Earlier this year, Elton John announced a long goodbye, a farewell world tour that is scheduled to include 300 (!!!) shows. That’s a lot, but given that we’re talking about one of the best-selling male singers of all time, it’s not a surprise that demand for tickets was going to be off the charts.
BlogTO has a story on angry Toronto fans who tried to get tickets for both Air Canada Centre shows. Here are some quoted tweets:
— Dayna Gorecki (@daynagorecki) February 2, 2018
@PatForanCTVNews I tried to get Elton John tickets in Toronto from Ticket Master but they were sold out at 10:01…..unbelievable! They are already on other resale website. Are there really no protection on ordinary consumers?
— chloe (@chloe_chan21) February 2, 2018
Sorry, folks, but this is the reality of the concert ticket business.
I dissected the whole issue in a series of articles for Global News (go here, here and here to read them). If you waited until 10 am on the day tickets went on sale to the general public, you just set yourself up to be disappointed and angry. Here’s why.
- The demand for big shows like this is always going to exceed the number of available seats. It’s the invisible hand of the marketplace at work.
- We don’t know exactly how many tickets were available for those Air Canada shows. If the stated capacity of the arena is, say, 15,000 for a concert, you can bet that about half of those were off the table to begin with. They went to VIP programs (think American Express’ Front of the Line), promotions (like giveaways for radio stations and other media outlets), holdbacks (tickets set aside for the artist, the record label, the promoter and the venue) and members of Elton John’s fan club (fan clubs routinely get the first crack at tickets).
- Sure, ticket-buying bots will soon be illegal in Ontario, but the last time I looked, the Internet extended beyond the province’s borders. Bot farms can be located anywhere on the planet and operators were especially keen to get their hands on Elton John tickets. Farewell tours by major artists always command top dollar on the secondary market.
- Don’t complain about scalpers. The price for a ticket on the secondary market better reflects the REAL market price based on supply and demand, just like any other commodity. Artists and promoters still charge too little for a ticket. That’s partly a strategy to (a) make sure the shows sell out; and (b) not look like they’re gouging fans.
- And don’t freak that prices on StubHub are as high as $6K. If there’s a sucker willing to pay that, good for them. But if there isn’t, then the marketplace dictates that price will come down before the show starts. It’s capitalism at its purest.
- Try again in the weeks leading up to the show. Holdbacks are a fluid thing and additional tickets are sometimes released in blocks when it’s determined that the artist, the promoter, the label. the venue, the fanclub or VIP partners don’t need as many as they thought.
- Promoters often release only a preliminary number of tickets on the first general on-sale day so they can (a) crow about the tour being an instant sell-out, thereby scoring major publicity; and (b) release new blocks of tickets later, claiming “due to unprecedented demand!”
- The most accurate price gauge of a concert ticket is what’s offered on secondary sites 48 hours before the show. That’s when these sites see the most transactions. Prices can move wildly.
Okay, fine. How could you have given yourself a better chance at getting tickets when tickets went on sale to the general public? First rule: DON’T WAIT UNTIL THE GENERAL PUBLIC ON-SALE DATE!
Instead, get an AMEX card. Sign up for the artist’s fanclub for insider information/pre-sales. Find a radio station listener club that’s offering pre-sale codes. And if Ticketmaster offers a “Verified Fan” option for a show, register in advance.
None of the above will ensure that you get tickets, but it will give you a running start.
And remember: No one, no matter how big a fan, has a RIGHT to buy concert tickets. It’s every person for themselves.