Ticketmaster’s Best Kept Secret

by Brandon

Ticketmaster's Best Kept Secret

It’s 10AM, you’re diligently waiting at the Ticketmaster window for those coveted Jay-Z tickets to go on sale. 9:59 slowly ticks to 10:00 and you refresh the page. You select your tickets, blaze through the Captcha window and you start thinking to yourself, “I have to be one of the first people in line!

Then you see the image above. Sold out.

The average ticket broker would think, “Well, game over.” But you, my friend, are no average ticket broker. The truth is the game has just begun. You’re going to get those tickets, rest assured, but first you’ll have to ride the Ticketmaster wave.

The Ticketmaster Wave

What is the Ticketmaster Wave, you ask? Few people know it exists, but understanding it is one of the keys of becoming a successful ticket broker. It’s one of the dirty little secrets that separates the pros from the average guy.

Essentially, it boils down to this:

Tickets are not released all at once. They are released in waves, and the best tickets may not be released until much later than the on-sale time.

When Ticketmaster says that the on-sale time for a concert is at 10AM, they may not be releasing their best tickets at that time. Tickets are going on sale–just not always the ones you want. The seats up in the nosebleeds might get released at exactly 10AM, but those GA PIT tickets you’re hunting down are still tucked away in obscurity.

So, what do you do when Ticketmaster tells you you’re all out of luck?

You keep pulling.

The fact of the matter is that Ticketmaster is orchestrating this little dance, not you. Ticketmaster knows when the best seats will go on sale, not you. All you know is that it’s virtually impossible for all 1000 General Admission tickets to have sold out within 17 seconds of the on-sale time.

In a way, Ticketmaster showing the “Sold Out” screen is the best possible thing that could happen to a ticket broker. It’s a sure way to fend off disappointed fans and less savvy brokers. What both of these mean is less competition for you, and less people to compete with when the good seats finally do go on sale.

Just keep riding that wave and don’t stop searching.

Riding the wave

In my experience, Ticketmaster often releases their best stuff about 45 minutes after the on-sale time. Keep in mind that this is not an exact science. They can sometimes release the good seats 10 minutes after, or 10 days after (yes, days). Again, there is no way to know.

The obvious question at this point is, when do you stop? And the obvious answer is, whenever it is no longer worth it for you to pull great seats. If it’s a big show with high profit potential, I usually throw in the towel after 60 minutes of nonstop pulling. If you’ve been searching non-stop and after 60 minutes there’s still nothing, Ticketmaster may be delaying the release of prime seats by another few hours, or even another few days. (By 60 minutes your hands will probably have gone numb, anyway!)

If you are diligently riding the wave, though, be prepared for Ticketmaster to release all the good seats at exactly the same time. You might end up pulling 5-10 tickets all in the front row after 45 minutes of no luck whatsoever. Your job is to be prepared for anything Ticketmaster may throw at you and not to stop pulling until at least 30 minutes after tickets have gone on sale.

The theory behind “The Wave”

Why does Ticketmaster even do this? Why put us through this misery? Wouldn’t it just be easier to release all the seats at once?

Easier? Sure. Just as profitable? Not in a million years.

Think about it: what is a fan going to do as soon as Ticketmaster says that all the General Admission or Floor seats have been snatched up? Of course, they’ll give up on landing prime seats and just click on “Best Available” to at least guarantee them entrance to the show. And at the wrong time, “Best Available” will just be two seats up in the nosebleeds, so they’ll be forced to simply buy those.

By reserving the best seats until later, Ticketmaster is ensuring that the nosebleed tickets are sold as well as the premium seats. They know for a fact that premium seats will sell regardless of when they go on sale, so it makes sense to release the cheap seats first when demand is highest.

So, next time someone tells you that ticket brokers are sneaky, tell them we’ve got NOTHING on Ticketmaster. They created the game; we’re just playing it.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

CM December 2, 2013 at 7:23 pm

I’m not sure I totally agree with this. Granted, I’ve pulled quite a few better tickets 20-30 minutes into an on-sale but I’m not sure if it’s actually Ticketmaster staggering the allotment.

I’ve been under the impression that sometimes those brokers that do have automated programs have the ability to cherry pick the tickets they want. What I consider a good ticket, someone that has the ability to scoop up the 80 of best tickets may not. For example, if someone has a program and can get 10 pulls of 8 tickets all within the first 10 rows, they may throw back some seats that are 12 rows back that I consider good enough to buy still. Or in other cases sometimes Ticketmaster catches on to their software and they get blocked thus releasing everything they were holding and I get in there to scoop up what may have gotten released.

Maybe I’m wrong, but you can usually tell a show that is hit very hard by the bots. Then all of a sudden you have no problem getting tickets because they’ve either stopped searching or gotten blocked.


Will December 9, 2013 at 2:29 pm

So, what’s the best way to get tickets? Is there any way to beat the bots if they are released when ticketmaster says?


T January 9, 2014 at 12:52 pm

They arent staggering the sales. Thats a huge lie. The bots eat up everything at first, and continue to eat it up over the course of the first 10-15 minutes. They will drop a few sets here and there until they are through picking over the tickets. If tickets begin to show up its because the big boys dont want them.


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