WHAT is Taylor Swift's "Reputation" worth? Not the jacked-up prices she's charging for concert tickets.
That's the verdict from ticked-off US fans, who are baulking at buying seats for the 28-year-old pop star's tour to promote her new Reputation album, citing stratospheric mark-ups and greedy sales gimmicks, reports the New York Post.
Tickets to Swift's 2018 shows in Australia went on sale on December 12 and are also yet to sell out. Prices range from $104.40 for D reserve seats to $818.05 for the "Snake Pit Package", which includes a premium general admission ticket and collector's box with "exclusive tour artwork and memorabilia".
"I paid US$150 (A$192) for my ticket with amazing seats for the 1989 tour," wrote one fan on Twitter. "Now for the same seats I have to pay about US$500 (A$640)."
A look at US Ticketmaster's interactive seat charts confirms that Swift's schedule of 33 dates for the North American "Reputation" tour has yet to produce a single sellout, from its May 8 launch in Phoenix to its October 6 finale in Arlington, Texas.
That's despite seats being available to the general public since Swift's birthday on Dec. 13. By comparison, all the dates on Swift's "1989" tour in 2015 "sold out within minutes," according to concertsandsports.com.
"Sales so far have been a mega disappointment," one music-industry insider told The Post. "There are hundreds if not thousands of tickets left for every show."
The stumble out of the gate is especially embarrassing given that the Reputation album sold more than 1 million copies within four days of its November 10 release.
lollll there’s so many seats left because prices are so crazy— liz khalifa (@AstoundingSwift) December 13, 2017
On top of high prices, some prospective buyers are getting irked by Ticketmaster's "Verified Fan" program, which required participants to register weeks before tickets went on presale, proving they were and bona fide fans and not bots looking to buy tickets for scalpers.
Ticketmaster, which has used Verified Fan for U2 concerts, Broadway musical Hamilton, Springsteen on Broadway and other big shows, told The Post the program tries to "provide fans with the most reliable access to tickets and combat bad actors that use bots that subvert that process".
But Verified Fan - which got rebranded to "Taylor Swift Tix" for the tour - has added a controversial feature called "boosts" that promises fans a chance to "improve [their] position in line to purchase tickets".
Some boosts were innocuous, such as joining Swift's official mailing list. But others cost money, such as pre-ordering the Reputation album, shelling out $50 for a T-shirt or purchasing the $60 snake ring that Swift wore in her Look What You Made Me Do music video.
"To get 'further in line' to buy Taylor Swift tickets she wants you [to] buy merch from her … this greedy snake," Twitter user "Q_Taryntino" fumed.
Music blogger Bob Lefsetz called Taylor Swift Tix "a tone-deaf scam" that amounts to "upselling with a theoretical benefit" rather than a guarantee of better seats.
Indeed, some fans who bought into the "Reputation" tour's presale between December 5 and December 8 got nasty surprises when tickets opened up to the general public five days later.
"I wasted my time buying with the presale code as the tickets available to the public were much better," Twitter user "paigelizabethh" wrote.
Literally pulled out a loan just to purchase @taylorswift13 concert tickets. 🙌🏻 Grad school can’t stop be from seeing my girl— Kaila (@kayy__baybaby) January 2, 2018
"Any particular reason that #Reputation tickets in the 100s section during presale last week were US$446 (A$571) APIECE and now they're US$267 (A$341)????" asked "bigbiiisch".
Ticketmaster touted Taylor Swift Tix as "an unparalleled success", saying it delivered "the biggest registration we've ever had".
By charging higher prices and blocking out scalpers, Swift and her promoter Louis Messina could fatten their coffers by as much as US$1.5 million (A$1.9 million) per show, according to an estimate in Billboard.
That sounds like a shrewd business strategy, but Swift still has a lot of tickets to sell to make that upside. In the meantime, the "Swifties" are getting restless.
"Taylor Swift's 1989 tour tickets sold out in only a couple of hours," one disaffected fan, alexiam77, tweeted. "Today, you can *still* get really well-placed Reputation floor seats. If that doesn't tell you your tickets are too expensive, idk what will."
Swift's tour promoter, Messina, didn't respond to requests for comment. Swift's music distributor, Universal, said it wasn't immediately able to comment.
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