Woo hoo! I just got tickets to the Edmonton Folk Fest!! That makes 6 live music events for me so far this summer and more in the fall! Edmonton’s new Rogers Place Arena has been a godsend to me – it seems like every week a new hot concert is announced! Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Lady Gaga, Counting Crows/Matchbox 20 and more! And now it is summer festival season and Edmonton has a slew of music festivals… My credit card is burning up from all the action!
But it is so worth it! Plus, if you wanna search for Rock Gods, the best way is to go to their concerts. Seeing your favourite band play live is like no other experience! I’m pretty sure I will still be going to concerts when I am 90 years old!
And concerts mean tickets… I think I might be a bit of a ticket savant these days… I have spent so many hours of sooo many days buying tickets online that it’s almost second nature. It is rare that I do not get tickets when I hit Ticketmaster. And usually they are pretty good! It’s a gift. Or maybe a skill. Over the years, and many U2 ticket purchases in particular, I’ve learned a few tricks for buying tickets to the hot shows that are likely to sell out in minutes.
This is not always an easy feat… It can be super hard to get tickets right off the bat these days. The ticket sales industry is not really designed for fans. Us ‘real people’ have to compete with the many automated ticket bots that buy up thousands of tickets instantly, only to be sold seconds later on the secondary ticket sales market at ‘market demand prices.’ Not to mention that, apparently, not all tickets are up for grabs when a show goes on sale. Radio stations get tickets for giveaways; the band, promoters, venue owners, etc etc get blocks of tickets for their friends and families; various fan clubs, and other entities get tickets for presales, and so on.
However, there is such a buzz of excitement and adrenaline when it comes to waiting (impatiently) for those tickets to drop and there are ways to increase your chances of finding the tickets of your dreams when purchasing online. So, without further adieu, here are my top 10 Commandments for surviving the Ticketmaster online battlefield:
1) Thou must persevere. My guiding principle is never give up. I prep as much as possible in advance (as laid out in the Commandments below), and on the day, I sign in to the Ticketmaster page at least ten minutes before the tickets go on sale. As soon as the clock strikes the magic hour, I keep refreshing and searching my browsers until that happy screen offering a set of tickets appears. I keep trying for probably close to an hour. Even if the site says sold out. Never give up! Other people buying may release tickets they have on hold as they decide not to buy, or their session times out, etc. and the tickets are released back into the queue. If you stop trying, you won’t be there to get them.
If I still haven’t gotten tickets within that original timeframe, I keep trying throughout the day, you never know what may happen. I also check in every so often from that day onwards. Every so often Ticketmaster releases more tickets to a show – maybe the promoters or whoever didn’t need as much as they took, maybe the presales don’t sell out, who knows, but sometimes if you are in the right place and time, there they are.
Then a couple of weeks or so before the concert, I will step up the search again and check frequently throughout the days. This is because additional tickets are often released closer to the event. Sometimes this is because whoever is responsible for such things purposefully under-estimate the number of tickets to release based on estimations of how the stage will fit in the venue. Once the stage is actually assembled, they can see where the views are blocked, how many seats fit around the stage or how many people can fit in general admission, etc. and they open up more tickets. Also, those tickets that were blocked for family, promoters etc. can be released if not needed.
This was my plan of attack for tickets to see U2 in Dublin – the mecca for serious U2 fans -in 2015. I luckily managed to get tickets to their Belfast show in the general sale, but wanted to go to Dublin as well, especially as one of the four dates was on my birthday. I put in hours searching Ticketmaster, fan groups and so on. I bought my plane tickets to encompass those Dublin dates just in case, booked hotels, and carried on. Mere days before the first Dublin show I finally managed to get a ticket when they opened up more seats. And then again, the day before my birthday show, I managed to get one for that show as well (OMG! it was amazing!)! That was serious perseverance!
2) Worship Thy Rock God at Thy Rock God’s House: No, not their actual house… Please do not stalk Rock Gods or other celebrities at their homes… Join the official fan club. Many, maybe even most, official fan clubs offer their members presale codes for tours. Some memberships are free, others you have to buy, and others still you have to do things to receive the codes. Depeche Mode did this interesting thing where you could move up in the presale line the more you promoted their album/tour on social media and if you bought their album from the fan club connected store.
Join the clubs in advance – sometimes the longer you are a member of the club, the better the presale date you get. Plus, you will usually get notification of upcoming shows.
You can also look for other ticket presales: American Express has their Front of the Line presales for card-holders; sometimes Live Nation offers presales; and sometimes you can luck upon generic fan club presale codes online – just google the band and/or name of the tour and presale codes…
3) Thou Shalt Be Prepared 1: Know Thy Venue! If you care where you sit or stand, familiarize yourself with the venue seating map prior to the ticket drops. Ticketmaster and the venues’ websites will usually offer a specialized seating map with that band’s particular stage in the particular venue, or they will have a generic concert seating map.
I print one out days in advance to have near me on the sale day. I also google ‘best seats’ for that venue so I know if there are any blockages, sound issues etc in any of the areas. For the concert at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, I found out that some of the seating do not have chair backs. Not an issue if everyone is standing throughout the whole show, but if we have to sit, it is nice to have a seat with a back to lean against!
Lately, I have seen a few sales that have an interactive seating map that shows all available seats and the buyer can choose the ones he/she wants! It’s super awesome!
4) Thou Shalt Be Prepared 2: Have Thy Stuff Ready in Advance: Sign up with Ticketmaster before the sale and enter all your credit card and mailing information, etc. This saves so much time when you are actually in the process of buying tickets and those seconds can count! Even though Ticketmaster gives you some time to complete each screen, things can go wrong – you hit the wrong number for your credit card, your address doesn’t match, etc. – and you can lose the tickets (and then that person persevering in Commandment 1 is right there to grab them up!). Even if you sign up and enter your info in advance, make sure you still have everything available at your table – your credit card, passport, ID, address, etc. just in case. Also, if you are buying tickets for shows in other countries through that country’s Ticketmaster (or affiliate site), be aware that they may ask for information your country doesn’t – I had to run and dig out my passport when I bought tickets for a show in Belgium. That was nerve-wracking as I only had seconds! I also lost General Admission floor tickets to the U2 Belfast show because something went wrong with my Canadian information on the UK system – though I managed to pull up seats immediately after, it was extremely heart-breaking!
5) Thou Shalt Be Prepared 3: Use Multiple Devices: I use my computer, iPad and phone at the same time, each logged into Ticketmaster and am constantly refreshing each of them. As one screen is loading, I refresh the others. If I am happy with the first set of tickets that come available on one device, I stop using the other devices. If I am not happy with the first tickets, I use the time at each stage of the purchase process to keep refreshing my other devices in case better tickets show up. However, the trick is to not push the time allotments to far or you could lose the tickets you have on hold!
If you have friends going with you, you can also ask them to try getting tickets at the same time, this can increase your chances of getting tickets (though it also of course increases traffic to Ticketmaster) and if more than one of you make it through, it gives you options on seating if you don’t like the first ones that come up. Just have some way of communicating with those friends (be in the same room a la the Big Bang episode above, or put each other on speaker-phone (you need your hands free!)) so you don’t all buy tickets for each other!
6) Thou Shall Not Covet Your Neighbour’s Tickets: If you are buying tickets for a hot show that is likely to sell out, consider buying whatever tickets first show up for you, even if they are not the perfect seats, especially if you aren’t using multiple devices to check for other tickets while the timer is running on the ones you are holding. If you release the tickets you don’t like back, you may not get a second chance, or may get worse seats. Of course, this depends on your priorities – is it better to have ‘bad’ tickets, or no tickets 😀
7) Know Thy Neighbour: If you are unable to get tickets from Ticketmaster, look for unofficial fan groups on Social Media and post what tickets you are looking for – fans’ plans change, life happens and sometimes fans end up needing to sell their tickets. These groups also tend to post when more tickets drop or if they know anyone selling. If you find the right groups, these communities of fans are usually against scalping tickets to their band’s shows and offer tickets they can’t use at face value prices.
In some cases, there are groups, such as the U2 Fans Tour Help Real Fans Get Tickets Facebook group, who are dedicated specifically to helping fans sell or buy tickets to other fans. The moderators of this particular group facilitate the exchanges made through the group to ensure the deal is legit for all parties and tickets are sold at face value.
You can also search Online Classifieds such as Kijiji – sometimes people post tickets for face value on these sites as well.
8) Beware False Idols: I cannot support ticket scalping… I’ve done it once when a Madonna concert sold out in seconds and though the show was amazing, and though the prices weren’t too too high, a part of me regrets it, especially as she announced a second concert the next day due to overwhelming demand… And because I stressed for months about the possibility that the tickets were fake (they were a print out of e-tickets, the person could have sold 20 copies of the same ticket…) And especially because I know these tips above on how to get tickets.
However, it is always a risk to play the waiting game and sometimes you just want to be sure you get those tickets – so here is some food for thought if you are thinking about using secondary sales sources: Try not to buy from secondary sources immediately after a show sells out (or before they go on sale – some scalpers do this thing called ‘speculative ticket selling’ where they post tickets for sale on their sites BEFORE tickets have even gone on pre-sale or general public sale – they are speculating the tickets they will get from their bots and selling them in advance! Crazy!). This is when tickets are the highest in price, but as you get closer to the show date they will often drop in price and in some cases, i.e days or hours before the show starts, they can come down to below face value as scalpers become desperate to get rid of the tickets. Of course this is another risk as there is no guarantee that there will be tickets left or that they go down in price, so, you must do what you must do.
9) Spread the Good Word: If all else fails, talk to people. Go to the venue on the day and walk around. You can either ask people – even just shout out at the lines – for extra tickets at face value, or listen and look for people with extra tickets.
My first trip to Dublin ever was purposefully taken around the date of a massive U2 concert. I did not have a ticket to the show, but I always wanted to go to Ireland anyways and figured maybe I would luck out. This was back before Facebook; there were a couple of online fan groups I belonged to but nothing like today. I asked once or twice in those groups for tickets, found a hostel where some fans were staying, but no tickets. So I went, had a blast, fell in love with Ireland the second I stepped on the ground, but never found a ticket. The day after the concert, people in the hostel were talking about the show, I commented on how I wished I could have found a ticket and a lady says to me “oh no, I wish we would have known yesterday, we had an extra ticket that ended up being unused and there were tons of people offering tickets at the event! You should have just come to the venue!” Sigh…
10) Thou Shalt Have Fun! Well, I needed ten commandments, so there you go – I had to write something! But seriously – I love all the crazy emotions and adrenaline that comes from the second my Rock Gods announce a tour through the anticipation and stress of waiting for the sale, through the happy stress of those seconds or days on Ticketmaster, to the final euphoria once I press that last button and the tickets are mine! Then I am nothing but smiles and giddiness for days (or until the credit card bill arrives) in new anticipation of seeing my Rock Gods live!
How about you – do you have any tips for getting tickets? Any Golden Rules? I’d love to hear your stories. And let me know if you use these 10 Commandments and if they worked for you or not.
Happy ticket hunting!