Where Do All the Concert Tickets Go?

NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters look at the best way to get good tickets and why you have to jump through hoops to get them.

There are more ways than ever to buy concert tickets nowadays, but getting your hands on the tickets can be a difficult task.

"[It's] very difficult because as soon as you get online the time that they’re available all the good seats are gone,” said Tamara Henry, of Windsor.

Others say it's who you know.

“You find people that know people. It’s really the only way to get good seats to good shows,” said Ray-Ellen Roy of Montville.

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters obtained a little known report by the department of consumer protection on the issue of concert ticket sales. It says tickets are often held back by artists, promoters, the venues, and event sponsors like radio stations to give to friends, customers, and listeners.
Other tickets are sold early in “pre-sales”, to fan clubs, credit card customers, and other membership groups.

In other instances, professional ticket brokers and resellers, join the clubs and pre-sale groups to get tickets, and on the day the rest of the tickets go on sale to the general public, use automated systems known as “bots” to scoop up tickets. The brokers also have employees who buy tickets and reserve them.

“I tried to get Concert for Kids tickets this year, The big concert for Country 92.5. They sold out in five minutes. I thought that was absolutely ridiculous,” said Heidi Marie Holt of New Britain.

Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Bill Rubenstein says in the cases his agency examined, a majority of the tickets were still available the day they went on sale to the public, but he cautions it was a small sample size.

“I would say well in excess of 60, 70-percent in the circumstances we looked at were available on the public on sale date.”

Music writer Dean Budnick says he has seen the reverse scenario.

“There are instances where 75, 85, sometimes 90-percent of the house is being sold before that previously-announced on sale date and time.”

Two years ago Budnick co-wrote “Ticket Masters”, a book he says is all about how the public gets “scalped” when it comes to concert tickets. He says people can get good tickets if they do their homework and tap into the huge number of tickets that are held back.

“There are fan club pre-sales, there are credit card pre-sales, there are radio pre-sales. A lot of times there are venue pre-sales. There are social media pre-sales, that are typically run both by LiveNation and TicketMaster or another ticketing agent,” Budnick said.

Ticket hunters can get in on these pre-sales and clubs for little or no money. Budnick adds it’s also worth checking with the venue the week before, or even a day before the concert, because extra tickets will become available.

”You can still see that inventory online. There are times when that can be really challenging because it’s close to a show then you can go to the box office but in most every instance, that inventory you can see it if you’re in front of your computer at home.”

He also suggests loading the apps the venue or promoter have as another untapped source for tickets.

“People don’t realize that people can use their phones and a lot of, there are different ticket cues for people using mobile apps, so it’s much easier to get tickets nowadays through mobile apps than it is, through getting tickets online,” Budnick said.

Holt says she has tried some of these clubs and special offers.

“So it’s either waiting for the sale and not getting them or overpaying and getting them early. So I don’t know if I’m winning either way." she said.

Others like Tamara Henry of Windsor say it’s a lot of effort.

“They should save some of the seats for the regular people who don’t have, you know, the access to all the clubs or you know they don’t want to do it, they just want to go to that one show,” she said.

Odds are the way tickets are bought and sold will not change anytime soon according to Jim Koplik, the president of concert promotion company LiveNation of Connecticut-Upstate New York.

“Oh it won’t change. The pre-sales have become a big business in themselves. The credit card companies love it. The radio stations love it. The artist’s fan club’s love it," Koplik said. "It’s a way to gather more information on people. It’s all about getting information on people. In order to buy a ticket through any of these processes, you have to either give your credit card number, you gotta give your email address, or something.”

Koplik and Budnick do agree that in many ways, buying tickets now, most often with a point and click, and not at one frenzied, pre-set date and time, is really an easier way of doing business for everyone.

One idea being floated to help consumers is to force concert venues to disclose exactly how many tickets are available on the public-sale date, but there has been resistance to this by the primary ticket companies and the venues. They argue it will only help ticket resellers gauge their pricing.

At this point, there is no strong push by the state to introduce that kind of regulation.

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