Live Music Exchange Blog

Kraftwerk: The Catalogue, Tate Modern, London, Feb 2013 – Mark Reed


Blogger Mark Reed gives a ticking off to the Tate over the Kraftwerk fiasco; in doing so, he puts forward the argument that ticket agencies can be the more efficient option. Reproduced with kind permission from (Planet Me).

Dear Tate Modern,

In the nicest sense of the word, your ticket sale today for Kraftwerk was – shall we say – unsatisfactory.

Your brand is damaged. Thousands of people spent (probably) tens of thousands of hours trying to spend money with you. Everyone who got tickets now thinks your organisational capability is, at best and putting it nicely, poor. Everyone who didn’t wasted a lot of time and effort in order to get …. nothing at all. Everyone who reads about the Tate in the news – and there is such a thing as bad publicity – will know that you are now unable to deliver any event regarding any level of significant organisation and demand.

And why? Somewhere, someone made a decision not to outsource this event. Someone made a decision that either a) the Tate could cope or – as Twitter rumour has it – b) the Tate would not pay a ticketselling company the fee.

With 1,000 tickets a night, and 8 nights, at £60 a ticket, the gross ticket sales are £480,000. With say, for guessworks sake, a ticket company would charge 10% of the gross to manage ticket sales. So, hypothetically, in order to “save” £48,000 you chose to subject thousands of people to thousands of hours of frustration and annoyance, as well as reputational damage to Tate to save yourself £48,000*?
*number may vary

Was it worth it? Your brand is damaged, and thousands of people are very unhappy.

Every part of this event was mismanaged.

On your Twitter you stated “Unprecedented demand”. I’m not sure what ‘unprecedented demand’ you mean, but by that I would interpret that at no time in recent history has there been a case of a modern musuem hosting an 8 night event by Kraftwerk, and also facing the same problems? Have you heard of the New York MOMA? I’m sure you have now. Do your research, guys.

Kraftwerk – as you may now know – are a band that have advocated technology. Their fans are connected to technology in many ways.

I queued for two and a half hours, and got to within 10 people of the ticket desk to be told sold out. I rang you ninety seven times to not even get through. I refreshed your webpage more times than I can recall to see that taken offline at 7.30am. As far as I know, not one person made a sale through the website. I wasted hours of my life to not buy Kraftwerk tickets. And I am just one of thousands of people.

Fans thought after the farce of the New York shows (population, around 8,000,000 – tickets available 3,000), that perhaps if it happened again, they might think of a better method of selling tickets. With typical inscrutability, though, at 7.30am, 8 shows all – allegedly – went on sale, each with a miniscule capacity of 1,000 at £60 a show.

The whole situation : thousands of unhappy fans locked out by your amateurish lack of forethought and disorganisation – was utterly avoidable.

Kraftwerk know that they are in demand. We do. You do. My cat knows. Playing venues that are massively undercapacity for the demand creates nothing but frustration and gloating. In these circumstances, the demand was not only pathetically predictable, but endlessly capable of being coped with. Here’s just a few things The Tate, and the promoters, could have done to make this much less frustrating :


a) Bigger venues. Kraftwerk in a Power Station? Brilliant, if you are one of the 173 people who gets a ticket. If you are one of the thousands who didn’t, no, it isn’t. Play bigger venues. Angry fans who can’t get tickets are not good publicity.

b) Ticket allocation methods : try a Lottery. You email in. You find out if you get tickets or not. You buy tickets within a 24 hour window. No need for teeth gnawing, endless frustration, repeatedly wearing out the F5 button on your browser, overloaded websites, angry Twitter comments, queuing at the ticket offce, and no need to frustrate us all with pages that don’t refresh for tickets you cannot buy.

Time Of Sale

c) 7.30am. You’re kidding, right? I’ve got two children and a job. 7.30am is when I’m corralling a snotty 2 year old and a stroppy 7 year old to go to school and stop drawing on the walls, whilst simultaneously trying to look presentable for work and make it to the station on time. I really don’t need any more to deal with. Put them all on sale at say 8pm when most people are home and can send hours hammering webservers, or even 9am, when most of us should be working. And don’t forget….

d) A clock. We all know what time 7.30am is. But what time does The Tate think it is? How do we know the Tate doesn’t get the time wrong? When AC/DC tickets went on sale four years ago, they had a countdown on the page to when tickets went on sale. At 5 minutes, you had enough time to make a rushed cup of tea if you needed to.

Web Capacity, Hosting, and Managed Demand

e) Capacity. Knowing, as MOMA did, that at best 1.2% of demand could be satisfied – and around 0.5% at best would get through to the ticket landing page, why – in your arrogance – did you think you’d cope? This is the kind of show designed to melt down your server. Think of it, as you will, of the Velvet Underground playing the Dog & Duck in Handsworth. Do your research. Plan. Buy extra capacity. Lease bandwidth. Do anything to make the pages render : including making a deal with Ticketmaster or a Hosted Event Management company to manage this. If U2 can sell a million tickets an hour through one website, the Tate can manage to sell 8,000 tickets online.

f) Sack your IT people. Seriously. Do it now – your HR department should suspend, investigate, discipline, and fire. You shouldnt have thought we can cope. You can’t. Ask MOMA. Ask anyone who tried to buy tickets. There were at least 10,000 people in London who could have told you that perhaps it might be a little in-demand. At least some are unemployed. Buy spare capacity from Twitter or Facebook or Ticketmaster or anyone at all. You have now saved yourself some money and permanently wounded your brands reputation. The message you have now given the world is simple : we cannot cope with big events.

g) In case you missed it, I repeat : Sack your IT people. Who in their right mind would put 8 high demand shows on sale at the same time, from the same webserver, from only one website? That website better be built like Godzilla or the Angry Hulk to cope.

h) Manage demand. A quick google will tell you that Kraftwerk have sold millions of records. A quick google will tell you around over 50,000+ connection attempts were made to get tickets for the New York shows. Do your research.

i) Seriously guys, there’s a huge industry here selling bandwidth and capacity to high demand ticketing agencies, and no one at the Tate seems to have cottoned onto it yet.

Telephone Sales

j) Telephone sales? I tried calling multiple times for it to never even connect. Silence then -dunk, a dead line. Gladys on her own isn’t enough. 97 times I tried. 97 times I failed.97 times you demonstrated your complete failure to manage a entirely predictable situation.

k) Arrogance. I’m sick to death of bands expecting me to jump through hoops like this so I can spend money to see them, Either I get tickets, or I don’t. I’d like to. But unless a reformed Smiths play my back garden and I happen to miss it because I was at Sainsburys, I can get over this stuff. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY. Why was it so difficult to not even spend money with you?


l) Twitter. Your social brand management today has been appalling, and dishonest. You said you weren’t selling tickets in person, and then you did. Hundreds of people flocked to your museum (I estimate somewhere in the region of 800 or so), whilst on the internet you said people couldn’t buy them in person. Don’t lie. You will be found out. At 11.19 you said on Twitter “@natty_w no tickets are on sale in the gallery.” and also to @pcsensible, @progbach, @bernardtyers, @corin_ja at around the same time in multiple cut-and-paste identical tweets, Yet at 10.45am I walked through the gallery and there was a queue of people 50 deep queuing to buy tickets.

l-2) I note that as of 8pm on 12-12-12 you have NOW DELETED THESE TWEETS. Do you think we wouldn’t notice?

Preferential Member Treatment

m) I also understand that you stated that members were not given preferential treatment. How I heard that members (including those that signed up today), could access another phone line and buy tickets in minutes, instead of coming away empty handed after hours?

Situationist Art As Life

n) This is a situationist prank, surely? Selling tickets only by the internet (that doesn’t work) and phones (that never connect) to gigs that are sold out even if you can get through, and lo and behold, the very act of trying to buy tickets is an art installation in itself. There is something so cruelly postmodern around the age of the Computerworld not working. Very droll, but at least let the people know if they are participating in a futile exercise.


And I’m done. I’ll spend that money elsewhere. Your organisation let down London today. The sale was mismanaged. The whole process was frustrating. You amateurishly failed to anticipate demand and damaged your reputation. Thousands of people wasted thousands of hours to cope with your lack of management and planning. You lied and decieved customers on Twitter with mistruths.

Today, Tate demonstrated that sadly, you are incompetent and incapable of basic operations including :

a) anticipating demand
b) selling tickets
c) webhosting
d) being honest with the public
e) any form of event planning, management, or customer management
f) hiring capable, competent informed people
g) doing any basic research into your events and likely demand
h) deleting tweets to try and hid the fact you misled people

All of this could have been avoided simply and easily if you had googled “Kraftwerk performing all 8 records in a museum”, read the results, understood the problems that MOMA had when they tried this, and paid attention. You are guilty of incompetence, a lack of planning, and wasting thousands of hours of thousands of peoples live today. Your brand is massively damaged, and has been hurt by a simple lack of planning and thought. At least MOMA could say no one had ever tried it before. You cannot.

I look forward to your response. I also look forward to – seeing as I queued 150 minutes in a line that you kept telling people didn’t exist, only to see the tickets run out with barely 10 people in front of me – a call when any extra tickets come on sale.

In addition, a public apology, and the resignation of whomever was Project Manager and / or IT for the sale of this event, would restore (a little) public confidence in the Tate, which has been utterly shattered by a futile attempt to buy tickets which was practically impossible due to your own failure to manage this correctly or competently.

Disgusted & Ticketless,

Mark Reed

Please note that this is a forum for discussion, dialogue, and debate, and posts and comments on this blog represent only the author, not Live Music Exchange as a whole, or any other hosting or associated institutions.


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