Fan club sites eliminate the middleman with ‘presales’
An article on the Boston Globe today discusses how pop and rock stars’ fan clubs have changed the way concert tickets are being sold. No need to say, they mention Music Today, Madonna, and her official fanclub, Icon.
“Tired of scalpers marking up ticket prices and frustrated with high service fees from brokers, many music acts are taking more control of their ticketing as a way to connect with fans. The biggest trend is for bands to offer tickets through their online fan club sites, with some charging annual membership fees. U2 charges $40, the Dave Matthews Band charges $35, and Madonna charges about $38.
The intent is to get tickets into the hands of diehard fans before the tickets go on sale to everyone else. Typically, bands hold Internet ”presales” to club members a week or two before a public sale, which is usually handled by broker Ticketmaster. But for fans, the clubs certainly don’t guarantee tickets. Nor cheap tickets either. Last year Madonna‘s fan site offered $700 VIP seats. But bands for the most part offer lower service fees and throw in discounts on merchandise and other sweeteners to promote artist-to-fan interaction without a middleman.
One concern is that some scalpers just join the fan clubs, which was a problem with a recent U2.com presale. But bands are making vigorous attempts to cross-check names, credit card numbers, and e-mail and postal addresses to weed out violators who may be buying tickets in bulk, as well as work with online auction site eBay to identify culprits.
”You can’t always make everyone happy, but we do the best job we can,” says Coran Capshaw, who manages the Dave Matthews Band and heads Musictoday.com, which handles fan sites for Madonna, Kenny Chesney, Britney Spears, and other top-name acts. Musictoday.com operates out of Charlottesville, Va., and employs 200 people who coordinate the ticketing and the discounted merchandise and other privileges (from CD samplers to special magazines) that come with the memberships.
Most bands can now only get 8 to 10 percent of a show’s tickets because they run up against tight contracts between Ticketmaster and the venues. John Pleasants, chief executive of Ticketmaster, said ticket presales have gained in popularity the last five years, in part because bands are trying to develop new revenue streams through their fan clubs. Some venue promoters dislike fan club sites. A Clear Channel Entertainment executive says a fan club presale can hurt the subsequent public sale of tickets because many nonmembers will assume the best seats are already taken. For that reason, Clear Channel in Boston, the executive adds, makes sure that many good tickets are still held for the public sale.”
From an article by Steve Morse. Read the full story on today’s Boston Globe.