Beat the Bots! A Guide To Buying Cheap Concert Tickets

If you’re someone who likes to see live concerts and have found yourself surrendering to third party sites to buy tickets, this article is for you. This year The Tragically Hip’s Man Machine Poem Tour put a spotlight on a problem that concert-goers have been frustrated by for a long time – bots and brokers.

Bots and brokers have been capitalizing on high-demand tickets, buying them up en masse the minute pre-sales are launched and then re-selling them via third party sites. Popular sites such as and are making a killing from concert-goers desperate to see their favourite artist. These sites are just two examples of the more mainstream sites, but the reality is that this re-sale industry is growing fast, with the number of websites taking up the business of re-selling tickets growing every day.

So who are these brokers and bots? Well brokers are individuals buying up tickets the same way as you and I would, but are doing this as their full time job – so they are investing the resource of time into following presale dates, concert lineup announcements, tour updates etc. The good news is you can beat the brokers, the bad news is that beating them means being on the ball with following your favourite artists so that you are up to date on the same information updates as the brokers, in this way we can create an even playing field as a consumer.

Bots are another issue and are bigger fish to fry; the individual consumer is helpless in terms of creating an even playing field for ticket sales. To beat the bots, we have to rely on major ticket providers such as Live Nation and Ticketmaster to develop programmed blocks on their networks that will keep out the bot programs developed by sophisticated technology geeks – these bot programs buy up thousands of tickets per minute and were the main culprit of Tragically Hip’s final tour across Canada selling out in seconds. This video from the CBC called The Ticket Game: Why you can’t get a good seat  talks about both bots and brokers, and how they impacted ticket sales for this tour that was so close to Canadians’ hearts.

So, what can you do to make sure you get tickets to see your favourite artist? I’ve seen many concerts and have developed some best practices to make sure I always get the tickets I want. Here are 5 tricks to help you get tickets to those big tours.

tickets1) Don’t Wait! Pre-sales and ‘early bird’ tickets are available months ahead of show dates. Don’t wait to buy, even if you haven’t yet worked out travel plans, hotel arrangements etc for shows in other cities. For the planners out there who are hesitant to commit to tickets before they’ve figured out who they will go with, where they will stay etc. I say take the leap of faith when it comes to your favourite artists, and work out the details later. A hotel will always be available, but pre-sale released tickets don’t last long. Early bird discounted tickets are released even further in advance, sometimes even a year before the show for some music festivals. Right now you can buy early bird tickets to music festivals slated for 2017 – for example event organizers of the Rifflandia music festival on Vancouver Island are currently advertising early bird tickets to 3 music festivals next year (Phillips Backyard Weekender, Rock the Shores and Rifflandia)

2) Follow Follow Follow! Check out your favourite artists’ websites and sign up for their email lists. Follow their social media platforms for last minute updates on additional ticket releases, pre-sale dates and tour announcements. Often pre-sale codes are only distributed through email lists, and sometimes users that sign up for the email lists after the fact are not included with pre-sale code updates. For example, when Beyonce announced her most recent Formation Tour, her pre-sale codes were released through the BeyHive – however their website was so inundated with new subscribers on the first day of concert pre-sale that the site crashed and only those who were already members of the email list got pre-sale code email updates. The Tragically Hip also released additional tickets and ticket promos quietly through their email list as a way of reaching out to their fans who were upset with the bot programs that ate through ticket sales. These email updates would come with very little notice to when the additional tickets would be released – going back to point 1 above – always move quickly and figure out the logistics of who you’ll go with, how you’ll get there etc. later when it’s closer to show time

3) Get an AMEX card. American Express has worked out arrangements with Ticketmaster to have their own presales, so additional batches of tickets for major tours are always reserved for AMEX cardholders. These cards have incredible fees for interest and annual rates, so you’ll want to only use this card for concerts and always pay off your balance in full before the next month’s bill cycle when you use it for purchasing tickets.

4) Be on time! When it comes to online presales, seconds count! Be ready at your computer with the website pulled up and have yourself on a countdown to that presale time. The very second the clock strikes the time of presale be clicking away on how many tickets you want. Always default your search to best available if you’re looking for seats close to the stage, and only change this to a specific price range if you are wanting cheap balcony level seats. The seats closest to the stage will sell out the fastest, so don’t waste time searching every price point/ section of the venue – by the time you do that and come back to deciding on best available, the best tickets will be gone.

5) Buy in pairs or be prepared to go single. Searches for odd numbers of tickets will always default to sections further away from the stage. Search in even numbers, or search for single tickets (if you’re ok with going by yourself) to get the best returns closest to the stage.

Happy searching music lovers! For more blog updates and content related to music and concert events follow me on social media! /

38 thoughts on “Beat the Bots! A Guide To Buying Cheap Concert Tickets”

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