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Op-Ed: Taylor Swift Ticket Sales - By Bob Lefsetz

Op-Ed: Taylor Swift Ticket Sales – By Bob Lefsetz

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They blew it.

Show business is about perception, not reality. And the perception is that Taylor Swift is a self-satisfied performer who needs to be the biggest and the baddest and is not.

You don’t want to be able to get a ticket.

If I hear one more promoter talk about slow ticketing I’m gonna puke. This is the end game of what they’ve created, a world with no transparency where the secondary market scoops up too many profits and the greedy acts hide behind the ticketing company. You like the money, you want to live the lifestyle you flaunt all over the internet, why can’t you admit it? Instead of blaming Ticketmaster for fees, instead of bitching about the brokers, either go paperless or charge what the tickets are worth.

But you don’t want to do this. You want to appear to be a friend of the consumer while at the same time ripping them off. Tell me how that’s gonna work again?

So, to solve this problem, we’ve got the slow-ticketing phenomenon.

Otherwise called flex-pricing. Trying to extract the most money from the customer, get the highest gross. But this has really only worked for the Stones, who are running on fumes playing oldies to a crowd that’s afraid Keith Richards is gonna die, whereas Taylor Swift is not yet a heritage act, she’s selling new music, she needs people to believe she’s happening, the hottest act in the business, but when you can buy tickets for her show at the last minute, is she?

Of course she’s not.

Paul McCartney used to buy independent radio promotion. I don’t care who you are, how big you are, you’re starting over with every record. And the thing about the Stones… They never sold that many records to begin with, they’re kinda like the Dead, sui generis, other than those two it’s a game of…

What have you done for me lately.

And Taylor Swift hasn’t done much.

She’s continuing to feud with the world, only this time her posse has abandoned her.

And other than her initial single, which tried to evidence a sense of humor but didn’t, because she has none, every subsequent release went straight to the dumper. Live by the hit, die by the hit.

But they were doubling-down before the album even came out. With this insane boost phenomenon. Since you’re gonna be unable to get a ticket, you’re gonna jump through hoops to get one. Only in this case, she’s playing stadiums and that’s a lot of tickets, and ticketing is so obtuse that many of the best tickets never hit the general marketplace, they’re spoken for. Taylor Swift thought the rules didn’t apply to her, that she could set her own course.

But no, the rules apply to everybody. Even Adele, who stayed off streaming and sold a lot of tickets but became irrelevant to everybody who wasn’t at the show.

They’ve been lying about attendance and grosses since the Roman era, before that. Which is why you buy extra tickets to lay off on Craigslist or StubHub and then find out you can’t get rid of them. THE SHOW WAS NEVER SOLD OUT TO BEGIN WITH! But only insiders know this. You read ads congratulating the act on going clean, but if you think those ads are vetted by their displayers, you probably haven’t gotten a spam e-mail or junk phone call today. There’s no law about this, not one being enforced.

But if you think you can’t get a ticket, you’re gonna rush and buy one.

But if you think you can…

You’re gonna wait for the price to drop.

Come on, this ain’t Barbra Streisand. Taylor Swift is appealing to a very young generation, ever go to the grocery store with them? They’ve got to have it right now, and if they don’t they oftentimes forget about it. This strategy was not the right one for Swift.

Then again, it’s all being made up in the aftermath.

They expected tickets to sell better. This slow-ticketing thing is just an excuse. An explanation. And if you’re buying it…

Forget “Billboard” and the other elements of the music-industrial complex being bullied into printing falsehoods.

The story is Taylor Swift ain’t that damn hot, and it’s her own damn fault.

It doesn’t matter how much money she rakes in, unless you think money is everything, the Dixie Chicks sold out arenas before they were dead. Then again, those tickets were all sold before Natalie Maines attacked George Bush.

All these pop acts that have failed, they don’t understand the game.

They stepped up to the plate and barely bunted. Whereas the rappers realized if one track fails, you just line up another, they test tracks out with mixtapes, they understand the culture, but Taylor Swift does not.

Your image is not rehabilitated in the press, but in the hearts and minds of your audience. Swift made an album for the inside, not her fans, she lost them. Look at Gaga, she hasn’t had a hit for eons, but she’s decided to get out of the game, work with Tony Bennett. Even John Mayer got out of the hit game. But Taylor Swift has to win at everything. And people hate people like this. As Eric Clapton said…”It can’t always be up – for anybody.”

So Clapton broke up the band, went to work with Delaney & Bonnie. Made a solo record, formed the Dominos, did acoustic work. He didn’t follow trends, he went on his own hejira, and his hard core stuck with him and the penumbra waxed and waned depending upon whether he hit pay dirt.

That’s a musician.

But Taylor Swift is too busy being a celebrity.

But we’ve got the press tsunami, talking about sales in an era of streaming, all kinds of facts, but deep in their hearts the fans know…

There’s something off.

Taylor could admit this. Blow out the shows at cheap prices. Give back. Create new music only for her fans, forget about the album cycle.

But she can’t. Because she had a plan. Which needs to be stuck to.

“Reputation” will come and go. You’ll hear varying opinions.

But one thing’s for sure. In show business your image is everything, perception trumps reality. You want people to PERCEIVE you’re the biggest and the brightest star, that’s the manipulation your team is in service to, not your gross, this ain’t Wall Street, this is closer to Main Street. This is bedrooms, this is people, this is soul-fulfillment. Who cares if you make an extra hundred million, it doesn’t change the songs, it doesn’t change what they mean to people.

They don’t teach this in books. There’s no school. Which is why the music business constantly repopulates with new people, usually uneducated, scrappers who do it in a new way and have their finger on the pulse.

A great manager is the quarterback who protects the act at all costs. When done right management is forever, the act should be able to tour until it dies.

But this requires constant adjustment, and being a slave to the audience, not the bank.

Because the audience decides whether or not to give you their money.

And it’s very hard to quantify their whims.

But one thing’s for sure, if they can’t get in…


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