It seems as if Taylor Swift has given up hiding her greedy, self-obsessed nature, and has opted to gleefully play the role of the “villain.” Unfortunately for her, there is no more room for her childishly pandering character.
Her latest marketing attempt? A partnership with ticket sales and distribution company known as Ticketmaster, with not only the hope of scamming her own fans out of their parents' money, but also with the underlying desire to turn ticket purchasing for her upcoming tour into a pathetic hunger-games-for-the-privileged type scenario. The full details can be found in the official video here, but to summarize this poor marketing scheme: you register on her website (hopefully without her cringe-inducing narration via the video) and select the city you would like to attend for her concert. To “advance your spot in line” (or have a better shot at purchasing tickets) you can participate in “unique activities.”
This is where the trash of a marketing scam becomes the greatest comedy of 2017: the “unique activities” include pre-ordering the album and buying merch. Swift tries to play this entire process off as “beating the bots,” but we all know that’s not true, because this scam is more about milking more money from her fans than actually beating the bots.
Some artists have partnered with Ticketmaster before in attempts to “beat the bots,” with some success. A most recent example would be Twenty One Pilots’ Tour De Columbus, in which fans had to register on their website to receive a personal code via text message to access the ticket sale (held exclusively for the fans, no general sale at all). While plenty of tickets popped up on resale sites, the general consensus was that making a hoop for customers to jump through cut back the number of tickets lost to bots and scalpers by a slight amount.
Swift seems to have (in a way) recreated this hoop in some form, with her fans having to go to her website, access a specific fan portal, and enter the city they wish to attend…but there is an additional hoop the fans themselves must jump through to have a shot at grabbing tickets, and that hoop is called privilege.
When you have fans competing against each other to see who can purchase more of your merchandise, and then reward the richest fans with a better shot at attending your show, you are profiting and delighting in your own fans scrambling for whatever money is available to them to turn out on top of the competition. This Swift/Ticketmaster collaborative scam also highlights another key fact: a decent amount of Swift’s target audience is surely too young to have their own credit card or other personal means to purchase enough products to move up the ranks on this “fan opportunity,” meaning that a fan’s chance at seeing Taylor Swift in concert is even further dependent upon their expendable income.
Obviously money is required to see an artist no matter what, but when the herd of fans is thinned through a poorly veiled competition of who has the more income at their disposal, it becomes clear that Taylor Swift believes her tickets are for the privileged (to be more specific, they seem to be those who possess middle-to-upper-class-privilege).
And it is no surprise that this expendable income will most definitely come from more white families than families of color, due to the ever-persistent wealth gap in America. In a study published just last year by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and the Corporation For Economic Development (CFED), it found that “If average black family wealth continues to grow at the same pace it has over the past three decades, it would take black families 228 years to amass the same amount of wealth white families have today.” Where there is a wealth divide, there most certainly is a correlating divide in expendable income: that extra amount of money lying around, the exact type needed when competing unexpectedly in Taylor Swift/Ticketmaster’s scam.
Again, of course, one must have money to purchase concert tickets, but when purchasing tickets is turned into privilege hunger games, where those who have or whose family has the most amount of money can buy their way to having Ticketmaster’s priority, the entire process speaks volumes to how out of touch Taylor Swift, her record label, and ticket distributors are in regards to class and racial privilege in America.
As a white male, I do not want to act like I know everything about the complex topic of privilege; I am striving to learn and understand more about my own privilege and how I can use it to elevate those around me who do not have the privilege(s) I do. In this regard, I wish to direct my readers to a well-written article by Chauncey Devega, where he discusses the reality of how white privilege plays into our Nation’s racial economic wealth divide.
I will leave readers with this: Taylor Swift is clearly pushing to end 2017 coming out on top as the pop-superstar she has consistently been for years. However, her recent ploy with Ticketmaster shows lack of critical, between-the-lines thinking. To thin out the herd of fans who wish to see you in concert via marketing scam based on privilege is, let’s be honest, a pretty terrible thing to do. Her tickets are surely overpriced enough, and to create additional privilege hurdles to overcome is downright embarrassing for her character. If she wants to play up the whole “being a snake” image, that’s fine. But she should know that nobody likes a snake, especially one who preys off the privilege of her own fans.