels:


  • Cost: $35
  • Full Access to Duran Duran VIP community
  • Access to Presale Tickets
  • VIP Ticket Packages (including amazing seats, exclusive items)
  • Contests to win Meet and Greets, autographed merchandise, contests (including flyaway packages), listening parties
  • Exclusive Video, Photo, Written Content
  • Insider Info (Backstage candid photos and footage, insider news on shows or other happenings, email and promotions)
  • FAN2FAN Features (Personalize and customize your fan site, create your own fan blogs, journals, and photo albums that you can share with other members, participate in chats, forums, and private messaging.)


  • Cost: $79.99
  • Everything in Silver plus –
  • T-shirt
  • Power Bank for cell phones and digital products
  • Insulated travel mug
  • Keychain Bottle Opener
  • Fridge magnet
  • Post-It Pad
  • Grip “Roller Plus” Pen
  • Reproduction of Simon’s handwritten lyrics to “Pressure Off”

I’ve been doing the Silver level package. I’d only do the Gold if there was something REALLY cool in there that I wanted.

Madonna “Fan Pass”

I was never a member of the regular Madonna fan club, but when she tours there is a “fan pass” option. $20 gets you a presale code and a merch item (I picked a keychain last time). Legacy members have first shot at the presale. Two tours ago I did well with the fan pass, getting first row of a section so that there was nobody in front of me. For the last tour, I wasn’t too happy. I wasn’t familiar with the new seating sections in the new MSG so I wound up in the sky.


So how does U2’s fan club measure up?

Note: See written descriptions of each fan club to see what the other perks are.

From personal experience I would say that the U2 fan club is one of the better fan clubs out there in terms of the membership gift, but they do need to figure out a way to make the presales a better experience for legacy members with Ticketmaster. They also need to think of better fan club gifts – how about taking a poll of members or going back to the MUSIC?

The Pearl Jam fan club does offer a lot but their ticket presale procedure really falls short for people only wanting to buy one ticket. I understand they want to make it fair with the lottery, but they need to have an option for single-ticket buyers so we don’t have to buy on the regular Ticketmaster sale and risk a chance of being shut out. I managed to get a great aisle seat for my show in May but I heard tons of people couldn’t get tickets at all.

I’ve had good experiences with the Sting, Hall & Oates, and Duran Duran fan clubs in terms of buying tickets. That’s the #1 area where U2 could use improvement.

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