Face Scanning A Tour

Arashi has become the first idol boy band in Japan to adopt face scanning technology for ticket sales.

The group’s management company, Johnny & Associates, has announced it will introduce the technology for Arashi’s upcoming “Japonism Show” concert tour. Anyone who applies for a ticket must submit a mug shot via email along with their application form. Then, when the ticketholder shows up at the concert venue, a face scanning device will confirm the validity of the ticket. The plan is to cut down on scalpers and secondary market sellers who buy tickets for the express purpose of reselling them at considerable markups.

In the past, Arashi tickets, which average around 10,000 yen each ($93), would go for hundreds of thousands of yen on the resale market. What makes the Arashi example interesting is not so much that their concert tickets are considered the most difficult to attain in Japan, but that all the tickets are sold to fan club members. Only members can apply for them, and there are more members than there are tickets, so just being a member—which makes J&A a huge amount of money in yearly fees beyond the income related to concert revenues—doesn’t guarantee a ticket.

Consequently, many fans buy multiple memberships to increase their chances of seeing their heroes. The only chance a non-member has of attending an Arashi concert is to buy a ticket on the secondary market through sites like Ticket Camp. The new face scanning technology will thus make Arashi concerts even more of a family affair. The new move has drawn a mixed reaction from fans. One high school student told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper that he is happy because the new method prevents so-called ghost fan club members (who use others’ identities) from entering the ticket lottery.

However, an older female fan told Asahi that she thinks it makes it even more difficult for anyone but the most diehard fan to see the group. There is also a concern that, should the successful ticket purchaser become ill or otherwise is unable to attend, there will be no way to resell the ticket. A J&A representative told the paper that, indeed, only tickets sold through “official channels” will allow entry. The technology has already been used at isolated shows by other top acts in Japan, but this is the first time it will be used for a full tour in such a comprehensive way. The Arashi tour started April 23 in Fukui, in western Japan.