This is my first less-than-positive post and I feel I need to vent.
When the band announced their new album (Songs of Experience) would be released in December and followed it up with a new tour (Experience + Innocence) in 2018, I was ecstatic. I knew that buying tickets would be an anxiety-filled day of sitting in front of my Mac—credit card in hand—and waiting for the very second that I could get online. There would be moments when I would waited with bated breath for the confirmation that my order when through. There would be times when there were agonizing delays as thousands—maybe hundreds of thousands—of die hard fans hit Ticketmaster’s servers all at the same time. There would be times when I would be kicked out due to some glitch only to have to start from the beginning. But, no matter what I was patient and did whatever I had to do get that confirmation. It was frustrating at times to see how slow and glitchy the process could be. And with each tour there was this hope that they (i.e. TM/the band/Live Nation/etc.) would have created a way to make it easier. Alas, they didn’t.
I fully understand that their biggest challenge is ticket-scalpers. They’ve been around for as long as I have been a fan (30 years). I know with each tour they create security measures to make it harder for these guys and with each tour the scalpers figure out a way to circumvent those very measures. With that in mind, I have always been patient and understanding with whatever new and complicated way they came up with to buy tickets. However, I will say that it has been a disappointment over the years.
This time around, members of the Official U2 Fan Club had to register and become a Verified Fan. The process required connecting the U2 account with my Ticketmaster account. After receiving confirmation that the Setup Was Complete. On the day of the presale I would receive a text message with a code that would allow me to buy tickets. Well, that didn’t happen and I was worried that it wouldn’t. With no code all I could do was re-review my account—no luck, try and call TM directly—no luck and see if this was happening to others—Bingo. I guess the only consolation was that I was in good company. And for the lucky ones that got the codes, they fell into two camps: the first still had no luck getting tickets. And the second who did, only find most of the good seats were gone or exorbitantly high.
These are the things that make me want to give up, and that is saying a lot.
First, the price of tickets have risen so high that going to a show is a plan. It has gotten harder and harder over the years to afford the tickets, even though I make decent money. I am well aware that the cost of such a production requires the band to charge a certain amount in order for everyone to make money. If they don’t make money, there’s little reason to do it (these days). So, I’m okay with paying $250-$350 per ticket.
Second, the cost of memorabilia, food, drinks and parking have all risen to the same degree. I’m willing to pay for it and know that it will be another $200-$300. It’s simply the cost of going to a show.
I believe that the band really does think about its fans and tries to make it easier for them. The challenge is their business partners (i.e. Ticketmaster, Live Nation, etc.). They gotta work with them, too. So how do you please your fans, your partners and put on a great show and still make money? Compromises have to made. In this case it’s TM.
I remember many, many years ago Pearl Jam had a big beef with them and played at non-TM venues. PJ thought that TM’s service charges were too high, taking into consideration that many times it was the only way to get tickets. PJ railed against TM’s monopolistic behavior and I always respected them for that. The fact is TM controls the market and aren’t very good at what they do. And the reason is because they don’t have to be. The result is the band has only one girl to bring to the dance, and she’s not that great.
The bad news is that a lot of us suffer. The band probably knows this, but are probably limited in what they can do about it. The tragedy is that it could be so much better. I’m pretty sure that the management at TM would say that they are doing the best they can. And I reply, that’s the problem.
The worst part is that it’s gotten harder and harder for the average fan so see a U2 show. Part of that has to do with their popularity, but much of it has to with the system and the ineptitude of the people running it.
I will always be a fan and I have always wondered about the time when I would no longer see a U2 show, because it was too hard. Sadly, I fear I might be approaching that time.