The Sale Before the Sale

Terry Charles

terry charles | behind the stage | sept. 2019

The ticketing world is ever-changing. Back in the day if you wanted a ticket you would drive up to a box office and buy a ticket with cash or check and then eventually credit card. Then you could order by phone and as time went on you could buy tickets over the internet.

The days are pretty much over when you see long lines for people to buy tickets when a big concert is going on sale. Part of the reason of course is because fans are buying online, but the other reason is when people are buying. Several years ago, events started doing something called a pre-sale. That means select people could buy tickets before they went on sale to the general public.

At first the pre-sale was meant as a perk for artist fan clubs and perhaps preferred partners. Eventually it became a perk for those who got a code from a radio station or for those who signed up to receive emails from the venue. It still is a perk for all of those, but the pre-sale option is much less hidden than it was years ago. The pre-sale is still typically not advertised through the traditional means, but it is pushed through social media like Facebook and Twitter.

So now, for almost every event, there is a pre-sale – a sale before the on-sale to the general public. But really, just about everyone can get access to a pre-sale. The most obvious way is to subscribe to our Ticket Star newsletter. That will give you a link and a passcode to buy the tickets before they “go on sale” to things at the Resch Center, Weidner Center and Meyer Theatre.

A pre-sale is still somewhat of a privilege because it isn't always advertised as obvious as the regular on-sale. It seems though that the pre-sale is almost becoming the new on-sale because anyone that knows how to access it can indeed buy tickets. There are still many people who don't understand how people can get tickets before they “go on sale” because they don't know how the pre-sale system works.

The other question we get about pre-sales vs. on-sales is what tickets are available for each? The answer is tickets in all locations are available for both sales. It is always up to a promoter to decide how many tickets can be sold in the pre-sale. There have been several times in recent years when a pre-sale sold out. Then fans are upset they couldn't get tickets earlier.

The other difference in a pre-sale is that it is always online only. Sometimes you can pick your seat, but most times you must take what the computer determines as best available. A pre-sale ticket is not available to buy over the phone or in person at the box office.

It's a myth to think all of the good seats were taken in a pre-sale. Good seats are usually held for the general public on-sale too. The emergence of the pre-sale has given concert and event promoters another kick at the cat for sales. And by the way, I love cats so no one should dare kick one!

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