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With ticket sales in the tank, Taylor Swift makes unprecedented move

With the curtain rising on her “Reputation” tour, Taylor Swift blinked.

She buckled by having Ticketmaster turn off resale ticket listings on its interactive venue charts for the first leg of her North American tour, according to music-industry veterans.

The tour, which begins on Tuesday in Glendale, Ariz., shows plenty of primary tickets still available for the first nine shows.

But the delisting of secondary, or resale, tickets — a move experts called unusual if not unprecedented — makes the inventory of available seats seem much smaller.

On July 20, for example, Swift is scheduled to appear at MetLife Stadium as part of her tour’s third leg.
About half the seats still available for that show are represented by red dots on Ticketmaster’s venue chart, meaning they are up for resale.

The other half, represented by blue dots, signify primary sales. Those are the only dots currently visible to visitors trying to score tickets for a show on the first leg of “Reputation.”

Ticketmaster’s shutting down ticket resales for Swift’s early shows perplexed many in the industry because it handed secondary sales to competing resellers like StubHub.

On blockbuster tours, Ticketmaster admittedly makes more revenue on ticket resales than primary sales.

It also left some wondering if Ticketmaster was taking orders from its parent company, Live Nation, which as the tour’s promoter, has much riding on “Reputation” being perceived as a success.

Billboard, which first reported on the delisting, said it occurred on April 27. It added that ticket prices were reduced in many markets to spur sales.

The 51-stop tour is being closely watched — not just because it’s expected to test Swift’s star power but also because it’s the most critical test, to date, of Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program.

That program seeks to get tickets in the hands of fans by having participants register weeks before a concert to prove they’re legitimate ticket buyers and not bots working on behalf of scalpers.

But by practicing what’s called “slow ticketing,” meaning tickets for a tour are sold in tranches rather than released all at once, the Verified Fan program tries to generate more revenue for the artist yet often produces fewer sold-out shows.

That may be what’s happening to Swift.

Billboard estimated “Reputation” has already sold more than $240 million worth of tickets, making it the highest-grossing tour of the star’s career, and is on track to crack $300 million in total sales. But the lack of sellouts also has some observers wondering if her popularity is waning.

One industry veteran said the trade-off she considers intrinsic to Verified Fan ticketing has the industry at “an interesting tipping point, which can go either way.”

Neither Ticketmaster nor Swift’s reps responded to requests for comment. (New York Post)

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