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Fans trying to see Beyoncé's U.K. Renaissance Tour are already having ticket issues

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Beyoncé fans around the world are thrilled to hear news of the pop superstar's upcoming solo tour. In the U.K., where ticket pre-sales started this morning, would-be concertgoers have been clamoring for seats. But as NPR's Chloe Veltman reports, high prices and ticketing system issues have also brought frustration.

CHLOE VELTMAN, BYLINE: Seun Oyewole was 9 years old when his sister introduced him to Beyoncé's song, "Baby Boy."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BABY BOY")

BEYONCÉ: (Singing) Baby Boy, you stay on my mind, fulfill my fantasies.

VELTMAN: That was around 20 years ago. The Oxford, U.K.-based artist says he's been a die-hard fan ever since.

SEUN OYEWOLE: And I completely fell in love with her energy and just the way Beyoncé does Beyoncé, you know?

VELTMAN: So as soon as Oyewole found out ticket sales had started for the singer's upcoming U.K. dates, he jumped online.

OYEWOLE: And all my friends were on alert as well.

VELTMAN: But so far, no luck.

OYEWOLE: I see there are very few left, and they're very expensive.

VELTMAN: Oyewole says, in the spirit of "Alien Superstar," his favorite song from Beyoncé's new album, he's going to remain calm.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALIEN SUPERSTAR")

FOREMOST POETS: Please do not be alarmed. Remain calm. Do not attempt to leave the dance floor.

MARK SAVAGE: Because this is a Beyoncé solo show, and it's her first one in seven years, the demand is going to be really, really high.

VELTMAN: That's BBC music correspondent Mark Savage. He says the high demand and big entry fees aren't the only issues. The ticketing system went down about 15 minutes before sales started.

SAVAGE: And it stayed inaccessible for a lot of fans until all of the tickets were gone.

VELTMAN: Savage says these problems are growing increasingly common in a post-pandemic world where more people are desperate to get out and see live music. But are Beyoncé fans desperate enough to pay up to 2,000 pounds for a ticket? Savage says such nosebleed prices are an attempt by artists, as well as ticketing companies, to try to beat scalpers.

SAVAGE: And make sure that those inflated prices that people have seen on the secondary market for years end up going into the artist's pocket rather than into scalpers' pockets.

VELTMAN: Here in the U.S., serial Beyoncé concertgoer Ashley Smalls has been watching the ticket-buying frenzy across the pond with some trepidation.

ASHLEY SMALLS: It definitely makes me nervous about what it's going to be like here.

VELTMAN: The New York-based student says she's had trouble buying tickets in the past through Ticketmaster.

SMALLS: I do remember the headache, and I think it was easier back then than now.

VELTMAN: She says she mistrusts the company even more after its botched handling of Taylor Swift ticket sales last November. Swift fans are currently suing Ticketmaster's parent company, Live Nation, over allegations of fraud and antitrust violations. But Smalls says she won't let that or anything else put her off finding a way to score a ticket.

SMALLS: I have a Beyoncésavings fund. I freelance a lot, so I put half of my freelance money into the savings account.

VELTMAN: Smalls says there's about $1,000 in that account right now.

SMALLS: If I had to go over that, would I? I probably would. But it would have to be really good seats. I'm not going to pay $1,000 to be in nosebleeds.

VELTMAN: Ticketmaster plans to start selling tickets for Beyoncé's U.S. dates on Monday. Seven North America stadiums have added second shows. In an email to NPR, a spokesperson said the company will use a lottery-style process to manage the demand.

Chloe Veltman, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: February 3, 2023 at 10:00 PM MST
Ticketmaster is handling U.S. ticket sales for Beyonce's Renaissance tour. The presale in the United Kingdom was run by the company O2.
Chloe Veltman
Chloe Veltman is a correspondent on NPR's Culture Desk.