How Do Concerts Sell Out So Fast?


How is it That Concerts Sell Out So Darn Quickly?

The sold out concert is the bane of the music fans’ existence.  Nothing irks them more then when a large venue, presumably one with thousands of seats, sells out in a few minutes.

Supporters of big time acts like Justin Bieber, Maroon 5, and Pink frequently complain about a lack of concert tickets.  When public sales begin these fans are eagerly sitting in front of their computers with valid credit cards at the ready.  Even then, they still have problems procuring tickets.

Irate fans want to know why do concerts sell out so fast?

The answer will surprise you and it has nothing to do with resellers snatching up tickets.

So Few Tickets

The reason why concerts sell out so fast is only a small portion of the overall tickets actually go on sale.  Most tickets are sold via presales to high-end credit card holders and fan club members.  Then a bunch of tickets are given to the artist, promoter, venue, radio stations, and other entities within the music industry.

Depending on the artist, and size of the venue, by the time tickets go on sale to the general public only a few thousands are available, sometimes only a few hundred.  This small allotment of concert tickets means a venue can sell out extremely fast, certainly fast enough to frustrate fans.

For example, at a Justin Bieber concert in Fresno, California 92 percent of tickets were held back.  When the tickets finally went on sale to the general public only 940 were available.  The arena hosting Bieber’s concert held 12,000.

At a Taylor Swift concert in Nashville, only 1,591 tickets were available for purchase.  The venue that hosted her performance, now called the Bridgestone Arena, seats 13,330.

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Ticket Presales

If you want to, you can participate in the aforementioned presales.  All you have to do is get yourself a high-end credit card and join a bunch of expensive fan clubs (most charge an annual membership fee).

Sometimes, the tickets held back by the artists and promoters are released for sale on the primary market the day before the concert.  Other times, their tickets find their way onto resale sites.

To put it another way, artists and promoters keep tickets away from the primary market so they can be sold for higher than face value price on the secondary ticket market.  Artists and promoters chide ticket resellers for preventing “real fans” from getting tickets but it’s them who really keep fans out of the best seats.

Never Really Sell Out

You can parse this entire discussion another way and say some concerts never really sell out.  If various entities, from performers to radio stations, possess large block of tickets, and those tickets are eventually made available for purchase, then the concert hasn’t actually sold out.  At the very least, it didn’t sell out in a few minutes like the artist claims.

Obviously, artists want to brag about their concerts selling out in minutes. And obviously, the live music industry does what it can to make that happen.  Yet, knowing the “sold out” concert is a myth (or at least knowing that it can be a myth) isn’t going to help you secure a seat.

Popular Acts

Now some concerts legitimately do sell out and do so extremely fast.  If a touring act is popular enough demand maybe so high that it doesn’t matter how many tickets are available to the general public.  If it’s 940 or 20,000, the concert is going to sell out in minutes.

So, if an artist is hitting the road to promote a number one album, or a legendary band has reunited for the first time in years, you should anticipate a huge demand for concert tickets.  That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of luck.  Like we said earlier, just buy your tickets from a secondary ticket market site.

Good Seats Still Available

You should also know that the reverse can happen.  An artist can struggle to sell concert tickets.  When this occurs you should have no problem getting a good seat.  Better yet, when few people are interested in attending a concert prices drop on the secondary ticket market.  If demand is low enough you just might find tickets on the secondary ticket market below their face value price.

Artists aren’t keen on announcing that no one wants to see them perform live.  If you want an indicator of the public’s disinterest in a particular concert, just check out a secondary ticket site like Clickitticket.  If prices begin to fall then you know demand for tickets is low.

Another indicator is the primary ticket market.  If Ticketmaster or any other primary ticket seller cuts prices then you know the artist is desperate to fill seats.

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In Conclusion

There are states considering legislation that would force promoters to announce the actual number of tickets that go on sale to the general public (New Jersey being one).  The live music industry has, of course, fought such legislation.

Even if promoters are forced to be transparent you should still be prepared for a paucity of concert tickets especially if you refuse to obtain a high-end credit card or join a fan club.