I remember when I was 16 years old, begging my parents to let my friends and I camp out at the mall on a Friday night so that we’d be first in line for concert tickets on Saturday morning. This was long before the internet made ticket buying what it is today. We froze our asses off that night but we were first in line for what we thought was the concert event of the decade — Journey.
At 10 a.m., when the sports store that housed the Ticketmaster outlet opened, we proudly approached the counter expecting to walk out with the front row seats we thought we had earned that night in the cold.
But alas, we ended up with nose bleed seats, tucked so far up and back from the stage that we could almost touch the commemorative banners that hang from the rafters of the Philadelphia Spectrum. We had gotten shafted.
With today’s proliferation of internet ticket buying, you’d think that those circumstances wouldn’t happen any more. The number one fan, who is at his computer when tickets go on sale should get the best seats, right? But the fact is that it happens more these days than it used to, and while I’d love to point my fingers at Ticketmaster, the reality is that it’s not their fault. It’s simply a matter of supply and demand.
We get a ton of e-mails here after each big show sells out. People complain that they had all of their info ready to go, were in front of a high speed connection and had two phones going, but still couldn’t get through.
Let me first of all say that I feel your pain. I really do. But what people need to realize (in the case of this month’s biggest concert, The Police) is that probably 50,000 to 100,000 people were vying for those 16,000 tickets. So there’s going to be disappointed people. I’m not defending Ticketmaster, but they’re not out to screw people here in this situation. If they could sell a ticket to everyone who wanted one, I’m sure they would. Hell, it’s in their best interest.
As I talked to some of the local promoters about this situation, they all said the same thing, that the best thing someone can do to better their chances is to be prepared. Be the guy who is in front of the computer at 9:45 a.m. when tickets go on sale at 10. Have your account info already in the computer and ready to go. Have the phone number on speed dial. One promoter also suggested signing up with band fan clubs and local radio stations, which in many cases will give you access to a pre-sale of the tickets.
Sometimes you’re going to get lucky. Sometimes you’re going to get screwed, but when you do, if you want to blame someone, blame the 49,999 other people who were trying to get tickets at the same time. Then thank your lucky stars that you weren’t disappointed over tickets for fucking Journey, and that at least you didn’t have to sleep out at the mall.
We’ll see you at the shows (if you can get tickets, that is).
Suggestions from the pros:
More tips on getting tickets to the shows you want.
Tips from the pros:
In talking with local promoters, several tips came up that can help people better their chances for acquiring tickets to the big, fast sell-out shows.
1. Have your Ticketmaster account set up BEFORE the on-sale date. It’s free to set it up and it will save you the valuable time of typing in your address and credit card number when it matters.
2. Sign up for radio station and band fan clubs. In some cases, these clubs will give you access to a pre-sale, improving your chances even before the general public has the chance to buy tickets. (Note: being a fan club member doesn’t guarantee you tickets and some fan clubs for big bands can cost big money to join. Be wary of that and don’t go with the assumption that it will automatically mean a ticket, or a good ticket at that.)
3. If you don’t get the ticket you want, keep checking back. Often times the band or the promoter will release additional tickets (sometimes as last-minute as the day of the show). So even on the morning of that mega sold-out show, take five minutes to check out Ticketmaster and you may get lucky.
4. Play by the rules: don’t try to cheat the system. There used to be this old-school trick for getting tickets. When tickets went on sale in Colorado, you’d call a Ticketmaster in rural North Dakota, where the phone lines weren’t plugged. According to Ticketmaster this trick no longer works, as call centers have been centralized. (In fact, when you call Colorado Ticketmaster, you’re actually talking to people in Texas, even though you dialed area code 303.) So don’t waste valuable time trying to get through to that Ticketmaster in Sheboygan, Wisc.
5. Work with your friends. If you’re going with a group of friends, up your chances by having everyone try at the same time. This is particularly helpful on multiple-night runs. If you’re hoping for tickets to Friday and Saturday for you and your friends, have one person work on Friday night while the other tries to buy Saturday.
6. Don’t hang up and don’t click “Buy” more than once. A Ticketmaster representative said that it’s staggering, the amount of people who lose their place in line on the phone and on the internet by making simple mistakes. After you’ve clicked “Buy,” just wait. It may be frustratingly long, and you may not even get the tickets you just clicked “Buy” for, but if you click it more than once it moves you to the back of the line. Same goes for the phone lines. If you hang up and try again, you just lost your spot. There’s no “holdsies” here.