Category Archives: Artist Arena ticketing

Canceled Shows, Refunds, VIP Packages and Artist Arena

Canceled shows bring out a lot of emotions in fans, in Duranies. For those fans, like myself, who held tickets to one of the shows that didn’t happen, the first thoughts were emotions, including shock, disappointment, anger at the world, and more. Those emotions are what were seen throughout Duranland as people attempted to come to grips with their own personal change of plans or with what this meant to the band and the All You Need is Now era. I doubt that anyone thought about the actual details of those canceled shows much in the first day or so. Perhaps, the fans who held tickets pondered if the shows would be rescheduled and if so, when. Even so, there probably wasn’t a ton of thought given to the steps that would need to be taken in order to get one or five shows rescheduled. At least, there wasn’t for me beyond the obvious ones.

Now, of course, the emotions have lessened and people are thinking more about the details associated with the canceled shows. For those of us with tickets, this reality is all about the refund once we knew that the shows wouldn’t be rescheduled. I have been through this part a bit before when the shows were canceled in the UK. That situation was complicated as two of us wanted to go back for the rescheduled shows and two of us didn’t out of the four who originally planned on going. Yet, in some cases, the tickets and the VIP packages to go with them were in people’s names who weren’t going back. Then, of course, the shows were rescheduled in a different order, which added a whole other layer of complication. In fact, it felt like weeks that we were dealing with emails back and forth from Artist Arena. While in that situation, things worked out, there was stress involved and imperfect solutions that took far too long to be settled. Thus, when the statement came out about how these shows weren’t going to be rescheduled, I became concerned.

Before the news regarding these canceled shows was even an hour old, I had typed an email to customer service at Artist Arena. Since I did not think it was a smooth process, I was determined to be assertive about my demand for an immediate refund. The first respond I got back was strange. The email said that they had to wait for confirmation that the plan was to give refunds. Huh? Why wouldn’t they know already? If the band had it posted on dd.com, wouldn’t their ticket agent know this? It did not give me hope but I did realize that the responders at customer service would not be those dealing with the band’s management. I responded again and the next day received an email saying that the matter had been closed. Great. What was done?! Who knew?! I certainly didn’t. Then, later that day or the next, I got another email indicating that a refund would take place. I actually checked this morning and, indeed, I did receive a refund. Good for them even if there communication was a little strange. I’m glad that it was this smooth and not complicated at all! That’s how it should be.

Of course, I have come to realize that my situation for Chicago was easy. I didn’t VIP there because there was no chance of doing so. Thus, I didn’t have to worry about the merchandise and how much money I would be refunded. Other people, for other shows, weren’t in the same boat, though, as they had done VIP. Rhonda and I did VIP for 3 shows on this leg and we had received our merch for all 3 at the same time before the shows happened. It sounded like most people got their merch around this same time, no matter when their shows took place. For example, the merch was received on August 15th. Some people had VIP shows that took place a week before that and others weren’t going to have their VIP shows for another couple of weeks. So, if everyone had received their merchandise, what was going to happen with the refunds? Would the fans have to return their stuff to get a full refund? Would Artist Arena only refund the ticket cost so that people could and would keep the merch?

Apparently, there was some confusion about this very question. It sounds like, initially, those holding VIP tickets were told that they would not be receiving refunds for the merchandise. Then, another message was sent out:

A Message from the DD VIP Fan Community:

We sincerely apologize for the cancellation of the last shows of the AYNIN tour. Though Enhanced Bundle purchasers originally received an email that they would NOT be refunded for the merchandise portion of the bundle the band, Artist Arena, Magus Entertainment and World Wide Fan Clubs have decided to refund everyone IN FULL and you may keep the merchandise as a gift.

Obviously, those people were then refunded in full and were able to keep the merchandise.

Over the course of this blog, we have, at times, criticized the fan club, Artist Arena, the ticketing process, etc. Yet, I have to admit that this seems like a generous thing to do. Clearly, they could have just refunded the tickets but didn’t. I’m sure that it cost them money but it will help with the fans in the long run. Fans will remember that this process of refunds was simple and quick. They will also remember that they got something, even if they didn’t get the shows.

Maybe, it is just me, but I’m glad that there wasn’t salt poured on a wound. I’m glad that something nice was done for the fans. ūüôā

No Early Entry VIP?

Today was the presale for Biloxi, Mississippi. I went to Twitter this morning in a rather vain attempt to shake the trees looking for possible Duranies who were planning to attend. It would seem that this show is not going to be a favorite for the hard core fans that choose to follow us on Twitter (or Facebook), as decidedly few have mentioned their plans.

As Amanda and I were preparing ourselves for the presale by understanding what might be available (Is the venue seated or GA? ¬†Will their be VIP packages? ¬†Where in the heck is Biloxi? Can I fly there from Orange County?), we noticed that the ticketing for this particular show is indeed different from other shows. ¬†I’m not sure how many of you have bought presale tickets lately, but “VIP” has a new name. ¬†It’s now called “Enhanced Merchandise Bundle” and includes things such as a t-shirt, a commemorative tour laminate, and a photo book. ¬†The price for this “bundle” is $125 over and above the ticket price for the show. ¬†When we bought our presale tickets for Durham, it was made clear that the seats would still be preferential. (although as I recall there was no firm “first 5 rows” or anything like that given – the seats were merely called “premium”) ¬†However, for this particular venue, the floor is GA standing, with seats surrounding. ¬†In the past, when there has been a GA gig, there has still been an opportunity to buy a VIP ticket that would include early entry into the venue at the least – and at some gigs there would even be a roped off area in the front for these tickets. ¬†In Biloxi though, this is not to be the case. ¬†As I mentioned before, the tickets are now called “Enhanced Merchandise Bundles”, and for this show they do not include early entry. ¬†You’re simply paying for the merchandise when you buy a GA ticket in this bundle. ¬†There is, however, an option to buy a premium reserved seated ticket – and these seats are located in the first 3 rows of the balcony. ¬†In both cases, the bundle is an extra $125 above and beyond the ticket price of whichever ticket you purchase. (And yes, there is a hefty price difference between GA and seated tickets!) ¬†In the case of Biloxi, these enhanced merchandise bundles were a total of $224.50 for a GA ticket and $288.70 for a seated balcony ticket. Definitely different, if not downright highway robbery.

The questions here are obvious: ¬†why on earth would you spend so much just for extra merchandise? ¬†I suppose for those fans who haven’t seen the band in a while or don’t have much in the way of merchandise, this is a benefit. ¬†The bigger question is whether or not this is going to be the new trend for GA shows, and if so – how does everyone feel about that?

As I contemplated the pricing and the newly named merch bundle, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe this is going to be the new trend throughout all presale ticketing, meaning that perhaps premium seating will slowly be phased out. In the reading I’ve done across the industry, bands are starting to back away from the VIP experience altogether. ¬†Many are not comfortable with the idea that their fans can buy their way into areas reserved for friends and family, and they don’t like the idea that the same fans can essentially pay to have the same seats for every show – thus seeming to block anyone else from having the chance to be up close.

From my own perspective, I feel as though if premium seats weren’t offered to the fan community (I must reiterate here that NO SUCH ANNOUNCEMENT has been made by DDM or Artist Arena – this is pure conjecture on my part as I offer the topic for discussion.), I would simply find other ways in which to purchase them. ¬†I’m not interested in sitting in the balcony or the back at gigs. ¬†I want to be in the front, and as many others like me have said – I’m willing to pay the price to sit where I so choose. ¬†I cannot possibly imagine I’m the only fan who feels that way. Perhaps that doesn’t seem fair to other, less die-hard fans. ¬†I suppose my response would be that in the many, many cases where I am just a casual fan – I don’t want to pay high ticket prices, and therefore I happily accept less-premium seats. ¬†My goodness I’m going to see Def Leppard and Poison (Yes, yes I am!) in June, and I’m thrilled that my seats are way back on the lawn! ¬†I paid that $20.00 for those seats with a smile on my face, knowing that I will be well away from the chaos of the die-hard fans that are eager to show Bret Michaels everything they’ve got, and very close to the beer/wine trailer while I enjoy some fantastic rock music and see a great show.

I would also say that while I am no longer a member of DDM, taking away the chance to purchase premium tickets would do absolutely nothing to help the cause of the paid fan community. ¬†I certainly would see no reason to rejoin! ¬†I know many, many members (If not all) pay their yearly fee in order to have the opportunity to purchase those tickets. ¬†I can’t imagine that membership would be all that attractive otherwise. ¬†I also have to wonder what is ever going to happen with those “Gold” memberships – did people really pay extra SOLELY for some extra merchandise?

It would seem to me as a somewhat biased bystander that DDM is becoming more and more “merchandise” driven as opposed to actually providing the possibility for unique experiences as a fan. ¬†While I can’t possibly know what the future plans for the site or for ticketing will be, I have to hope that the Biloxi presale ticketing is not a sign of what is to come. ¬†I’m curious to read what many of you are thinking. ¬†I’ll will be continuing to watch presales, and keep you posted!

-R

Durham Pre-Sale Outrage

I try to give the benefit of the doubt.¬† I try to find a reasonable explanation when things in Duranland aren’t what I and many other think it should be.¬† In this case, I’m struggling.¬† I’m truly struggling to understand, to explain, to remain positive.¬† As we all know, last week Duran announced a new date in Durham, North Carolina, on August 21st.¬† Okay.¬† That could be cool.¬† Last week, in the wake of this news, Rhonda and I both talked about how difficult it is to plan for shows when we only know 2 in isolation.¬† As some people have pointed out, these dates probably have been released by the venue rather than the band’s team.¬† Okay.¬† I get that.¬† Nonetheless, it is frustrating when you want to put together a logical tour for oneself, which includes shows close together, both geographically and time wise.¬† I get that the band’s team, for whatever reason, isn’t ready to put out the rest of the dates, assuming there are more.¬† See I’m being understanding…well, I was until I found out about the presale for Durham.¬†

I found out about the presale from a phone call from Rhonda who found out from Julie, one of our readers.¬† Apparently, it was also “announced” on the band’s twitter.¬† I didn’t see it on their facebook, however.¬† Now, I’m a member of DDM and have been since 2004.¬† Why don’t they send emails to their members when presales are announced?¬† Do they assume that everyone goes over to DDM on a daily basis?¬† (I don’t, by the way, especially since there rarely is information provided that way and the boards are soooooo….slow.)¬† Anyway, luckily, someone was paying attention and was kind enough to point it out to us.¬† (Thanks, Julie!)¬† So, now we are about 15 hours or so from the start of the presale.¬† What information do we know?¬† Pretty much NOTHING.¬† We know that there will be two ticket options from Artist Arena:¬† the regular ticket price and the enhanced merchandise bundle ticket.¬† Are prices given for these options?¬† Nope.¬† Do they describe the possible location for these options?¬† Nope.¬† Do they give details about what is included in the merch bundle?¬† Nope.¬† I had to look at ticketmaster to have an idea of what the ticket prices MIGHT be.¬† Why should I have to search that much?¬† Why isn’t it given?¬† Why don’t we know where the tickets will be located, in general?¬† Is this enhanced merch the new name for VIP?¬† If so, can I assume that the tickets will be in the first few rows?¬† Honestly, the customer service here sucks.¬† Yes, yes, Artist Arena, at least, says exactly where your seats will be when you add seats to your “shopping cart”.¬† That is literally the only good thing about them that I can find.¬†

Back in the good old days of DDM (and I can’t believe I’m saying that or believing that!), there were VIP packages and there were Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 and sometimes more.¬† VIP included the first 5 rows, merch, a chance for a meet and greet, and a preshow party.¬† It wasn’t cheap but…at least you knew exactly what you were getting.¬† Tier 1 tickets would also be specified.¬† Before the presale began, you would know exactly which sections and rows were included for Tier 1.¬† They were the same as the regular priced tickets but you could get 6th-15th row, at least in my experience.¬† The other tiers would be further back or in the balcony.¬† Again, though, you would know exactly how much those tickets were and where those seats would be located.¬† Thus, you could get decent seats through DDM without buying VIP.¬† I truly don’t think that is the case now that they are using Artist Arena.¬† For example, for LA this past year, I tried to get regular seats and got something like 32nd row.¬† Many people I know tried to get seats for the Chicago show that way and couldn’t get any.¬† They didn’t have many seats under the regular ticket heading and I’m not sure how many VIPs they had either.

While I can understand having a couple of dates out there before the rest of the tour is announced, I don’t get why Artist Arena is so pathetic with their information.¬† I also don’t get why the presale wasn’t announced everywhere.¬† I don’t get why members weren’t alerted.¬† Don’t they want to sell these tickets?¬† Don’t they want to create excitement?¬† Then, why can’t they give information about the prices, the merch, the seating locations?¬† They must know it and, if they don’t, why the heck not?¬† Thus, Rhonda and I still don’t really know what the best plan for us is.¬† Do we buy tickets tomorrow?¬† If so, will we regret it later when we find a different group of shows to go to?¬† Which tickets do we try for?¬† I don’t know.¬† I’m beyond frustrated, though.¬† I realize that the band members themselves aren’t doing this.¬† I realize that it is Artist Arena and DDM that has created such a bad situation for us fans.¬† I am sure that the band isn’t even checking on these groups but have people to do that for them.¬† That said, it ends up making THEM look badly and will eventually chase a lot more people away besides the large number of people who left a long time ago.

Come on, DDM and Artist Arena, you can do better than this!  Come on, the Duran Duran machine, check on who you have working for the band.  Make sure that they are doing a quality job.  Do it before people walk away for good.

-A

What is the deal with VIP, DDM and Duran Duran?

I happen to know a few fans who are very excited about the announcement of shows in South America for later this spring.  The fan community in South America is vibrant, loyal, and ready to show plenty of love for Duran Duran when they arrive.  These fans have sat and watched as plenty of other places in the world were able to celebrate the music they enjoy with the band that they love, and soon it will be their turn to host the band on their own continent.

I’ve often wondered what it must be like for fans in other parts of the world. ¬†Granted, I live in the United States, and as it has been pointed out to me on more than one occasion – we do get plenty of shows here. ¬†No argument from me on that point. ¬†I have no trouble maintaining my loyalty for the band because we do get plenty of attention from them, and when they tour, the only real questions are when they will be coming and how long they will be here. ¬†In other places of the world, they begin with the question of whether or not they’ll be coming at all.

I’ve wondered if joining the paid fan community in places outside of the UK or US (and perhaps Europe) is even worth the money. ¬†It’s well-known and understood that the community really offers very, very little in the way of “exclusives”, so the only value is in the presale tickets and the VIP packages that may be offered. ¬†Sure, there is a fan forum on the website, Katy Kafe, and a handful of other things that can readily be found on YouTube, but aside from those things, there is very little use to being “in the club”. ¬†It certainly does not feel exclusive, nor does it treat the members as though they are special to the band, which in this writers opinion is essential to the success of a pay-to-join fan community such as DDM.

This is why I was incredibly curious to see whether or not VIP packages, such as those that are regularly offered in both the US and UK, would be offered in South America. ¬†There are fans from South America that have paid to be included in the fan community, so surely something would be in fact offered, yes? ¬†Actually, no. ¬†No there will not be VIP packages offered for those dates. ¬†Aside from presale tickets, there is nothing “exclusive” or “special” being offered in countries that can rarely take advantage of any other wonderful item that is offered currently through DDM. ¬†Honestly, this should be an outrage to those South American fans, if not the rest of us, because while nothing of the sort is being offered to them through their own fan community, one can almost bet local radio stations or the like will have contests and opportunities for other fans, who may or may not be nearly as loyal, will have the opportunity for meet and greets, early entry for the standing section at the front of the venue closest to the stage, among other things. ¬†Is this really fair or an appropriate way to treat fans?

On one hand, I can see the point of DDM. ¬†I am sure that while there are some fans from South America that populate the membership of DDM, it’s at least possible that they don’t quite match the number of those from the US or the UK. ¬†In order to effectively offer VIP packages, they probably need to be able to give the promoter firm numbers that surpass what they can “promise”. ¬†I can give DDM the benefit of the doubt on that count. ¬†That said, I find it difficult to believe that there is no way they can offer early entry to fans who have (and will) buy tickets in the standing section closest to the stage. ¬†I know bands with far, far less of a devoted following that are able to offer such things without much of a problem in South America as well as other parts of the world.

One really cannot argue that DDM was at least originally intended (or sold to them) to be a cash cow for the band, (whether or not they are actually seeing¬†that money is beyond the scope of this particular blog) but that point comes through loud and clear. ¬†There is little intention to make the fans feel as though they are part of a special group or that they are getting access to the band that the general public would not have. ¬†Emphasis is on becoming a “VIP” member with very little offered for the additional cost in membership besides a few trinket type items at this point. ¬†In most cases, if not all, meet and greets weren’t even offered¬†on the US tour (the argument isn’t about whether or not meet and greets are worth the VIP ticket price here – that’s another issue for another blog), so I have to ask – what was the point beyond an inflated ticket price and a couple of merchandise offerings?¬†¬†In the case of fans from other parts of the world besides the US and the UK, that cash cow point is in bold face type, since they can rarely take advantage of nearly anything else that the club has to offer. ¬†Does membership really have any¬†advantage?

I am sure that I will hear from at least one US fan that will gleefully tell me that they’ve been a DDM member since the very beginning because the presales are worth “the small price of membership”. ¬†Sure, it’s not an astronomical cost to join DDM, but as long as people continue to pay – there is absolutely no motivation to change what members complain about on a daily basis. ¬†Personally I feel that the DDM loyalty is completely misplaced.

Ultimately, the point of a paid fan community is getting lost in the translation, especially for those fans in places where VIP packages of any type aren’t even being offered. ¬†If that were the only problem with DDM, it might be overlooked, but that is only the beginning. ¬†Fans have been screaming of the obvious, glaring issues from its inception. ¬†Surveys have been filled out and returned, with only very select and small problems being addressed and changed (and its important to note that the changes have not necessarily been in the best interest of the fans by any means). ¬†In this day and age where Direct to Fan marketing is being heralded as the “new model” for the industry, I have to ask where the intelligence is in simply ignoring the requests of entire fan bases, such as the one in South America where fans are begging for their chance to enjoy a Duran Duran concert in VIP style. ¬†At the very least – offer up some early entry for these loyal fans!

DDM has cited membership numbers, market demand and promoters as reasons behind the decisions to offer or not offer VIP packages. ¬†Here is what I know for certain: if packages are not offered, and the “exclusivity” of being a fan club member doesn’t exist – membership numbers most definitely won’t rise on their own just due to a great album or a wonderful tour. ¬† Try again, Duran Duran. The one very small sales tactic that Duran Duran and their management continue to forget is that sometimes in order to have GAIN, you actually have to GIVE. ¬†Its simply not enough to put out a great record, announce some concert dates and sit back to wait.

-R

Pleasant Surprise

I was dreading the moment when I would sit down to write today’s blog. ¬†I’ve had this feeling before during specific moments this past year – not every day is happiness and sunshine, right? We all have those times and we all get through them as best we can. ¬†Last night I was a complete bundle of stress and nerves, and I can say that it had everything to do with this band.

Yesterday Amanda forwarded me an email she’d received from Artist Arena, simply stating that my Valley Center tickets would be available at Will Call the day of the show and not mailed out. At the time, I remember wondering why she’d gotten the email, given the fact that the tickets were purchased in my name. (by Amanda – she did it as a favor while I was on vacation this summer and did not have internet access) ¬†It wasn’t until later in the day when I stopped to consider the entirety of the situation that I started to panic. ¬†You see, Amanda bought my VIP tickets to the Valley Center show. ¬†Since she was the one purchasing the tickets, she used her credit card, and as such she entered her name in the billing information – which one is SUPPOSED to do. ¬†My name was entered for shipping since the tickets were coming to me, and the entire transaction was credited to my Artist Arena account. (she used my login info with my permission. ¬†Obviously.) ¬†Normally this wouldn’t pose a problem because the hard tickets would be sent to me – but because this is now a Will Call show, I have to bring the email confirmation to get my tickets. ¬†Immediately I emailed Artist Arena, explaining the situation, and in the meantime I checked through the FAQ on the Artist Arena site. ¬†As it turns out, the person who picks up the tickets must be listed in the Billing information…and Artist Arena will not change this information (which I can’t really blame them for that policy in this day and age). ¬†The trouble of course is that Amanda doesn’t live in California, and she won’t be out here for this show. ¬†Then I really started freaking out. ¬†My children were home, so I didn’t dare start throwing things or using a good picture of the band as the target on my dartboard (a slight exaggeration since this really isn’t their fault). ¬†I sat calmly and realized that, once again, I may not be seeing this band. ¬†Yet I paid over $500 for this show (two tickets) that I wouldn’t be getting back. ¬†I emailed Amanda and tried to remain calm. ¬†I shredded beef in preparation for our dinner. ¬†Then Amanda called, and after I finished saying that if I couldn’t get into this show that I was all done with this band….enough was enough. (Again, this isn’t their fault but I am human – and I was very upset at that moment and it’s been a really rough year for me with that band. ¬†Wow.), we came up with a plan of several people to email. ¬† To make matters more confusing, the transaction is in MY account history on Artist Arena – not Amanda’s, and I received the order confirmation directly from Artist Arena. ¬†However, the updated notice about the tickets being at Will Call went to Amanda, not me. ¬†Both names were on the order, however, and it’s very clear to both of us that Artist Arena wasn’t at all sure whom they should contact and when. ¬†¬†I mentioned that I would blog about it this morning, not necessarily to whine and complain, but to make everyone else aware that if this ever happens to you – where you need someone to purchase your tickets – don’t do it the way we did!! ¬† This pubic service announcement provided by Daily Duranie. ¬†ūüôā

After my phone call with Amanda, I had a hard time eating dinner. ¬†I just felt sick. ¬†$500 is a lot of money to lose on a show, and at that point, we’d gotten nowhere with Artist Arena. ¬†I’d called them earlier in the day and gotten nowhere fast (the phone just rang and rang), and then Amanda called and gotten the voice prompt run-around. ¬†I couldn’t sit still after dinner, and I did not sleep well last night at all. ¬†I got up this morning, checked my email – and there was nothing. ¬†I kept going over everything in my head, knowing that in the future, I’d learned my lesson. ¬†Amanda and I must always go to the same shows!

I thought about what I would say in this blog. ¬†I didn’t want to sound like a whiny baby, because ultimately, Amanda and I made a mistake when tickets were ordered. ¬†We didn’t realize my name had to be under billing, and although I still think that policy is off (the tickets should go to the person they are being shipped, no matter what.), the bottom line is that we didn’t see the FAQ until it was too late. ¬†I didn’t want to sound mad and upset, but of course I was. ¬†How could I not? ¬†I also didn’t want to have people come down on me for writing about my experience – which I’ve personally seen happen on other message boards. ¬†So, I really didn’t know how the blog would read today. ¬†Thankfully, it has a good ending.

It wasn’t until after I’d gotten home from taking my son to school that an email appeared in my in-box from someone at Artist Arena that my fears were put to rest. ¬†Purely because of the fact that Amanda had the foresight to have both of our names on the order in some fashion – they were willing to make sure the tickets were put in my name for the show, and I thanked them profusely for doing so. ¬†I have heard plenty of complaints about Artist Arena, and while I am sure many if not all are founded in fair reasoning – Amanda and I have been lucky.

One thing I will¬†say, however – is that their reasoning behind using the name on the billing information is not sound. ¬†To begin with, most credit card companies insist that the billing information (name, address, etc) matches the name of the purchaser – so it’s not like Amanda could have put my name down as the purchaser and then used her credit card without that being called into question. ¬†I suppose I could have given Amanda my credit card number – and actually I’d asked her if she wanted it, but she felt more comfortable using her own and just having me pay her back. (we obviously trust one another completely – I would never openly suggest such a thing to other people who may not know one another as well.) ¬†There are many, many situations where things like this can happen, and so my only advice is “Buyer Beware…and read the FAQ’s before you order!!” ¬†Make sure you always have both names on the order if you’re ordering for someone else and are using your own credit card, because you never know when your show is going to end up being Will Call.

So, for any band members that may or may not be reading: this is your fair warning. ¬†I will be in the audience in Valley Center. ¬†3rd row, Dom’s side. ¬†I look forward to rocking out and coming out of that show sweaty and happy! ¬† It’s only going to be slightly awkward trying not to be overly emotional (aka screaming and yelling) with my husband standing right next to me… you’d think he’d be used to this by now, but as he mentioned last night – he’s never been this close to the stage with me before. ¬†I’m almost worried for him!

(Nah…I do wish Amanda were going to be there with me though!)

I hope everyone who has tickets to shows has a great time. ¬†I know that I will…and that this is just the beginning. ¬†My real triumphant moment will come in late November and December when a great personal dream of mine comes true and I see the band in their homeland. ¬†It’s going to happen this time!

-R

Fall Tour Presale Review!

I spent yesterday morning dealing with presales.¬† I had to buy Chicago for myself and L.A. and Valley Center for my partner-in-crime.¬† Chicago was first as DDM/Artist Arena has the tickets going on sale at 10 am, local time.¬† Unfortunately, this meant that¬†LA and Valley Center were on sale at the same time.¬† We ran into the same problem when buying for the UK shows way back in January.¬† At that time, we split up the duty and each of us¬†bought a show.¬† This wouldn’t work for me now because Rhonda is out of town.¬† It was up to me and me alone.¬† As the morning went past, I couldn’t help but to compare it to previous presales and wonder how other people were doing with it and how the ticket sales were going.

I¬†am not a novice when it comes to buying tickets through Duran’s fan club.¬† I have done it many, many, many times.¬† In fact, when Rhonda and I are planning a tour, I’m usually the one to buy tickets and she deals with the hotels.¬† It works out well.¬† Going into the Chicago presale I was worried.¬† I knew that the venue is very small (3600)¬†and definitely one of the smallest on this tour.¬† I also remembered trying to get tickets there in 2007 when Duran was playing at the Christmas show.¬† I was not successful that day.¬† I had to wonder if the venue just simply doesn’t give the fan club that many tickets to sell.¬† As I got ready, I acknowledged the difference between Artist Arena and DDM of the past.¬† Now, Artist Arena lists¬†all of the shows in order of which they will be taking place whereas back in the day each show¬†was separated.¬† They don’t put the ones going on sale at the top¬†so that they are easy to find.¬† Nope, that would be too helpful or something.¬† Chicago is towards the end of the tour so not only did I have to keep hitting refresh while waiting for the tickets to go on sale but I had to get¬†to the second page.¬† An additional step.¬† Not nice.¬† Of course, then, you have pick out your¬†show from the list and the right kind of¬†tickets (regular or VIP).¬† Nothing is really separated¬†so I always fear that I’m going to hit the¬†wrong¬†button and realize it too late.¬† Luckily for me and my cousin-in-law who is going with me, I was successful with getting¬†our tickets.¬†¬†Unfortunately, it seems like a ton of people weren’t.¬† In fact, I was surprised at how many people didn’t get tickets.¬† On top of that, it seemed like a lot of people didn’t get great seats.¬† The best seats I have seen so far for VIP is 2nd row in the pit.¬† I lucked out with 4th but a lot of VIPs are in the 5th or 6th row.¬† Ouch.¬† The best I have seen for the regular seats is 16th row, but most¬†are a lot further back.¬† ¬†This is definitely a change from how things used to be.¬† It used to be that VIP meant you would be in rows 1-5.¬† Then, there were tiers for regular seats with good regular seats in Tier 1 meant rows 6-15.¬† This seems totally random now.¬† That’s not cool.¬† Of course, there is one good thing that people really like.¬† We know exactly where we are sitting.

After the Chicago presale which lasted all of three minutes as it appeared to be sold out by 10:03, I got more coffee and tried to relax before the California shows went on sale.¬† I decided to phone in some help, which, in this case, was my mother.¬† I figured she could sit at one computer, refresh and get 2 tickets in the basket for one show while I finished the other one.¬† She arrived at 11:30 and I tried to show her what it was going to be like.¬† By 5 minutes to, we were both sitting at computers and ready to go.¬† My mom, at that point, declared that this was horribly stressful!!!¬† Tell me something I don’t know, Mom!¬† She got anxious even though she isn’t going to any of the shows.¬† Too funny!¬† Once again, though, I cursed the idea that multiple shows would go on sale at the same time.¬† Does that even make any sense?¬† Do Duranies just go to one show?!¬† Don’t some Duranies travel?¬† In this case, it is even more dumb since they are close together, geographically.¬† Frankly, they are hurting their business by doing it this way.¬† It isn’t a way to encourage people to go to multiple shows and if they still do, many will have to find alternative means of buying tickets.¬† Soon enough, though, the clock flipped to 12:00 and I was ready to buy.¬† The Valley Center tickets I was buying for worked out easily and Rhonda has great seats!¬† My mom, on the other hand, was struggling because there were multiple ticket prices to choose from.¬† By the time I got over to the other computer and picked the best I could, the seats were bad.¬† ūüôĀ¬† We did the best we could.¬† Not fun.¬†

The rest of the afternoon was spent checking out the boards, twitter and facebook to hear about how other people did.¬† A lot of people struggled and did not get what they wanted.¬† Not good.¬† It seems that many people received weird error messages or were told to click on some link while attempting to buy Chicago.¬† WTH?¬† Definitely not good, especially when the tickets went that fast.¬† While I was having difficulty buying tickets for multiple shows, others were having problems with the two ticket limit.¬† While I get that you don’t want to have people buy a whole bunch of tickets, 2 is pretty tight, especially for larger venues.¬† That sucks for those people who want to go together but can’t now.¬† Another thing that came up a few times was the prices.¬† The Chicago tickets were exactly what I had expected based on the price listed on ticketmaster and the additional cost of VIP.¬† Valley Center, on the other hand, seemed a lot more expensive than what ticketmaster plus VIP should have cost.¬† I heard the same was true for Cleveland.¬† That’s definitely not good.¬† Other people commented that the ticket prices, overall, seemed high.¬† I have to agree.¬† I wonder what is up with that.¬† The Montreal presale was taking place at the same time the Amex one was, according to some people.¬† Hmm…

It seems that it was a standard presale in that there were some happy campers, like me, but many who weren’t.¬† It definitely seems to me that there are many things that Artist Arena could do to make the experience better and easier for us.¬† Last night, I checked to see how the presales were coming along.¬† Did DDM sell anything out?¬† If so, which ones?¬† It appears that they have sold out both the regular tickets and the VIP tickets for the following shows:¬† Everett, Washington, Saratoga, California, Atlanta, Georgia and Chicago, Illinois.¬† Hmm…Saratoga and Atlanta were the only shows for a very long time.¬† Is it possible that a lot of people decided to go to those shows because they were the only ones available?¬† Makes sense to me.¬† This leaves just Everett and Chicago.¬† It seems to be that Chicago didn’t have many tickets available.¬† I wonder if this is the same situation for Everett.¬† Artist Arena did sell out some more regular tickets for the following shows:¬† Portland, Vegas, Grand Prairie, Colorado, Philadelphia and Atlantic City.¬† There are tickets still available for those shows, just not with DDM and Artist Arena.¬† I have to admit that I’m a little surprised that there hasn’t been more sold out.¬† I wonder why.¬† Is it the bad economy?¬† Is it that people are sick of DDM and their presales?¬† I hope that the shows do end up selling well, no matter where or how the tickets get purchased.¬†

For me, I’m thrilled to be going and do not regret my choice to go VIP.¬† I don’t think now is not¬†the time to put off a good concert experience or wait for them to come back.¬† We have to enjoy them while we can.¬† They won’t be around forever and seeing all of the postponed dates reminded me of that.¬†

-A

Some Things Never Change!

Today, tickets went on sale for Duran’s Atlanta show in October through Artist Arena and DuranDuranMusic, their online fan community.¬† It seems that whenever a presale happens, there is always a great deal of discussion/complaining, depending on how you look at it.¬† This lead me to think back over the last six months or so and how I think things are going with the official fan community, including these presales.

I am a member of DDM and have been for a long time.¬† While I wasn’t there right from the beginning, I have been there most of the time.¬† I have never left, either, once I joined.¬† In fact, I recently decided to renew and upgrade to the gold membership package.¬† Why did I decide to stay and even upgrade with all of the fan complaints about it?¬† Good question.¬† I can’t imagine NOT being a member.¬† This isn’t some sort of “I need to be a member there to show that I’m a fan” thing.¬† It isn’t about that.¬†¬†Of course, I like some of the¬†features that come along with my membership.¬† I admit that I enjoy the monthly Katy Kafes as I think they give us an insight into the band members that we don’t often get and don’t really get with official interviews.¬† Those are not worth the money, though.¬† What about the message board?¬† Well, I go and check it out but I’m not a regular poster there or anything.¬† The board is becoming more and more of a ghost town as people have left due to the drama that can be found there or due to the fact that the guys themselves have discovered social networking.¬† Thus, the message board isn’t worth it, either, for me.¬† What about the extra merch that comes with the upgrade to the gold package?¬† I can admit that I’m looking forward to getting some of the items that comes with the gold package (messenger bag, keychain, t-shirt, etc.), but still that isn’t worth the money.¬† For me, though, it is all about the presales.

I can already hear fans grumbling at that statement, especially after the Atlanta presale today.¬† I can definitely acknowledge and sympathize with people’s frustration.¬† I completely agree that they do not do them well with the extremely short notice given.¬† Atlanta is obviously a good example of this.¬† Most of the fans knew that this date was true because it had been on the venue’s website and even appeared on ticketmaster.¬† Interestingly enough, as of this morning, that show still wasn’t listed on dd.com, the band’s official website.¬† How was this presale announced?¬† I only saw it on the band’s facebook and twitter.¬† What happens to those fans who aren’t involved with these social networking sites?¬† I guess it was listed on DDM’s site, but many fans, even those who are members skip over that main page and go right to the forum.¬† How did they find out about it?¬† Then, of course, there is the factor of timing.¬† When was this presale announced?¬† Yesterday.¬† It was announced, literally, within hours of the actual event.¬† How does that help the fan?¬† It doesn’t, of course, as they are many fans who might not have been online to see this announcement.¬† Now, these complaints are common as they seem to happen over and over again.¬† What can be done about this?¬† Obviously, one can either choose not to deal with DDM or one can accept the fact that this is how it is done.

Once one assumes that this is how presales will be done with DDM/AA, then, it is on the fan¬†to check frequently the band’s social networking sites for¬†any and all presale notices.¬† I, for one, accept that, even, if I don’t like it.¬†¬†I have to put up with it in order to get to participate in the presales.¬† The presales have pretty much always worked out for me.¬† I think my worst seats through DDM were 11th or 12th row.¬† Can non-DDM members say that?¬† I don’t know.¬† Maybe they can.¬† Maybe people have found other means of getting tickets.¬† I do know that there are many ticket brokers out there, but, generally, I suspect people will have to pay quite a bit to have seats like I have had.¬†¬†I rarely VIP, too, so these are regular presale tickets that I’m talking about here.¬†

Yes, the system sucks.¬† The lack of notice is an issue.¬† The communication is an issue.¬† I am dealing with it myself as I have been emailing Artist Arena over and over again in regards to some of the UK tickets we still have.¬† Yes, I’m annoyed that I haven’t gotten a response.¬† That said, I will still choose to work with them because they have the product I want.¬† Now, if someone has a good way of getting them to change some of their practices without actually giving up the membership, let me know.¬† I’ll do it.¬† I’ll encourage others.¬† Right now, though, I have no means of forcing them to change their behavior because I’m not willing to give up the presales.¬† I’ll put up with the crap for the better seats.

-A

It’s Pre-Sale Wednesday!!

That’s right kids – today is pre-sale day for many of you out there! ¬†I honestly and truly hope things went well.

I grabbed myself a cup of coffee (while I really wanted buttery popcorn) and sat down to check out the happenings this morning. ¬†I even ventured on over to DDM to gain a quick check of the insanity…

Overall, I think that many found the change from DDM to Artist Arena to be nothing short of chaotic. ¬†For every tale of triumph, there were two or three rants of frustration. ¬†Apparently, VIP tickets for Foxwoods were sold out before the sale even started (a SLIGHT exaggeration on my part – but only by a minute!), and I think the same could be said for Fillmore. ¬†Both presales are now sold out to the best of my knowledge – which is pretty amazing and I’m thankful that the UK sales didn’t go quite that way for us. ¬†We’d have had heart attacks for sure.

I definitely have seen some differences in the way presales are handled under Artist Arena that I’m willing to share. ¬†Again, this is just MY view of things – if you didn’t find it this way or don’t agree, so be it.

1. If you’re really wanting to sit anywhere from 10th row forward and want to do presale – you’d better consider VIP, unless we’re talking GA in which case – that’s an entirely different animal. ¬†I hate saying that, but I’ve yet to see a situation where someone has done regular presale and gotten anywhere farther to the front than 10th row. ¬†If you don’t want to go VIP – consider waiting and trying your luck at a general sale (see below) or go through a broker – don’t send me hate mail for suggesting either of those things. ¬†ūüôā

2. On the subject of the cost of VIP: I go to enough shows to know how much tickets cost these days, and the fact is – if you want up front, you’re gonna have to pay for it unless you’re extremely lucky. ¬†I am not. ¬†It’s up to you to decide how much is too much. ¬† Done.

3. ¬†Don’t be surprised to see VIP sell out quickly here in the states. ¬†People want up front and are willing to pay for it. ¬†Period. ¬†In the UK presales, I didn’t see that same type of frenzy. ¬†I don’t know what that really says about our US culture other than we want top-of-the-line luxury things yesterday and are willing to go into serious debt to get them.

4. ¬†I think Artist Arena plays a sort of game with their ticket allocations. ¬†They set aside a lower number of VIP seats/tickets per show to begin with, wait for them to sell out and then add more as necessary. ¬†This probably accounts for part of the reason why when you go to the site you’ll see VIP sold out, then refresh and see there are some available…I’m not positive of this….but I suspect it to be the case. ¬†I think this helps to create demand, and it also allows Artist Arena the opportunity to say VIP is sold out. ¬†This is made VERY clear when the day of the regular sale approaches and every single VIP is suddenly sold out, and then just as suddenly there are a few more VIP packages made available for a limited time.

5. Make SURE you’ve set up your Artist Arena account ahead of time. ¬†That takes precious time.

6. ¬†You can’t buy regular pre-sale & VIP tickets in the same “cart”. ¬†That means you either do two separate purchases or work it out amongst your friends to each buy a show’s worth of tickets.

7. ¬†We had trouble with the system going wonky on us at times – we found that we had to logout completely and try again. ¬†I know, it wastes time – but if nothing else is working, you might be left with this option. ¬†I sincerely hope that when the full tour is announced that presales don’t all take place at the same time (they haven’t been thus far and the system has still gone weird on us at times) – otherwise I can promise the system will crash. ¬†We Duranies are good that way!

One other commentary I have is on the whole “Will Call” situation. ¬†Apparently for the US shows there was a 2 ticket per cart maximum, which makes buying tickets even tougher. ¬†Yet Artist Arena allows a 4 ticket per show maximum. ¬†(still a pain, but reasonable) ¬†On top of that, in order to curb scalping, several venues were “will call” pick up only. ¬†Above all else, this irritates me. ¬†I buy tickets to all kinds of different bands – Bon Jovi, INXS, Paul McCartney, Def Leppard, Poison….many others. ¬†The only case where I have run into not getting my tickets delivered to me electronically or dealing with a two ticket limit has been Duran Duran. ¬†I have to wait for them to be mailed a week before the event, or I have to pick them up at will call. ¬†I think it’s ridiculous. ¬†Are Duran Duran tickets really that much more likely to be scalped than any of the others??? ¬†Really?? ¬† I just feel that at this point, buying tickets to see this band shouldn’t require jumping through this many hoops. ¬†I can’t be the only one feeling that way.

-R