In the ever-changing climate of the music industry, where it is increasingly hard to make any profit from album sales, musicians need to try something new in order to make money back. This may come in the form of exclusive release bundles, surprise album drops where fans have to scramble to catch up, extremely expensive VIP meet and greet packages, the list goes on. What seems to be new, and has come to light with the release of Taylor Swift’s 6th album Reputation, is a legitimising “fan experience” where you have the opportunity to buy tickets for her live shows, dependent on how you interact and use yourself as a promotional vessel for the release of the new album. For your hard work and shape shifting efforts — you are not rewarded with the advantage of getting tickets earlier, or access to a better spot than those who have not promoted the album. No. You get to be considered.
You could rant about how, of course, this isn’t fair. Especially to her legions of young fans that probably do not have their own means of income to support and partake in this experience. There could be the argument that her fans would be going about promoting the album on their own social media channels as they would be doing anyway, so why should they not be (somewhat) compensated (by way of ‘boosts’ per payment of merchandise/share, etc.) for it?
While Consequence of Sound did a good job of covering this – as they described – “troubling” behaviour, what stings the most from a young music fan’s perspective is the hierarchical system that very successful artists are putting in place to almost police how dedicated fans must be. To boil it down, it comes down to whether you have money or not. Your wealth should not be a factor in determining how you experience and interact with music.
Bear with me here.
Yes, I know tickets for concerts cost money so that might undercut my point — but imagine you are a student, who has to save and scrimp for tickets to see an artist you like in a live setting. You should not also be afforded the burden of shelling out MORE cash to maybe, possibly, get a ticket for said show. This, by principle, is exclusionary and alienates vulnerable young people cannot afford to buy the album 13 times to aid their progress. This is not done to legitimize who is a “real” fan or not, or “eliminate the bots,” it is done to make as much money as humanly possible from people who are passionate about music that could potentially get themselves in financial trouble in order to TRY to get tickets. Your ability to love and connect to music should not be dependent on your income. Yes, the music industry needs money to run. Yes, fans will want to support the artists they love. But at this rate, with the system in place by Taylor and Ticketmaster — it cannot help but feel extremely, extremely exploitative.
By Alisa Wylie