“have you ever had the feeling that you’ve been cheated?”
UPDATE, 1/31:: U2.com has announced that they will be providing refunds to anyone who hasn’t used their membership code to buy tickets. Nice egomaniacal spin to the press release, but I don’t care; all I care is that I can get my money back and use it for something else. It’s still the biggest ripoff ever.
First, I guess I have to apologize for being so non-trendy and unhip that I care about seeing U2. I had gotten worn out with the hype, but then I went to Brooklyn, for old times’ sake, and it was actually brilliant. They could still play, just the four of them rocked it out hard.
Yes, I am such a fangirl that I will pay $40 for a fan club membership. I had a Propaganda membership years and years ago, didn’t keep it up. But for priority ticketing, yes, I would pay $40. This isn’t the Rolling Stones fan club, they are going to do this right. I expect the Rolling Stones to take as much money from me as they can. I don’t expect this from U2.
Or so I thought.
At least 90,000 people joined the new Propaganda (this according to several reports of people who talked to Fanfire, the merchandising arm of Sony Entertainment, that handled the fulfillment of memberships). There was no way they could accomodate 90,000 memberships, but yet, when they sent out the tour date announcements, they made sure to mention that members as of the night before the presale would be eligible for tickets. That should have been my first clue that something was very, very wrong.
Or maybe my first clue should have been what a trainwreck the official web site, U2.com, ended up being. I don’t have much faith in any band’s official web site, but somehow, stupidly, I thought this band might actually do things differently. The fact that it was buggy and crashed constantly when it went online – why test it? it’s only music fans. who cares if they have a bad experience? it’s not like they are valued customers or anything like that – and that you couldn’t sign up for a membership if you wanted to, and then when people did, they got charged double – no, none of that mattered.
I had hopes that there would actually be exclusive content that I cared about, that maybe a lesson was learned from other band web sites, that U2 would embrace the web and be pioneers, that their site wouldn’t be an embarassment, like most official musician web sites are. But instead, there’s one bad screensaver and some photos. The promised web mail doesn’t work. Fans put together better video compilations – which, again, doesn’t surprise me, but I paid $40 for a membership. $40 x 90,000 is a lot of fucking money.
Now we move to the presale. I can get tickets to pretty much anything I want, not because I’m a journalist that can get on a guest list, but because I’ve been playing the game so fucking long that I know how to play it. As a recent example, while most of the world bitched about Springsteen playing a club in Asbury Park, or didn’t even try to get tickets, I managed to get tickets to both shows. I am not a child. I am not a newbie. I know how to do this.
By 9:59 a.m., the Ticketmaster (why TM? Why not Musictoday?) server was swamped, and not only were there no GA’s, there were no tickets to speak of within 9 minutes, 10:09, when the error message said that there were no tickets left.
From the U2.com FAQ:
Q: What are the benefits I receive when I become a U2.com Member?
A: A special introductory gift – a U2.com members card metal key chain. Priority ticketing for the 2005 tour. You will be able to buy two tickets for any indoor U2 show or four tickets for any outdoor U2 show during your membership term.
Not “a chance for tickets,” not “the opportunity to purchase tickets,” but You will be able to buy two tickets for any indoor U2 show. Bad language on their part. Very bad.
This should be a scandal, it should hit the media, but it won’t. Because it’s “just” fans and it’s “just” a fan club and they’re such a big band, we should know better. If this were a sporting team, this treatment would never be tolerated, but music fans let themselves get walked over time and time again.
I am done being a U2 fan. I will not buy tickets, I will not go, and I took all their music off my iPod earlier today. I know, it’s childish, but I can’t stand listening to them now, and I don’t know when I will. I feel utterly jaded, and stupid, and foolish. My faith has been tested, and tested hard. I still *had* faith in this big crazy thing called rock and roll. I am a big proponent of artists being able to make money, tons of it, even, from their art. But this is just a ripoff. And from the depth of the response all over the world (see the links at the bottom), many people feel the same way, and are sending many faxes to Principle Management (212-765-2372, if you care).
“Have you ever had the feeling that you’ve been cheated?” Johnny Rotten asked the audience at the end of the Sex Pistols US tour, almost thirty years ago.
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