For the past few years, pop artists have used a loophole in order to garner more album sales. People like Katy Perry, The Chainsmokers, and even Madonna have done something known as bundling, in which people who buy tickets for a tour can also obtain a copy of the album along with their purchase. Because of this, ticket sales then equal album sales—even if fans did not go out and actually buy said album—thereby boosting over all album sales.
But Taylor Swift, it seems, has an entirely new strategy increase her album sales. She’s partnering with Ticketmaster for a promotion known as “Taylor Swift Tix.” It’s framed as a way for fans to “beat the bots” that scalpers use to mass-purchase tickets and jack up resale prices, and requires you to register on her site to get access to tickets.
From there you pick your preferred city, and then get to choose different opportunities to “boost” your place in line to obtain Taylor Swift concert tickets.
The boosts include things like pre-ordering the album Reputation (labeled as a “high boost”) or posting about it on social media (a low boost.) “Share the news about Taylor Swift Tix and for each share (one per platform, per day) you’ll get a boost,” reads the site.
There’s also a bar on the lefthand of the site that will tell you your place in line. (“wait list” on one end and “priority” on the other.) But it’s worth noting that in the fine print, Ticketmaster says “participation does not guarantee access to purchase tickets or the ability to purchase tickets.”
And you don’t just have to buy the album once; you can buy the album many times across different retailers and get a boost each time. Which means you can buy Reputation on Taylor Swift’s site, you can buy it at Walmart.com, you can buy it at Target.com, you can buy it on iTunes, and each time you’ll receive a boost. The “pre-order and purchase boosts” are limited to 13 total across retailers.
This is messed up for a few reasons. First of all, it makes getting tickets for a Taylor Swift concert into a game in which people with the most money get ahead. And where are you getting ahead to? Just the opportunity to buy a ticket. So all of these album purchases, the merch, the social media posts, are not in lieu of paying for a ticket, nor do they guarantee one.
I also take issue with the fact that this whole thing is being framed as a way for Ticketmaster to weed out bots. It would be one thing to have fans register and be vetted as non-scalpers before they buy tickets, but I’m not sure how getting fans to buy merch (one item is a $60 snake ring plated with 24K gold) does anything to stop bots (which, by the way, is not the fans’ job, it’s Ticketmaster’s). A cutesy little video featuring a cat helps explain the promotion as a new, “fun way” to buy tickets, like a game. But it’s not a game, it’s just a sssneaky way to encourage you to shell out more cash for product.