By Diane Bartz and Lisa Richwine
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Ticketmaster is preparing to sell tickets for Beyonce’s first tour in six years in a different way, hoping to avoid a repeat of last year’s Taylor Swift debacle.
Ticketmaster, whose fees and sales processes have aggravated bands and fans for decades, came under fire in November when frustrated Swifties battled its website, often unsuccessfully, to buy tickets for Swift’s first tour in five years.
The company, owned by Live Nation, is working to verify fans, filter out bots and others that would buy tickets for resale, and temper fans’ expectations that they will get tickets for Beyonce’s Renaissance tour when sales start next week.
Beyonce, who last toured in 2016, released the chart-topping and critically acclaimed “Renaissance,” her seventh studio album, at the end of July. The album, inspired by Black and queer dance music culture and pioneers, is in the running to be named album of the year at this year’s Grammy Awards on Sunday. The “Formation” and “Halo” singer also may set the record for lifetime wins by any Grammy artist.
“Demand for this tour is expected to be high. If there is more demand than there are tickets available, a lottery-style selection process will determine which Verified Fans get a unique access code and which are placed on the wait list,” Ticketmaster said on its website. The access code, the company said, “does not guarantee tickets.”
Ticketmaster tweeted on Thursday that the demand to register for a chance to buy tickets for concerts in the nine cities in Group A, whose registration closed on Friday, exceeded the number of tickets by more than 800%. Second shows were added in seven cities, including Houston, Atlanta and Toronto.
Jem Aswad, deputy music editor at Variety, said he expected Ticketmaster’s changes to make sales run smoother for Beyonce.
“Most significantly, they are putting much fewer tickets into the market at a time. It’s coming in three waves,” Aswad said.
For Swift, “they simply put too many tickets in the market. Their systems couldn’t handle the demand.”
The North American leg of Beyonce’s tour opens in Toronto on July 8 and closes in New Orleans on Sept. 27, according to the Ticketmaster website. The first tickets go on sale on Monday.
After loud complaints from Taylor Swift fans, the company blamed more than 3.5 billion requests from fans, bots and scalpers for its overwhelmed website. Last month, Joe Berchtold, president and chief financial officer of Live Nation, told a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that he apologized to fans.
Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mike Lee, the Democratic chair and the top Republican on the Senate antitrust panel, wrote a letter to Berchtold on Thursday with questions that showed skepticism about his assertions of tough competition in the ticketing market. The lawmakers, in particular, asked about assertions that critics made that Ticketmaster had a huge percentage of the market for big concerts and professional sporting events.
On Thursday, the Judiciary Committee retweeted a news report about the Beyonce tour announcement and tweeted to @Ticketmaster, “We’re watching.”
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Additional reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis)