I'm sitting behind a table inside The Observatory North Park, selling t-shirts for headliner Vic Mensa, and I sometimes get a- how do I put it- if I ran the world kind of mindset when I'm slinging merch. Like don't ask me how much shirts are when there's a giant sign that says $30, don't try to negotiate with me, and don't ask me if there's a magical stash of shirts of opposite colors than what you see printed and hanging on the wall. It's comical, I know, and I'm probably way too old to be here anyway, but doing merch is kind of a fun way to get paid while interacting with the public, whom I'd otherwise never see in my own real life at shows or in my day to day work or in my family life. So when I'm asked, I usually say yes, even if it means missing something else where I'd rather be.
But what I really want to talk about is ticket sales. On Friday, Tame Impala tickets went onsale for The Observatory North Park and tickets were gone in the first minute, kinda. Some people were able to snag tickets after that, but not many, and since people ask me how that happens, I thought I'd explain it.
So there you are, circling the website, 9:45, 9:52, 9:59. Your clock changes to 10:00 and boom, action on. I'm only speaking hypothetically here, because I don't have access to Observatory ticketing, but for a show like Tame Impala, there would be about 1100 tickets available for sale. When you're on that magical ticketing page, you use the pulldown to select your tickets, and in the case of this show, with no ticket limit, you could buy up to 10 tickets. So think about that. If people are logged in at 10am, they all click 10 tickets, ONLY 110 actual transactions could sell out a show. Of course, you have a lot of people buying 1, 2, or 4 tickets, but even if everyone only bought two tickets, only 550 people need to be online at 10am for that show to sell out. When we have RFTC shows at the Casbah, with a much lower capacity and a two ticket limit, only 100 people have to be online at that moment to sell it out.
So that being said, I'm going to give you a few tips to be sure you get tickets when a hot show goes on sale.
1. Make sure you have an account on all the major ticketing sites: Ticketmaster, Ticketfly, Ticketweb. About an hour before a show goes on sale, you need to make sure you can log in to your account and that your payment information is accurate.
2. Refresh like crazy. Sometimes a show will go on sale a few minutes before the hour as a test. You should be refreshing your ticket link until you get into the select tickets window.
3. Select the number of tickets FAST and make your clicks fast. Go to another event on the same ticketing site as practice so you know all the things you have to check before the tickets are added to your cart. For example, in Ticketweb, you have to select the number of tickets, choose your method of delivery, accept terms of site, then add to cart. If you have to think about this stuff, you've already taken too long.
4. If you get tickets in your cart, don't change your mind! Say you add 4 tickets to your cart, and then realize you only need 2. Buy all 4 and figure it out later. If you change your order, you go back to the end of the line and those tickets are already gone.
5. If you get a "tickets are not available" message, refresh and refresh again. The venue might decide to add more tickets. Someone could dump their cart. Someone's card could be declined. Those tickets go back into the pool. A friend of mine missed tickets in the first five minutes, but ended up with 3 tickets purchased one ticket at a time because she kept refreshing.
6. Don't get mad if you don't get tickets. Seriously, after Tame Impala sold out, the hateful messages that flooded in were ridiculous. Same with RFTC. The website didn't crash, in fact, it worked exactly as it was supposed to, allowing 100, 300, 600, 800 transactions all to happen at the very same time. Sometimes you're lucky, sometimes not.
7. If you're a superfan, prove it. Don't buy from StubHub, and never pay more than face value on Craig's List. I have two friends who show up at a lot of shows. Some they have tickets for. Sometimes they don't. You never know who just got dumped and is selling or giving away an extra ticket. Maybe the artist was holding tickets but didn't need them and they become available at the box office the night of the show. Maybe the door guy is in a good mood. You never know, but if you care enough, you might be able to find a legit and legal way in. Avoid attempts at bribery, and spare the guy your sob story or fake flirtation. Be cool, and you might get advice on a legit way in.
8. Support bands when they're small. You know why a show sells out in one minute? Because the band is popular, and usually across demographics and genre boundaries. You know how many bands playing the Belly Up, The Observatory, OAT, etc. all played at the Casbah and Soda Bar first? Foster the People played to like 14 people at Soda Bar. Imagine Dragons played at least 3 shows as the SUPPORT act at the Casbah before they blew up. The Casbah and Soda Bar have incredible yet underattended shows all the time. Support live music and you never know who might be the next big thing.
Anyway, these were just some little nuggets that I've been stewing on for awhile. Maybe it's helpful, maybe it's just info you already knew, but since I suddenly become everyone's BFF when a show sells out, I thought I'd share a little insider's view. Carry on, Vic Mensa. Nice Gorillaz cover.