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:
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.