Industry News

Verified Fan links up with Citi for special U2 tour presale

Citi Bank has linked up with Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan for the first time to provide card-holders with a special registration period and priority ticketing for U2’s upcoming ‘eXPERIENCE+ iNNOCENCE’ tour.

The partnership marks a first for both U2 and Citi, as the band have never had a brand-sponsored presale, and the financial services company has never been part of an exclusive presale through the Verified Fan system.

“I know the industry – artists, managers, venues, ticketing partners, promoters – everybody has been fighting for the fans together and trying to think of new ways to get tickets to fans,” Jennifer Breithaupt, Citi’s global consumer chief marketing officer, told Pollstar.

“So having Verified Fan really being able to identify who real people are is a tremendous step for us and fans alike, so we are really excited for us to be partnering on this initiative with a band like U2.”

U2’s tour kicks off on May 2 at Tulsa’s BOK Center in Oklahoma and makes stops at 15 North American arenas before concluding on June 29 at New Jersey’s Prudential Center in Newark.

The Verified Fan platform asks those hoping to buy tickets to provide personal information, including their phone number, email and social handles. It then assesses whether they are human, looking for clues like past ticket-buying history and social posts, and lets ticket-buyers know if they’ve made the cut.

Breithaupt said that while having a Citi card does not guarantee a ticket during the presale, it enters fans into a smaller pool from which to be selected.

Verified Fan has a 90-per-cent success rate in identifying ticket bots, according to Live Nation chief executive Michael Rapino.

“We saw the success and energy coming from our customers who are also music fans… so we really doubled down since then on music as a really great way for us to connect with consumers around the world,” Breithaupt said.

“It is the universal language. It really allows us to create successful moments and memories for customers who are fans. We do over 12,000 events a year. Last year we worked with 1,500 artists across every genre of music.”

Ticketmaster is set to use its Verified Fan platform for all tickets on U2’s 15-city tour, marking the first time the firm has used the technology for an entire arena tour to keep tickets out of the hands of scalpers.

Meanwhile, Taylor Swift has been criticised by some followers after being accused of introducing a variation on Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan scheme that gives wealthier fans an advantage over others in securing tickets for her upcoming tour.

In announcing the Reputation Tour, Swift and Ticketmaster released a video that said fans are invited to participate in “boost activities” which will “improve their place in line”. Fans can, for example, watch Swift music clips for free, but the video suggests they can also move up to ‘Priority’ category by going to ‘Shop the store’ to buy merchandise or by purchasing the singer’s album.