When it comes to buying tickets for concerts and sporting events it helps to know all of the intricacies involved. This will be your all-inclusive guide to the good, bad, ugly, and secrets of buying tickets in today’s world. A lot has changed over the years for the average person to feel comfortable buying seats. We will go over all of the different things you need to think about. We’ll go over ticket terminology, primary vs. secondary ticket markets, Ticketmaster shenanigans, ticket brokers, promo codes, presale codes, and other things to help you navigate the ticket buying landscape.
You Can Save Yourself a lot of Money if You Read This Guide.
Let’s Break it Down
We will first clarify the biggest misunderstanding of the ticket market. If you can understand this, you’ll be ahead of half the people buying tickets for events. Knowing the difference between the primary and secondary ticket markets is the first step to a better deal.
Primary Ticket Market
Buying from the primary ticket market is where you should start. There are many times when the secondary market is important, but not necessarily at the beginning. In most cases, it’s best to start with the primary ticket sellers and then move on to the secondary marketplace.
If you decide you want to buy concert tickets for the next Ed Sheeran concert tour, it will be up to you to find out when tickets go on sale. In most cases, there will be a presale and onsale date. We’ll get into those two things in a bit.
This is where Ticketmaster gets a bad rep and for good reason. There are currently three BIG players in the primary market. There are others, but for this article, we will discuss the big three. We should say the Big Two since Live Nation merged with Ticketmaster. The other big dog in primary tickets is AXS.
Promoters of concert tours will determine which primary ticket location they will use to sell their upcoming tickets. When you want the biggest audience you go with the biggest companies. Hence why Ticketmaster is in play on more occasions than anyone else. Promoters will use AXS when they feel like they can succeed.
Okay, so back to what we were saying about Ed Sheeran. You now want to go buy tickets to the show near you while also trying to get the best seats. The prices will come out based on what the promoter thinks the right supply and demand threshold is.
It’s now up to you to get in line and purchase your tickets from Ticketmaster, Live Nation, or AXS. We wish it was that easy as a consumer, but unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that way for most.
You are up against all of the people trying to buy the same tickets as you. A majority of the ticket buyers aren’t actual fans. They are ticket brokers who are trying to get the best prices on tickets that they can. They will go after as many as they can buy based on demand and then resale those tickets with a heavily marked-up price hoping to profit.
In the end, you are not only competing for seats against other fans, you are competing against brokers who want tickets to resell for profits. More often than not, the reason a show sells out so fast isn’t because of the fans buying up all the tickets, it’s the brokers scooping as many as they can. This isn’t always the case, but it is a huge factor. We’ll get into the secondary market next which will break this down a little more.
Now that you have a better understanding of the primary market when it comes to tickets, let us discuss the secondary ticket market. This is where a lot of tickets are bought and sold each day. Let us be upfront, a secondary market is critical to this industry.
Currently, there are dozens of secondary sites buying and selling tickets. Some of the bigger names include StubHub, SeatGeek, Vivid Seats, Ticket Network, and Tickpick. Each one of these has its way of doing business. You can read about the best ticket sites here for more information.
Although some of these sites have access to primary tickets we will focus on their core business model which is the secondary marketplace.
Whether you are a season ticket holder of teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Cowboys, Colorado Avalanche, or New York Yankees or just an everyday fan, you have the means to sell your tickets to others. In most cases, you will try to not only make your face value back but profit from the deal.
This is where the secondary market comes into play. It gives you the chance to sell tickets to games you can’t attend or concerts that don’t fit your schedule.
This also means it is a location for people like ticket brokers to sell tickets to the masses and profit. People will buy tickets on the primary market and instantly put them on the secondary like StubHub or SeatGeek.
By having the secondary market, you have a way to unload unwanted tickets as a season ticket holder. These sites make it fairly easy to sell tickets.
Selling tickets isn’t free to do. StubHub will charge you 15% to sell your seats. This is a big reason why we see an inflated price on the secondary market. This business is all about the fees. You can read a small case study below to get a better understanding.
EXAMPLE – If you bought two tickets to an event for $100 a ticket or $200 total, you will then have to sell your tickets for at least $230 to break even based on the fee structure above. If you want to make a little bit of profit you will have to go up from there.
Let’s say it’s a super high-demand show like Harry Styles at Madison Square Garden. You now have the chance to sell your great seats for the price that meets the demand. You can list each ticket at $300 and if they sell for a total of $600, you will walk with $490 after StubHub or other places take their fee. It hurts to pay more fees right after you paid your fees to buy the original tickets. The costs of selling tickets can be hard to stomach, but it is part of the process.
Primary Vs. Secondary
Without the primary ticket market, there is no secondary ticket market. Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of primary ticket sellers. With Ticketmaster cornering the market, they can control pricing, when tickets get released, and many other things to help their bottom line. This allows them to be super shady which we will discuss shortly regarding dynamic pricing and official platinum.
You should always look at the primary market seating chart first. Whether you buy tickets there or not, this will give you a heads-up of what’s available. You can then look at the secondary market to determine how much more tickets cost. You will notice big price swings in a lot of cases. This is where you need to be smart and figure out the best time to get concert tickets. The last thing you want to do is buy overpriced tickets when there are still standard tickets available.
BIGGEST TIP – This is where it gets harry for us. The way we make money is on the secondary market and to share this secret could hurt our profits. However, it’s very important, to be honest with our visitors. There is a significant amount of people who immediately go to the secondary market when tickets go on presale or onsale. They may not realize that the standard admission seats are still readily available on primary sites and at the original prices. By going to a secondary site they are automatically purchasing a marked-up ticket when regular seats may still be available.
Many ticket brokers will do one of two things. They will buy the tickets on the primary market and immediately list their seats on the secondary with a big profit margin. On the other hand, they could list seats on the secondary without owning the tickets. They are assuming they will get tickets at the presale date. This is known as speculating tickets. We are not a big fan as we will discuss this later.
Should You Buy Tickets on the Primary Market or Secondary Market?
This is a very deep question when it comes to buying tickets. The short answer is. You should buy tickets on the primary market if you find good seats.
Ticketmaster is notorious for selling you higher-priced seats when they see they can make more money. If you miss the presale or onsale dates, you can then shift to sites like Vivid Seats and StubHub. You can do cross-comparisons on seats and determine which is best for you.
Things you need to be aware of include official platinum tickets, dynamic pricing, and other resale tickets.
We talk about timing your purchase throughout this site. This will also come down to demand. If demand is super high, you may have to fork over even more money than you had planned.
We like the secondary market better. Ticketmaster or Live Nation already made their profit. If you buy from them on the secondary market they are making even more money from the fees. Buying tickets from SeatGeek or others will help spread the money around.
Verified Resale Tickets – You will see this or Resale tickets all over Ticketmaster when a show is sold out or people that bought on Ticketmaster have now relisted their seats at a higher price. Again, if you do the math, they have to first increase the price to get their money back plus fees, and then they will want to increase the price to make some profit as well. What once was $100 in total can now be $175. We like buying resale tickets on the other sites and not on Ticketmaster.
Other Ticket Marketplaces
There are other ways to get tickets for events. If you don’t want to go to one of the sites mentioned above you could try to get tickets from other places. We have no connection to any of these but we want you to be aware that they exist. We also want you to be careful when buying tickets no matter the price.
You have Facebook marketplace. This is a pretty reasonable way to get tickets. Since most tickets are mobile these days, they can be sold from anywhere and sent through one of the mobile apps.
eBay used to be the way to buy tickets. This isn’t the case as much anymore, but you can still check it out if you’ve run out of options. You’ll be covered by eBay, but you can also expect tickets to be more since eBay takes a big fee.
Craigslist goes as far back as the Internet. You’ll have to throw out some trust cards and hope for the best when buying from a stranger. More often than not you should be good to go. Try to use a method of payment that you can help fight in case the transaction goes south. You could meet in person if they are local
Unless the venue you are dealing with has a local box office, you are most likely going to have to deal with a company like Ticketmaster or Live Nation. It wasn’t too long ago when Live Nation bought Ticketmaster which made everything even more of a monopoly.
Usually, the promoter of the event or the sports team sets the prices. TM and LN will make their money on fees and of course on their premium seating. We will get into this below.
If Bad Bunny decides he wants to tour he can select Ticketmaster as a means of getting tickets. This means there are no other ways to buy primary tickets to this event. This also means Ticketmaster corners the market and collects all of the fees. How does this help the consumer? The only thing it does is help keep things organized so there aren’t duplicate sales on the primary.
Congress has created bills and other measures to break up the Ticketmaster monopoly, but nothing has changed. Here are two things to look out for that are affected because of this.
Official Platinum – You will see some of the best seats available on the seating chart throughout the venue. These are the seats that are the ones we would all want. No matter which section or row, these seats are usually premium of some kind. Prices will vary based on the location, but the prices of these tickets will exceed standard admission by a ton. Ticketmaster knows people will pay these prices to have the best seats while also not having to worry about the secondary market. On the presale or onsale date, you will be paying secondary pricing when you buy these. We suggest you avoid these unless you are desperate and these are the last resort.
Dynamic Pricing – This is the scam of all scams. Dynamic pricing is Ticketmaster in full control. They raise the prices during sale dates as they see demand come in. If they see a large number of people buying tickets they will sneakily raise standard prices. They will even raise the prices when in the cart or at checkout. This is one of the many dirty things Ticketmaster does. This makes selling tickets somewhat difficult as well since you are paying a premium on seats that may be right next to you. If you see dynamic pricing go ahead and send them an email and complain. The more people that let them know about their frustration the better chances we see this removed.
A significant reason why tickets are so expensive, hard to come by, or the queues are so long is because of ticket brokers. Ticket brokers are known to buy at standard prices on the primary market and then sell at a much higher price on the resale market.
The tools available make this easy and they get better all of the time. They have tools like Broker Genius now known as Automatiq, which merged with Seat Scout to make pricing and listing a cinch.
Brokers know what they are doing. They have teams with lots of resources to buy as many tickets as they can. They use fake accounts to fool Ticketmaster or they use bots to help go around all of the walls and security the primary brokers put up.
If you do decide to head out to a secondary seller site, there is a good chance the tickets you are buying are from some kind of broker. This isn’t always the case, but it doesn’t matter as long as you get your tickets.
This is one of the more shady things that happen in the ticket industry. The INTENTION is good for the ticket broker when it comes to selling tickets. However, they list tickets on secondary sites like StubHub and Vivid Seats making it seem like they have them. Most of the time the broker will get the seats, but you won’t know until the day of the event. This is why on the presale and onsale days you should stick with the primary site like AXS, Live Nation, or Ticketmaster. Try to avoid Spec Tickets if possible.
Concert Tickets Vs. Sport Tickets
When it comes to sports and concert tickets one of the major differences is the season ticket holders. These seats get eaten up at the beginning of seasons and get placed on the secondary market when the schedule is announced. This isn’t for all sports, but a lot of professional ones. With so many tickets taken when the onsale dates come it makes it difficult since you are competing with ticket brokers and fans.
On the other side, you have concert announcements. When these go on sale the promoter will set the stage and decide how many seats are available on a first come first serve basis. If you are one of the lucky ones to get in front of the queue, then good for you. In more cases, you will get left out of all the good seats.
What About All of the Codes?
Verified Fan Codes – If you are a true fan of the band or performer we suggest you get on their verified fan list. It doesn’t require much and it will give you a code when it comes to their future concerts. These codes will get sent to you when they are available. This will keep the bots and ticket brokers down to a minimum. It doesn’t always work, but it is one step you should take. Usually, when you get into the ticket listings page you will enter a specific code and certain seats will show up.
How to get presale codes? – Concert presale codes are one of those things that are still a mystery. It’s like getting access to the underground club so you can pay a ton of money to get in. If you are buying tickets on the presale date you will want to have a code ready. It’s the only way you will be able to unlock seats in the venue. You can search Twitter and other social media platforms for presale codes. You can also signup with Ticket Flipping or Shows on Sale to get access to all kinds of codes as well. Some sites allow you to pay a monthly fee for codes, but more than likely they are never good.
Onsale Codes – If you missed the presale date you are most likely left with the leftovers. Promoters will save seats for those that missed the dates. So, make sure you get a working onsale code so you can unlock a fairly decent seat.
SeatGeek Promo Codes – These codes are used at checkout. You will never get a SeatGeek Promo Code from a random person or site. All approved promo codes will come directly from SeatGeek. If you have any questions about this you can contact them directly.
Discount Codes – StubHub is known for having its discount codes at checkout. Just like the other sites you should stick with codes from StubHub. Most of the codes you see on sites that say they have codes are bogus. Only the site will give you the code for checkout purposes and it will most likely not save you that much money.
Credit Card Promos – American Express – Citi – Verizon
If you plan to go to a lot of events each year we suggest you get a good working credit card from AMEX or Citi. A lot of concerts have sponsors and this will get you access to certain events early. This will allow you to get primary tickets ahead of those without. Verizon is another method of promotion. There are times when Verizon customers will get access ahead of others who don’t use their services.
Joining Ticketmaster Queues
How do you get to the top of the Ticketmaster Queue? You might hear people say they have a way to get to the top of the queue for a Ticketmaster event. Or, they have the best tips. Let us tell you, there is no magical method to be had here. You are in the queue with 100, 1000, 2000, 5000, or 10,000 people and you have the same chance as the rest of them. Picking a different minute during the 10-minute window won’t make a difference. Being the first to enter doesn’t matter either. Ticketmaster will never tell us what they do to make this fair, but in a lot of instances, it never seems fair.
The only thing we can suggest is having multiple people with multiple Ticketmaster accounts in different locations. This will be your best bet when finding yourself in the queue. You can then take the one that has the best spot in line.
So, Now What? Final Thoughts
We suggest you share this article with your friends and family. This could help them save money on tickets and not go down the wrong path. Every industry has some kind of dark side and we hope this uncovered some of those ticket buying secrets. There is a ton of other information to know about buying tickets and we will keep adding the material here.
We are a liaison for ticket companies and it is important to be transparent. We have nothing against these companies and this site wouldn’t be here unless they were available. We want everyone to succeed. We also want consumers, fans, or whomever you are to have an affordable option when it comes to events. What that fine line is will always be tested and we hope these primary ticket companies can help not only reduce fees but reduce ticket prices.