What's the point of a U2.com membership?

For years, U2 fans around the world have paid for a U2.com membership for one primary reason: to get the first chance to buy concert tickets in the members-only pre-sales.

But … how many U2.com members know that they’re not always getting the first crack at buying U2 tickets? Check out this screenshot from an email that’s being sent out this week to Citi credit card holders. (You can click for a larger version.)

Citi card presale timing

Citi card holders have a pre-sale that starts at 10:00 am tomorrow. And here’s the screenshot from the U2.com pre-sale page. Notice anything similar?

U2.com presale timing

Both pre-sales start at the same time. To be frank, that sucks. Even worse, several fans on Twitter replied to us this morning saying that some 2009 pre-sales happened before the U2.com pre-sale.


And remember, too, that U2.com has changed its rules on fan club groupings. It used to be that Propaganda members, the fans who were paying for membership for years/decades, were “at the front of the line” when it came to be ordering fan club tickets – they were the “Horizon” group. Now? Horizon, Boots, and Breathe members are all buying tickets at the same time. A scalper who joined the fan club months ago has the same access as a 20-year fan club member.

So really … considering all this, what’s the point of having a U2.com membership these days?

Well, maybe this: Before the Pittsburgh show went on sale a few weeks ago, I had access codes for five separate pre-sales. The only one that offered GA tickets was the U2.com pre-sale. Might’ve been coincidence. Might not. But if that’s the only true benefit of a U2.com membership, don’t you think U2.com should explain as much?

33 Responses to What's the point of a U2.com membership?

  1. U2Wanderer November 2, 2010 at 12:26 pm #

    The Bears and the Vancouver one both did not offer GA tickets. Nor did the early Toronto presale. I checked all of those options. Including the Citi presale for New York in 2009.

    Nor did they seem to offer as wide a range of seats in these other presales. At least one of them offered pretty crappy seats in comparison to what one could pull up in the u2.com presale.

    It was pretty obvious in 2009 if you wanted a GA, or a good seat, then the presale to be in was the u2.com one, not one of the team presales.

  2. sz November 2, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    your making way to much out of this, I work in the ticketing business, and the bottom line is ticketmaster can pre set these sales up so that different groups have different allocations, so even though the time may be the same, the locations can be junky. It seems the U2 presales have a pretty much limitless allocation of good seats. I work for a team that hosted a u2 show this year (or it was delayed till next year) and our season ticket holders had a presale, but the tickets were not nearly as good as the u2.com presale allocation, even though they want off at similar times. Ticket systems are much more complicated that you seem to percieve them being, its not a bottomless pit of tickets starting from good to crummy depending on which one is first

  3. Tim November 2, 2010 at 12:43 pm #

    The only reasons I belong to U2.com are the pre-sales and the “limited edition” cds and stuff. However, go look on ebay, you can get most of that stuff pretty cheap. I bought the Artificial Horizon vinyl set for $12 bucks, unopened in perfect shape a few weeks ago, glad I didn’t spend the money on U2.com.

  4. U2Wanderer November 2, 2010 at 12:44 pm #

    Here’s what the subscriber package offers:
    – exclusive subscriber-only video from the 360 Tour
    – interviews with the band and those they work with as well as archived news documenting the entire U2 story
    – In Zootopia you can chat and blog in the busiest community of U2 fans anywhere and stay connected with our Twitter and Facebook feeds
    – And when you sign up, we’ll create your own U2 email address (‘yournamehere@U2.com’).
    – A collectors-edition CD, it will be pressed up in a custom-designed sleeve only for U2.com subscribers and released in Fall/Winter 2010.
    – subscribers to U2.com get the chance to enter a special presale for tickets – ahead of the public onsale.

    They don’t offer first access to tickets. They don’t offer the best tickets. They just offer access to a presale. They’ve stopped offering first and best access to tickets going back to the Vertigo tour and the mess that surrounded that.

    Ever since that first presale they’ve made it clear that they only offer a presale. They do not guarantee tickets. They do not guarantee ticket locations. And they do not guarantee being first to buy them.

    But what I have seen time and time again with these presales (and I’ve checked out many – through amex, through sportsteams, through live nation in spain etc) is that the u2.com presale seems to offer all ticket levels where most do not. And as well the seats available seem better in the u2.com presale than in others. And finally the u2.com presale seems to have an overall greater quantity of tickets…

  5. m2 November 2, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    SZ – as I suggest at the end, I’m well aware that U2.com presales have had better seats. The point is that fan club ticket presales are no longer the difference-maker that they were in the past.

    If U2.com won’t admit that its presales are no longer the first presales, we’ll make sure fans know that.

    If U2.com won’t admit that GA ticket access is the only benefit now compared to all these other presales, we’ll let fans know that, too. Remember, not all fans want GA tickets.

    And ticket availability aside, someone needs to keep speaking up about the fan club eliminating benefits for longtime members. Again, we’ll take that on as our job since no one is saying anything.

    Just trying to make sure fans are fully informed, like we’ve been doing for 15 years now.

  6. m2 November 2, 2010 at 12:47 pm #

    “They don’t offer first access to tickets. They don’t offer the best tickets. They just offer access to a presale. They’ve stopped offering first and best access to tickets going back to the Vertigo tour and the mess that surrounded that.”

    Exactly. So, as the blog post asks, what’s the point of membership? 🙂

  7. U2Wanderer November 2, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

    When have tickets been a point of membership anyway? I can get my tickets through Ticketmaster just fine in most case. Even the valued GAs. It’s not hard to get tickets to stadium shows in general.

    Why do i keep my fan club membership, having recognized this years ago?!

    – i use my 25% coupon in the u2.com store each and every year.
    – i enjoy the double cd i get each year, and look forward to it. each year there has been something on it that is new and unreleased in a non-compressed format.
    – i like having my tickets bought simply and quickly ahead of the general public so i don’t have to be panic stricken in the general sale.

    Do you spend $40 to go out and buy the deluxe edition of the CDs as they come out? Then the CD offer is likely something that might interest you.

    A lot of people like the insider clips and the community at u2.com as well. Personally I don’t really use either. But I do frequently check out willie’s diary which i also believe is a subscriber only feature.

    There’s content there. And I’m happier with what my money buys me these days than back in the days of Prop when money just got you old news 3-4 months behind in a magazine format. I think the exclusive cds are a huge jump forward in content for the fan club. I personally love them.

  8. Tim November 2, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    The pessimist in me asks, will U2.com’s pre-sale offer GA’s next tour or will those quantities be severely cut down or eliminated entirely? Or something like that….

  9. Grinch November 2, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

    The Citi presale is only for the $500+ VIP packages.

    Fan club members arent missing out on anything. It will be very easy to get GA or any other priced tickets during the U2.com presale.

  10. m2 November 2, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    Tim, that’s the most important thing. A lot of fans don’t care about any of this right now because tickets are so easy to come by on this stadium tour. That’s why there’s an implicit “you shouldn’t be posting this/you’re wrong” in some of the replies here and on Twitter.

    But just wait until the next tour when U2 is back in arenas and instead of 80,000 tickets per show, there are 15,000 – 20,000. Everybody will be pissed then that Prop members aren’t being honored anymore, that U2.com presales happen at the same time as (or later than) other presales, etc. And it’ll be that way because fans ignored it this time around. We’re just trying to make fans aware of the way presales are working now. The more we all know, the better off we all are.

  11. m2 November 2, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    “Fan club members arent missing out on anything. It will be very easy to get GA or any other priced tickets during the U2.com presale.”

    Right, Grinch. Understood. That’s not what this about. This is about the way presales overall are being handled now. It’s much different than on past tours, and very little has been said about the changes. And these changes will certainly be in place on the next tour, when it will not be as easy to get GAs and we’ll all feel the effects.

    Again, just making sure fans are informed.

  12. savoyard November 2, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    Although the U2.com site has improved over the years, the $50 membership fee isn’t really justified. I have paid it in the past to get tickets, but I probably could’ve gotten GA tickets on ticketmaster. I like getting the CD, but they usually only contain one or two songs that I haven’t heard before.
    $25-30 would be a fair price for what you get.

    @u2 is updated more frequently and it’s free.

  13. Sherry November 2, 2010 at 3:45 pm #

    The most obvious reason why I continue to be a member is because I’ve been a member of U2’s fanclub since 1988. It’s my connection to something “official,” however corporate it has become. Gone are the days of getting personal postcards or such, however in the same way you pay dues to a fraternity, sorority, professional organization, etc., what you’re paying for besides the access is the ability to say you are indeed a member of their fanclub. I’m an old-timer when it comes to this, but I believe there’s something to be said that you’re supporting the cause.

    As far as things that they used to offer but don’t include being able to use the 25% discount on *anything* in the U2.com shop. Members couldn’t use the discount on the Artificial Horizon 12″, for example.

    I’ve finally gotten over the “what’s in it for me” as this will be year #6 of them going online with their fanclub, and only now are the powers that be at U2.com starting to listen to the paying subscriber. The redesign of the site is an example of that. Can they do more? Of course! The band themselves could be more interactive with fans in Zootopia, for example, but there are so many layers to the U2.com onion (as I’ve said in OTR on @U2), it’s not as easy as it may seem.

    It is what it is, and for me, Willie’s Diaries and the gift are well worth the price of the subscription. I also like the subscribers-only contests they have.

    In many ways, I miss the magazine-style fanclub, however I do like the fact that I’m finding out U2 news from the source faster than every 9-16 months (or longer).

  14. u2search November 2, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    What is the point in having 5 levels of presale access when most people have already used up their presale codes?

    I trust they will change the rules again for a new tour – and probably more than just the groups.

    And what’s the problem with having another group with presales access? Both groups have access before the general sale starts and that is what I want. Be realistic: season tickets holders pay for their rights too and they where in that stadium way before U2 was there.

  15. Lance A Schart November 2, 2010 at 6:59 pm #

    I’ve been contemplating this same issue for weeks. My friends and family fear hell has frozen over because I might let me membership expire.

    I’ve been a paying member for TWENTY (20!) YEARS (despite job losses, lean years without albums or tours tours; 18-24 month stretches without a printed edition of Propaganda; OR bogus the “nothing’s really new to the hard core U2 fan” giveaway CDs).

    ADVANCE ticket access IS the #1 reason to join U2.com; always has been.

    But now, I don’t believe I’m getting ANY benefit from my U2.com membership. And here’s why:

    1) M2/@U2 is a MUCH broader, more frequent, and highly RELIABLE source of U2 news! (You can quote me.)

    2) U2.com doesn’t tell fans “what” will be on the give away CDs (until you’ve paid)! I’m guessing I have all of the “DUELS” already (again).

    3) I don’t want or need a U2.com e-mail address.

    4) Zootopia is useless; it’s merely a pissing match to determine whose the bigger “mega fan”!

    5) A 20% discount on remnant t-shirts for shows I didn’t attend is useless. Be like Brian Eno or Daniel Lanois; offer unique, fan club only deluxe items. (I have enough U2 lithographs already).

    6) The U2.com video clips are edited down –you never get a complete song (I can get that on YouTube for FREE).

    7) And most importantly, let’s be honest, the music hasn’t been that good lately… At last check, none of U2’s last SEVENTEEN (17!) singles during the past nine years have charted higher than 21 (“Boots” peaked at 37 for ONE week before dropping completely off the charts; 8 songs didn’t even make the Hot 100 chart!) There’s been some good songs, but nothing that makes me ache to hear “new U2”.

    Thanks for rattling the cage, Matt. Hopefully SOMEONE at LIveNation/Principle Mangement/Not US Limited is listening.

    In the meantime, come 1/1/11, Is there somewhere I can send cash to “subscribe” to @U2.com?

  16. mobo November 2, 2010 at 7:26 pm #

    It is clearly wrong. I called Live Nation last week when I got screwed by u2.com with a bad pre-sale code. I was told “tough.”

    I am tired of a lot of you with your immediate supportive comments, apologizing and supporting a band in danger of completely selling out.

    Many of you are clueless and live in a Bono-friendly dreamworld.

  17. Lance A Schart November 2, 2010 at 7:27 pm #

    Rock on, Mobo.

  18. jdh95 November 2, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

    The “other” item out there is that most folks have seen how a great fan club can be run: Dave Matthews Band (and their management led by Coran Capshaw) are so good at it that they now run the fan clubs for most other major acts…i.e. we know how great it could be…

  19. avm November 3, 2010 at 8:21 am #

    I don’t think Propaganda members should get as much entitlement as you think they should. Sure they’ve been fans for longer, but it doesn’t make them better than people who became fans in say 2004. For me personally, I started listening to U2 when I was 14 in 2005, and got my first U2.com membership last year after I’d gotten my first job, and I sure as hell don’t think that makes me inferior or any less of a fan, I’m just young. So the whole determining of fan status just by who’s had a membership the longest isn’t really accurate or fair.

  20. J November 3, 2010 at 8:21 am #

    Well, if your really that worked up over a membership fee for a band, do what you would normally do when you are dissatisfied with a product or service – stop buying it. Yes it’s really that simple. There is life outside of U2 and their fan membership. Hey, don’t get me wrong, they are my favorite band. But if anyone is really that upset over the current membership offerings and cost, stop stressing about it and just stop buying it.

    Me personally, I like the subscriber content (which they have been increasingly doing more of), I use the coupon, I love the CDs, and I love having the option of having access to buy my tickets in advance of the general sale. The stuff I don’t care about or don’t use, it’s really not that big of a deal. I knew going into the subscription that I would never use the webmail and Zootopia, no comment.

  21. uholdingon2 November 3, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    Propaganda subscribers were promised first access to all venues. I traveled the world following U2, getting good seats in an age without the internet – I remember talking to someone at propaganda in New York when I had a problem – it seems technology has not served U2 all that well in music or the fans.

  22. Donal Murphy November 3, 2010 at 9:37 am #

    I agree subscription is probably the #1 reason to join u2.com.

    I raised the “non staggered nature” of recent U2.com presales on OTR (dated October 17th) , as did Matt before me. This “Change” started with the Australian/New Zealand u2.com presales and went largely unnoticed.

    It is a lack of courtesy that we have not been told the reason for this change in policy. This was always the carrot to keep on renewing to stay in the first priority group.

    Personally I don’t have a problem with venues having a presale to it’s premium members. Very often there are obligations in place that venues have to offer. e.g. Chicago Bears members example above.

    I do have a major problem with the Citi Credit Card holder presale. This is a new departure and is not really acceptable. Are Live Nation selling u2 ticket presale benefits off to the highest bidder ? Sure looks like this to me.

    For the rest of the u2.com content. It has improved, Willies Diaries are particularly good, as is some of the video content.

    But this new ticket presale system is becoming a bit of a joke, and is certainly NOT what we were told we would be getting over recent years.

  23. achtung jeff November 3, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    I *just* renewed my membership. It’s $40 and at this point I’m happy with what I get – presale tix headache avoidance, membership freebie, merch discount. Besides, I’m a longtime Propaganda member and am used to re-upping.

    Matt brings up some good points and I’m thankful that he’s got his eagle eye on the presale saga. I agree that the next time around, we’ll be back to arenas. And if $40/year for the next few years holds me at least some place toward the front of the line (even if Citi, AmEX, Chase, Best Buy preferred members are there too) for a chance to get decent tix at a decent price, I’m OK. I would like to believe that we’ll still get a fair crack at good seats as fans. If all this ceases to be at some time in the future, I’ll have to reevaluate.

    A few tours ago (Vertigo first leg maybe?), Matt posted about people whining about the cost/fairness of fanclub presales vs non-members & general onsale. It went something along the lines of “if you save even $5 per month over 4 years (avg time between tours), that’ll be more than enough to buy you tickets to at least one show.’ I doubt many of us have a U2 tour savings account but that point stuck with me. I approach the membership the same way: $40/365 = no brainer (a dime a day) — oh and I get that other stuff too.

    Bottom line: if people see value in the membership (however they define it), they’ll buy. If they don’t, they won’t.

  24. wmhbstu November 3, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    Thanks Matt! As always, @U2 is putting the fan first and is willing to speak truth to power.

  25. K2 November 3, 2010 at 2:44 pm #

    “In the meantime, come 1/1/11, Is there somewhere I can send cash to “subscribe” to @U2.com?”

    M2 is probably too polite to point it out, but yes, there is: http://www.atu2.com/support/

    Every once in a while I get inspired to drop a little change in the jar.

    I truly love U2, but buying a membership to their fan club is only something I’ll do to get access to tickets, and I’ve found the pre-sale codes really aren’t that helpful anyway.

  26. u2search November 4, 2010 at 3:51 am #

    I think it’s good to have watchdogs out there to keep LN/U2.com in check. And I agree there is/has been much to complain about, especially when presales codes disappear or when a presale starts before you’ve even had the chance to read the anouncement.

    But I think it’s better to concentrate on things that matter, and in my optinion the current issues don’t. Combining presales groups and selling to other interest groups do not pose any sort of treat to long time subscribers as long as there are enough tickets to serve all ahead of general sale.

  27. CJ November 4, 2010 at 5:26 am #

    I think this is not really news at all. For years, post Propaganda time, U2 have given acces to a pre-sale prior to the regular sale. I never read somewhere it was exclusive or the only one.

    When there was a real good Dutch U2 fanclub they offered a pre-sale simultaniously with the U2.com and received tickets from both.

    I think it is clear that when entering the pre-sale you are participating in that precale to make sure of tickets instead of missing the concert when waiting in the line up for the regular sale, where, at least in the Netherlands, the concerts usually sell out in minutes.

    As for me I feel I endorse my favourite band by being a member of U2.com and get a free gift in the form of a CD as well. The pre-sale is just a bonus for me.

  28. partygirl43 November 5, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    There is no point….

    You can get better news here and over at Interference. I can buy GA’s on Stub Hub, or bid on Red Zone tickets at TM (saving myself from ‘day of’ drama). Frankly U2.com is the LAST place I visit for all of my U2 updates and info.

  29. brett (macmango) November 6, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    It’s obvious that fan tenure means nothing to the organization. If it did, there would be something special for those who have been faithful for 10, 20 or more years.

    Everything u2.com does now is to achieve numbers.

  30. badu2fan November 11, 2010 at 4:25 am #

    Take it as a ticket surcharge club. Meaning to get GA tickets you are paying a $50 or $35 fee to have a chance at getting GA tickets and maybe better 250 or 35 seats. But with stubhub and a stadium tour you can get tickets for less.

    The U2.com $$ machine should have covered the loss of the 2010 summer tour in USA but maybe it is being used to pay for Spiderman which is going to lose $$. Even the tickets offered to u2 com fans for Spiderman were the bad seats left over from regular sales…

    Save money no need to be a fan club member. The stuff on the website is not worth 35-50 more a year.

  31. BAMmGRAPHICS November 11, 2010 at 10:32 pm #

    I miss the U2 PROPAGANDA CLUB days.
    You got more perks, surprises and
    magazines! ‘Hands On’ (Lanois term) gems that
    are momentos.

    Now it’s all evaporative
    and digital.

    Plus, Live Nation is too much of a
    bouncer with the ticket sales.

  32. Check November 12, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    For me, a former Propaganda subscriber since 1993 and onward to U2.com subscribrer, I really have to say that the valuation of the membership is really questionable now. Agree with previous comments like:

    “I can get what I want from Youtube”
    “The content, extras and merchandise aren’t great”
    “Don’t need or want a u2.com email address”
    …ad infinitum…

    So what does that leave that makes one feel as if they’re part of the dedicated set called “fans in the fanclub”? Pre-sales offers. For Chicago 1 in 2009, as a fan looking for moderately priced tickets (the $90 version), I got upper deck, near back of the stadium. Crap seats, really but it was a good time none-the-less.

    Not to take this in an unrelated direction but I think there’s some relevance here there with this comment:

    …”supporting a band in danger of completely selling out.”

    I’m afraid that the band and the organization that surrounds it may have evolved into a corporate entity rather than an entrepreneurial venture with music at its core. It seems that within the last several years, things have gotten much more mechanical, much more task-fulfillment / contractural fulfillment based. The albums have some decent songs but the music, the attitude, the passion seem to be usurped by what seems, at times, just going through the motions. The 360 stage is fantastic but I don’t like U2 because of the technological stage and effects. What I’ve been missing as of late is the passion within the music, the passion of live shows, the dedication and connection between the band and its fans, and the notion that somewhere, four guys from Ireland seemed to be in charge of their own destiny of what they initially created. I think their proverbial hands are loosening on the steering wheel and they’re more inclinde to go along for the ride. Which takes me back to the whole point of this article: if the band were really driving their own destiny – actively – we wouldn’t be talking about this at all.

  33. craig November 13, 2010 at 9:56 am #

    Don’t forget the pleasure of crappy remix CD’s!