Concert Tickets Elusive to Most Fans

Why and how do tickets sell out so fast?

Buying tickets for the biggest concert in town takes work.

You have to be at your computer the exact minute tickets go on sale and hope they aren't sold out. Why and how do tickets sell out so fast?

On April 11, fans lined up for hours to see superstar Rihanna perform at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego.

Most of the people in the line told NBC 7 Investigates they bought their tickets before they went on sale to the general public.

“I got an email from Live Nation there was a presale,” said one fan.

Another said she bought her tickets presale last September.

Popular pop-star Justin Bieber is coming to Valley View Casino center this June.

In January, Bieber played in Nashville. Documents obtained by NBC found only 1,001 tickets went on sale to the general public, which was 7% of the total seats available.

Nearly 73% went to pre-sales for Bieber's official fan club. Tickets were also sold before the public on-sale date through expensive VIP packages and to American Express card holders.

Almost all the rest - including prime floor seats - went to Bieber, his record label and support teams.

A familiar name in San Diego radio, AJ Machado, says the trend is only getting worse.

“I've always had people come up and ask me for tickets, but now people are desperate. Parents that would gladly buy their kids tickets can’t find them anywhere.” Machado said.

AJ says it's not the artist’s fault. He believes many factors contribute to the problem.

“I don't know how much they even know about the deals being cut,” the radio host said. “I wouldn't totally blame the artist.”

Ticketmaster is the largest ticket seller.

The company partially blames the fast sell-outs on scalpers using automated ticket-purchasing software, referred to as “bots” that aggressively purchase tickets on their site.

“We invest millions of dollars on our back end system to determine if you are human or are you a ‘bot’ and we thwart millions of ‘bot’ requests a year," Ticketmaster spokesperson Jacqueline Peterson told NBC 7 Investigates.

SoundDiego music contributor Tim Pyles said the current system is frustrating and expensive for fans.

“To buy a ticket that's worth $ 75 at a $250 price, it doesn't benefit the whole system, somebody is making money obviously it’s this middle man that's jumping in and kind of subverting the system,” Pyles said.

So what are your options?

You can buy presale tickets by holding a specific credit card or you can join artists' official fan clubs.
Some are free or relatively cheap, depending on the artist. However, the biggest stars can get pricey.

Membership costs $100 a year for Justin Bieber’s fan club.

Ultimately, Pyles said fans have to be persistent.

“It’s like anything, when you are in a crowded venue or a big festival and you are trying to use our cell phone and everyone else is trying to use their cell phone at the same time. You are all not getting through. So it’s just one of those things you have to be in it to win it,” he said.

NBC 7 left several messages for the General Manager for Valley View Casino Center. He never returned our request for comment. His assistant told us they couldn't disclose how the tickets were handed out for the Rihanna concert.

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