My Second Date With Ticketmaster (Or Never Kiss On The First Date)
First, let’s talk a little about last Monday’s post. (Bear with me here, this story has a happy ending.) I had hoped going public with my experience would attract some attention (not to mention allow me to vent my frustration). But no one here at Pollstar was quite prepared for your overwhelming reaction.
The piece has been read by an amazing number of people. As a matter of fact it’s our number two story so far this year – right behind the Nine Inch Nails / Jane’s Addiction tour announcement – and it’s still gaining.
Many of you had some pretty strong opinions about the subject. Some folks sympathized, but seemed resigned to having to live with a less than perfect system.
Hairbandfan23 wrote: Sorry to hear about your ticket experience, but ticketmaster sucks and they are blood sucking thieves that steal your money, however there is no way around it. It really is the root of all ticket evil, but if you want to see a concert, you have to pay the thieves to see your band.
Wow. And I thought I was a little upset.
Other people offered advice, like TicketAlternative, who helpfully wrote a very detailed guide to online ticket buying that was longer than my original post, and kindly provided this capsule version of that guide.
1. Make sure you’re already on the event page.
2. Make sure you’ve already created an account and are logged in.
3. Have your credit card handy.
4. Keep refreshing the page until tickets become available for purchase.
5. Decide ahead of time which seats you’re willing to take. Don’t decide on the fly.
6. Even if you get bad seats, you can always sell them!
That last hint is my favorite. In the first place, I don’t want bad seats (who does?). Second, TicketAlternative is encouraging me to do one of the things that more than likely made it impossible to get tickets in the first place – scalp, er, reselling tickets. Plus, if they’re bad isn’t there a chance I’ll get stuck with them?
A couple of you thought the entire thing was silly. Like Hooterville, who wrote:
Anyone who has ever bought a ticket from ticketmaster for a show that is even slightly popular has this experience every time.
Exactly my point. Glad you were paying attention.
The most interesting comments of all, however, might just be the ones that came from people who appear to have an inside knowledge of how the process works and peeled back the curtain a bit for us.
Nodiggity wrote: Couple of points here. First off the theatre holds 3000 people so there were probably about 1000-1500 tickets actually on sale. Part went on sale during the presale process and the other part is being held back for promoters, the artist and by the venue. So technically you are fighting with a couple of thousand people all over North America to get about 1500 tickets max. And if everyone is pulling up 6 tickets each, which was the max, there were probably about 200 people who got tickets.
Let’s rewind a bit and look at this statement: “…there were probably about 1000-1500 tickets actually on sale.” If that’s true, can someone please tell me how it’s okay that less than half the venue is actually available to the general public? And doesn’t that also back up the public’s assertion that the system is rigged against them? Moving on:
And as far as the ticketexchange is concerned the majority of those tickets are being sold by ticketmaster, the venue or cohen’s management itself.
There’s a lot more to this statement, but you get the jist. And again I ask – this is okay how?
I have to admit, it was nice to see that Ticketmaster had some defenders too. One in particular, LunchBox, passionately defended the company, gave us some lessons on basic economics, pointed out that TM performs a necessary function – like it or not – and made friends with Roswellite13.
Which brings us to this morning, when tickets for Leonard Cohen’s April 10 and 11 shows at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles went on sale and I repeated my experiment.
Because I really want to see Cohen, I decided to follow a few of TicketAlternative’s tips. After all, it couldn’t hurt, right?
I signed on at 9:55 a.m., navigated to the show’s page and kept hitting refresh once a minute. Promptly at 10:00 a.m., tickets became available. I asked for two, any price, best available section and hit enter.
And to my delight, TA’s hints apparently worked! Not only did I get orchestra seats, but someone else in the office followed the same tips at the same time and got seats in the same row.
Of course, there’s the chance Nokia L.A. Live being double the size of the Paramount Theatre and two shows going on sale at the same time are the reasons for my success. Nah. Couldn’t be.
Or maybe, as one of the conspiracy theorists in the office pointed out, Ticketmaster was waiting for me and made sure I got tickets so I’d quit griping. That’s just plain crazy. I mean, after all, TM isn’t that powerful is it?
I hear a bunch of you out there saying, “So what? What’s the point?” Well, I guess my point is this: The system is far from perfect but every once in a while – when all the planets are in alignment – it works. (Thanks TicketAlternative!)