The 5 1/2 Weeks Tour Online Pre-Sale
Updated May 22, 1999
It was a time consuming process and at times very frustrating, but I was able to buy tickets for several shows of the 5 1/2 Weeks Tour on Friday morning, May 21, 1999, and I am rather pleased with the quality of my seats! Response to this online pre-sale must have been really high, and as a result the servers had a hard time keeping up with all the requests for the first few hours of the event.
Things got off to a slow start. 10:00AM Eastern time arrived and the new alanisandtori.mp3.com site did not appear. The page that was there was the same one that had been there for weeks announcing the tour and asking people to sign up for email notification of the site's launch. At the same time, the first batch of tickets in the Eastern time zone and in Bakersfield, CA went onsale at the Ticketmaster web site. However, my earlier reports that you needed to go to alanisandtori.mp3.com first turned out to be quite true. If you got through at Ticketmaster and tried to buy tickets, their system would reject you immediately saying that your email address was not part of the pre-sale database. Turns out you had to register at the alanisandtori.mp3.com web site first BEFORE your email became part of a database and became valid to Ticketmaster.
This is where a lot of confusion took place. Many people were told by the Ticketmaster web site that their email addresses were not registered in the pre-sale database. Many people were initially confused because they thought they were registered with alanisandtori.mp3.com. For weeks there had been a link at the temporary alanisandtori.mp3.com page asking people to register for email notification on when the actual alanisandtori.mp3.com site would launch. So people were emailing me saying that they were registered but Ticketmaster was rejecting them. However, the registration they had completed was for *EMAIL NOTIFICATION* about the launch of alanisandtori.mp3.com. It was not the official alanisandtori.mp3.com registration! Only after the new alanisandtori.mp3.com site launched later Friday morning were people able to really register their e-mail address through the VIP ACCESS section on the alanisandtori.mp3.com page. Then and only then was your email address valid at the Ticketmaster web site. However, the alanisandtori.mp3.com site did not launch Friday morning until around 11:45AM Eastern time. Up until that point, no one was able to buy tickets at Ticketmaster.
Once you were able to load the new alanisandtori.mp3.com web site, you had to enter the VIP ACCESS section and send them your email address. You were then presented with a list of tour dates, and clicking on them for most shows took you to the Ticketmaster online ordering system. You had to enter your registered email address there, and if it was verified against the alanisandtori.mp3.com database, you were let in to buy tickets!
By the time alanisandtori.mp3.com was finally up and running, Ticketmaster had removed most of the Tori/Alanis shows from the online ordering system because of the problems. This was quickly remedied though and most shows went onsale online again. At that point however, the servers at Ticketmaster became overloaded. From 11:45 until about 2:00PM Eastern you had to spend a great deal of time clicking the links at Ticketmaster and then either watching nothing happen or seeing a variety of Server and Query errors, all caused by the overload on the Ticketmaster servers. The response to this pre-sale promotion was unprecedented, and so it was several hours before the servers could begin to handle the load. Some people were able to get tickets while others had to try and try again. After a few hours, the system improved and things worked much better.
So the two main things about the sale Friday morning was the fact that you had to be registered at the NEW alanisandtori.mp3.com web site first and you had to be very patient or very lucky in your navigation of the Ticketmaster web site. Many people were pleased with their tickets once it finally did work for them! The only appalling thing were the ridiculously high service fees charged by Ticketmaster!
There were a few surprises. One was the 6 ticket limit. I had assumed that the 6 ticket limit was on a per show basis, but the way the system was set up, that limit was for the ENTIRE TOUR! So once you ordered 6 tickets, Ticketmaster would not let you order additional tickets for any of the concerts. For people like me who were buying tickets for many shows, that was a dilemma!
As expected, tickets were *NOT* available for the August 29 Saratoga Springs show, as well as the September 19 Concord, CA show. The Saratoga Springs show was announced later than the rest (It was still listed at TBA at alanisandtori.mp3.com) and so I guess they were not ready. The Concord tickets are expected to be available online on Friday morning, May 28, 1999..
Contrary to what I thought, the Toronto tickets did *NOT* go on sale on Friday, May 21. However, on Saturday morning, May 22, 1999, Ticketmaster Canada started selling them. I don't think you can find the listing at the regular Ticketmaster Canada web site. You must go to alanisandtori.mp3.com, choose Tickets, and then choose the Toronto link.
I was startled to see that the Phoenix, AZ tickets *DID* go on sale, though they were NOT listed at Ticketmaster. To order those you have to call by PHONE ONLY, through Dillards Department Store. The phone numbers are 480-503 5555 and 800-638-4253. Nothing was mentioned about this at alanisandtori.mp3.com and it caught many people by surprise. Fortunately some Toriphiles in Phoenix discovered this information and shared it with us.
The Washington D.C. tickets went on sale, and alanisandtori.mp3.com did direct you to Protix instead of Ticketmaster. This was the only show early on that did not require a confirmed email address from alanisandtori.mp3.com. So people were able to buy tickets online at protix right away with no problems. I was also told that they were accepting orders over the phone as well.
Not all the shows at the Ticketmaster site became available right away. There was a several hour delay before the Pittsburgh/Burgettstown tickets were available. I know that people who were trying to order Detroit tickets encountered unique errors for quite a while, but it gradually cleared up.
I heard there were problems with the KROQ web site, but people were able to get Irvine/LA tickets through Ticketmaster with no problem. I also heard that people using Web TV were unable to buy tickets or had a hard time.
So was it all worth it? I would say yes! Despite the frustrations and delays and the fact that it took me a few hours to get all the tickets I wanted, I managed to get better seats for the shows than I usually do when I use Ticketmaster. And I was sitting at home comfortably the entire time, though it was stressful at times. There is plenty of room for improvement with the process but overall it worked out well for me. They should have been more organized with the promotion and they also should have explained several days in advance how it was going to work. There also should have been an effort to stagger the on sale times for each city. With a little more planning and coordination, this could have went much more smoothly. They even forgot to email people about the alanisandtori.mp3.con site being up until the tickets had already been on sale for hours!
I have received email from many people and it seems that while most people found the experience to be stressful, most are quite pleased with their seats. (Some of the Toriphiles trying for California tickets were not too pleased with their seats however.) The main thing is you had to give it time and be patient. Those that did that were generally successful. I just want to quickly summarize all the ticket buying comments I received by including quotes from some Toriphiles that summarize how people felt about the experience.
Here are the comments of Toriphile Erika, which sums up nicely the thoughts of the many of people who emailed me:
Richard Koppinger thinks that the technology was not up to the task of dealing with all this, at least not smoothly:
Kelly Stitzel adds:
Theodore M. Barnett, M.D. says,
Jason Enany says,
EWF Joanne had a well balanced view of the experience:
However I think they learned their lesson about Tori-fans, who are always there at least 3 hours early, desperate to see their goddess and always always extremely emotional about it. My stomach was in knots the whole time :) Besides that ... it was an overall pleasurable experience since I got great seats and spent a few hours talking with some wonderful people, albeit mostly talking about how frustrated we were.
Most people were happy with their seats, but folks purchasing tickets for Irvine/LA were often not happy with their seats. Here is a sample comment from Nicole
Beth Briedis gave an international perspective to the experience:
Whitney C had this to say that echoed a few people's comments:
Jo Wagner summed up things for some people when she said,
The alanisandtori.mp3.com site itself looks very promising. There is not too much there now, but the content should grow as we get closer to the start of the tour and during the tour. Right now there is the VIP Access section, where you officially register for your exclusive alanisandtori.mp3.com VIP Backstage Pass as they call it. That gives you authorization to pre-order tickets at Ticketmaster. The site also says that "Exclusive music, chats, live streaming events, and more will be available to the lucky fans in possession of the official VIP Backstage Pass. You'll also have access to Alanis and Tori's personal tour scrapbooks -- handpicked collections of photos, lyrics and other personal items that Alanis and Tori will set aside throughout the tour, just for you!"
Right now though you will find links to the official Tori and Alanis sites, as well as Best Buy and MP3.com. You will see the tour schedule with links to Ticketmaster or Protix. There are "Listen to Tori Amos" and "Listen to Alanis Morisette" sections where you can access one streaming track from each artist. For Tori the track is the studio b-side "Honey" and for Alanis it is a live version of "Are You Still Mad." You choose from a streaming MP3 or streaming RealAudio format. To hear the streaming MP3 you have to have the RealPlayer G2 and a fast internet connection, like a cable modem. The RealAudio stream is recommended for modem users. The page with the Tori sound clips includes a link to the Dent!
The design of the site is nice, but the greenish-yellow color scheme on the main page is an odd choice. The photo of Tori and Alanis together is really great and they almost look like sisters!
Please give me feedback, comments, or suggestions about my site. Email me (Michael Whitehead) at firstname.lastname@example.org