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Ticket sales for U2’s MSG Sphere gig aren’t going well. There are complaints. And now, no General Onsale. Here’s what I think happened.

U2 is set to play a dozen gigs at the brand new MSG Sphere next to The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas starting in September (UPDATE: Dates have been extended into November). Tickets went on sale today–and there are problems.

After a couple of days of pre-registration and Ticketmaster Verified Fan preparation, things apparently aren’t going smoothly. Fan club people were met with denials for general admission spots and not upsold on other opportunities. Others, in the Ultra group of superfans–the people who have worked to earn the right to get first crack at tickets–also got zip. And now the general onsale has been canceled because of high demand.

Back up. There’s a group of superfans who pay an annual fee for the privilege of getting first crack at concert tickets. Within that are two sub-groups: super longtime fans (the ULTRAs) and more recent sign-ups. You can guess which of them has been promised to be first in line.

Something went wrong with this sale and even members of the superduperfan subgroup were shut out. Yes, U2 managed to piss off their most diehard promoters.

So why did this happen? Let’s take this step by step.

  1. The Sphere holds 18,000 people. Twelve x 18,000 = A maximum of 216,000 tickets. That’s not a lot of tickets for a limited run from a band as big as U2. That’s the equivalent of a little more than four 360 Tour shows. And The Sphere production could potentially be as spectacular as anything U2 has ever done.
  2. U2 has a global fanbase that would buy up all the seats for all 12 shows by itself if it could. There’s certainly more than 216,000 of them on the planet.
  3. But that number is misleading. You have to deduct the number of “holdbacks” required. These are the tickets held back for use by the venue, the promoter, the band, the label, products like American Express’s Front of the Line, and so on.
  4. This is Las Vegas. Hotels, concierges, and various fixers all over the city need tickets so they can comp the whales. The number of those tickets would have been carved out right off the top.
  5. This is The Sphere’s first engagement, it’s coming out party. It will attract the Danny Ocean crowd and the see-and-be-seers.
  6. In conclusion, if there is space for 18,000 people, I’d be shocked if there was 10,000 tickets available to the punters, super punters and super-duper punters per show. That means 100,000-ish tickets were never, ever going on sale.

At the heart of all this is a supply-and-demand issue. That the shows would sell out was a foregone conclusion. The question is how that supply was managed in the first place.

Did you try to get tickets?

Meanwhile, check out some of the offerings on the secondary sites. This can’t be right.

Twitter is awash with complaints. (Thanks to Raven for the files.)

And after all that, anyone who hoped to buy tickets with the General Onsale: nope.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38293 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

18 thoughts on “Ticket sales for U2’s MSG Sphere gig aren’t going well. There are complaints. And now, no General Onsale. Here’s what I think happened.

  • Even if you managed get in and see the ticket prices they were completely outrageous. Lowest I saw for hotel & show was $9XX.XX per person. Outrageous!

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    • Incorrect. Those were VIP/hotel package tickets. I got P2 tickets @$400 ea.

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  • Me and my friend signed up for the verified fan presale. She got selected. After a few hiccups logging in with ticketmaster, we were able to get seats $150 above original price thanks to dynamic pricing.

    Incredibly stressful and honestly very luck to even get a presale code.

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  • Same thing is happening for Pearl Jam tickets this morning. The verify fan presale does not work. Ticketmaster sucks 🙁

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  • After reading this, I feel even more fortunate that I was able to snag 4 P2 tickets. I didn’t get selected for the fan club presale, which was a pisser and a little surprising, but I did get Verified Fan. Unfortunately the code didn’t work for 20 mins – TM kept saying it was for the wrong account (it wasn’t, I only have one), then magically it started working. There was nothing in P1 (my first choice, didn’t even check the GA) and I expect those all went to the high rollers, and it took bouncing back and forth between days and queues (which were all mercifully small) to get in, and when available seats showed for Oct 11, I jumped on them. It was almost 40 mins after the code was texted to me.

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  • As an aside, I got an email just now from the Sphere to do a survey regarding my ticket-buying experience. I hope they have room for lots of characters in my response. 🙂

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    • I got in on the pre-sale opportunity as I am a fan. I ordered 2P1 tickets at $501 per ticket and 24 hours later got confirmation for P2 tickets which were cheaper than the P1 . Honestly I’m just glad I’m going but for real they rob me were a couple hundred dollars and put me in P2

      Reply
  • As a member of U2.com, I landed 4 GA tickets on the floor with ease. I followed the provided steps and was able to choose up to 3 dates and up to 4 tickets for each date. I was told I would be awarded 4 tickets for a single date if selected and I was. That was Wednesday.

    I then scored another 4 reserved seat tickets thru the verified fan presale on Thursday. I followed the steps provided by Ticketmaster for this. I was unable to get any tickets during the first presale at 12pm because I was looking for 4 seats together and moved too slow, but I could have scored 2 tickets. I scored the 4 seats together when they announced additional shows just before 1:30pm.

    GA and affordable reserved seats were likely scarce by the public sale Friday.

    I go to a lot of concerts and the experience seems similar to other big shows post-pandemic. They are popular and you have to act fast. Login to Ticketmaster 20 minutes before the sale to get in their virtual queue.

    Hats off to U2 for setting some restrictions on resales. GA tickets cannot be sold for more than face value. It would be great if this were the case for all shows and all seats. Online scalping is a real problem.

    Reply
    • This was false advertising to make U2 look good, saying “resales will be restricted.” There are no restrictions on resales, at all. There are thousands of obnoxiously inflated GA tickets that were bought for $140 flooding the resale market (see StubHub and others). So, many bought the GA tickets and instantly posted them on Stubhub at 4-10x mark up. Exactly what we were told would not happen. So me and many others cannot go.

      Reply
  • I guess I should consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to actually get tickets. Then again, greeted with the only seats being $750 wasn’t much better. I’m not poor, but that’s just unattainable for a lot of people. I know Bono and Co put more care and effort into the production than just about any band, and that money has to come from somewhere, but that’s just not ok. Knowing that time is marching on, I wanted to bring my son to see U2 before they call it a career(which I suspect they will in the next decade). I guess we’ll have to do our best with youtube.

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    • Those were probably the VIP w/hotel tickets. While I was looking for seats on several dates, there were lots of $1500, $900 and $750 tickets, all with hotel. I kept searching and ended up getting 4XP2 for $400 as mentioned above. The annoying part was literally a minute after I completed the transaction, I got a text that 5 more shows were going on sale 2 minutes later, so I might have been able to do better.

      Reply
  • Just curious as to how many “shut-out” fans ONLY SELECTED THE FIRST 3 SHOWS? I thought about that for 3 seconds and then decided to hedge my bets with Oct 14 (which I got in the fan club request). I calculated rough holdbacks in line with Alan. Did the math and thinking about the (likely) millions of fan clubbers, realized that the first couple shows was not gonna happen. I’m positive there are more than 50,000 Ultra fans in the world. More than enough to sell out 12 shows at 4 tix each. FWIW.

    Reply
  • I was lucky enough to get a code for the pre-sale. It said it would arrive at 12:40 by text but it was much later than that. I tried many times to buy tickets only to be told that the link was for a different account or that my password was incorrect. I could only select a single show to look for tickets for. When I found tickets I was told somebody else had grabbed them, and I had to keep starting over. When I was finally ready to give up, I got a text that my shows had been added and I was able to buy P4 tickets for $140 each. Stressful experience, but a happy ending here. So sorry for those who had a worse experience.

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  • *more shows

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  • It unfortunate that the U2 fan club and verified fan sale went like this. I don’t mind not being able to get tickets but I do mind when this that do via the fan club go out and immediately try to sell them 5x face value. It’s bothersome that the selling point of the fan club is fans get first chance at tickets. Last 3x I’ve haven’t been able to buy fan club tix after being in the fan club for over 30 years.

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    • I agree, Richard. I can live with not getting a ticket because there were fans ahead of me who won the lottery to get the $140 or any affordable tickets. It is just wrong though when you see all these tickets being resold for 5x face value. Before the sale I read over and over again, including on U2.com that these GA tickets would not be transferable. That you could only sell them at face value. If nobody is enforcing this, don’t tell us that B.S. just to try make the band look good. Lots of fans believed this but were shut out. Crushed hopes, a slap in the face. I’ve been a fan for 40 years. Will probably never see them live now.

      Reply
  • So here we are a little more than a month before the initial shows and I still can’t even sell my tickets at face value on TM. They told us there would be X number of shows so me and 3 friends all registered for the presale. Thinking it was going to be extremely difficult to get tickets, we chose different shows and different seating options – turns out that all 4 of us got tickets (16 tickets for 4 people) and only one of us got floor. Obviously we will keep the floor tickets, but now we’re thinking we’ll have no problem selling the remaining 12 tickets for this highly anticipated show. Except that they announced more and more shows; devaluing the “hype” and desire for these tickets in the process. But even worse still is that they haven’t enabled the resale yet. I read online that there are still tickets available for the later shows and that they likely won’t enable reselling unless all seats are sold out on TM. I feel like there was all kinds of false advertising surrounding this presale and it has been handled so poorly. The fan club said they don’t know when the band will enable ticket sales and ticketmaster said there’s no refunds. So I guess we’ll hav to risk selling these tickets online outside of TM and hope we don’t get scammed.

    Reply

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