Well, let me first say what some people have called me: "An Entertainment Whore." If Entertainment Whore means someone who likes experiencing live music, plays, art and sporting events, then that's what I am.
This is how a typical conversation usually goes with someone after hearing about an event I just got tickets to:
Person: "Where did you get those tickets."
Entertainment Whore: "I got them online."
Person: "How? I tried and couldn't even get the page to load."
Entertainment Whore: "I got them thru the Fan Club presale, the Facebook or Twitter page, Credit Card, Venue code or Mobile App."
Person: "What? I went to Ticketmaster and they were sold out. So can you get me tickets?"
Entertainment Whore: "I can try but I'll look later for you."
Person: "Why later? And how? They're sold out. Forget it, I'll buy them on StubHub or Craigslist."
Entertainment Whore: "Patience grasshopper."
There are lessons I've learned over many years of going to live events, although the way to acquire tickets has changed over time. In the early days of TicketMaster, when there was no internet, and shortly after when there was the internet, but dial-up and DSL just didn't cut it, you actually had to use a phone and talk to someone, deal with an automated ticket voice, or wait in line. I found it just as hard as everyone else to get those great tickets everyone wanted.
Until one day I discovered that using the automated ticket voice was the way to go, but the trick was to call a local Ticketmaster in a different town than where you wanted to see the show. For example, if I wanted to see a show in Boston, I would call a local Ticketmaster in South Dakota and go through the automated ticket option. While all the phone lines were busy in Boston, and people were screaming at AT&T and not getting tickets, I was selecting my seats and then going about my day. Just a simple twist in the purchasing process that took a little out-of-the-box thinking. Years passed, and then what I can only imagined happened was that all the scalpers in the world figured out the same system. So Ticketmaster moved to a single call-in number, in essence killing my advantage.
Fast forward to today with blazing fast internet and smartphones. It's amazing anyone can get tickets anymore without ending up at a scalper's site. Still, there are a few ways to ensure you get into the show these days but they aren't always going to get you the best seats in the house. For starters use the technology out there: Facebook, Twitter, a Band's website (mailing list - email required), the Venue's site, Credit Card Promotions, and Mobile Apps to name a few. If you stay up to date with these online properties, they will often give you presale codes for upcoming concerts in your area. Usually these presales happen before tickets go on sale to the general public. They usually aren't the best seats in the house but they still give you an advantage for getting a ticket.
Above is a sampling of tickets, GA wristbands & the Ultimate Access Pass I have collected over my many years of concert going.
Tip for using social media to your advantage:
Here is an example of how I scored a Live Nation Ultimate Access Pass two years ago using Social Media. I followed Live Nation on Twitter and liked their Facebook page. When they tweeted and posted the Ultimate VIP Pass contest, I investigated. The contest asked you to retweet a saying and add why you wanted the pass. Here's what I cut and pasted everyday for a month (not hard to do): "@LiveNationNE Please help out a concert junkie @LiveNation! I want #LiveNationUltimateAccess."
The trick was that I looked at the contest and discovered that they were giving away one national prize and a few regional prizes. I realized that there was a Live Nation New England twitter handle, and at the time only about 200 people were following that one, compared to around 100,000 people following the Live Nation general twitter handle. So, I retweeted to both but was more confident retweeting to @LiveNationNE.
Skip to the end of the contest. I won the Live Nation New England Pass and got to see every show at the Bank of America Pavilion that summer for FREE. (Note to anyone winning these types of prizes, you'll need to pay taxes on the prize which is way less then tickets to about 30 shows. Oh yeah, and beer isn't FREE either) Even now only 2,900 people are following Live Nation New England, compared to 290,000 people following the general twitter feed, so keep your eyes peeled for local contests in your region for better odds of winning a contest like this one.
Simple tips to remember before purchasing tickets:
1. Create accounts with payment information on ticket sites you're most likely going to purchase from, such as Ticketmaster & Live Nation.
2. When you're waiting online for your show to go on sale make sure you are logged into the site.
3. Check for presales in the "Onsale Dates & Times" section.
4. If there are codes, make sure you know how to get them from Twitter, Fan Club Venue, etc.
5. Mobile Apps for Live Nation and Ticketmaster are pretty new and for some reason can help you avoid internet log jams.
6. Practice buying tickets without actually buying any to get familiar with the various sites.
7. Know the venue layout you are going to so you don't mistakenly think Sec. 326 is right next to the stage when actually it's across the venue in the balcony.
Once you're on the site actually purchasing tickets:
1. Once you encounter the "reCAPTCAH" squiggle words generator shown above make sure you can read it. Otherwise ask it for "New Words" because time is of the essence. (Tip: if they show 6 numbers then the word, typically you only need a couple of the numbers they are showing you, which will save you time. Try this out first, but it works)
2. Once you have the tickets on your screen don't panic. It's easy to lose your head and click something by accident and lose the seats you're staring at.
3. Enjoy the show!
Extra tip for patient but spontaneous people (remember this method works sometimes but you have to be willing to not get any tickets at all):
Be patient and wait. I know it's tough to do if you really want to go see a band or a sporting event but sometimes being patient can pay off. For a sporting event, you can get Day of Game tickets by calling the box office a few of hours before the game starts. Even if they say it's sold out call back in an hour and see what happens. A lot of times season ticket holders sell tickets back to the box office at the last last minute, and all of a sudden you could be on the Green Monster for a sold out Red Sox vs. Yankees game.
Below is a video I took during a sold out Bruce Springsteen show at Fenway Park in Boston, MA. I bought General Admission Pit tickets one day before the show on Ticketmaster for face value instead of going to a scalper site and paying upwards of 3 to 4 times the cost. Sometimes tickets get released by the artist late to help prevent scalping at their shows, meaning you have to pick them up at will call the day of the show which makes it harder for someone to turn around and sell them for a profit.
Enjoy The Boss. I did. Click the link below to watch The Boss take you to the Promised Land
Hope these simple tips of ticket buying will help you see the shows and events you want, good luck to all and hope to see you in the front row.