"[I]t's an attempt to paint a picture that is real, that is not advertising. You enjoy the light by contrast with the dark."
-- Bono, on Pop
@U2's Ultimate Guide To Buying U2 Tickets
What We've Learned Over The Years About Buying U2 Tickets
March 09, 2009
U2 concert ticket on-sales are starting soon. It's exciting and it's scary. Getting U2 tickets is no easy task, but the reward more than justifies your hard work.
The easy way to buy U2 tickets is to skip the on-sale event and use a ticket broker, scalper, or other reseller. It costs more that way, and there may be risks involved, but you can skip the headache of hunting for tickets when they first go on sale. If that's your plan, this article isn't for you. This is for U2 fans who plan to try to get tickets the old-fashioned way: by fighting for tickets from the time they first go on sale until the concert starts.
About this article: The advice is based on past experience with using Ticketmaster for U.S. ticket sales; we're sorry, but we don't have the experience to share about buying tickets in other countries. Also, some venues may not use Ticketmaster, but we hope the tips shared are still relevant to other ticketing companies.
Before the On-Sale Date
There are several things you can do before tickets go on sale to help your chances.
1.) Join U2.com.
Paid members of U2.com will have "access to a subscriber only ticket pre-sale." Be aware, though, that the first U2.com pre-sale for the Vertigo Tour in 2005 was nothing short of a disaster. On the other hand, U2 stepped in to fix what went wrong, and the pre-sale for the 3rd leg of the tour was a big success.
If it's really important to you, ask a neighbor or co-worker to pay for an account, too, and have them help you get tickets during the pre-sale. Note: That may sound unethical to some, and I understand why. However, you should know that all scalpers/brokers do this, and many of your fellow "regular" U2 fans have more than one account, too.
(Update, March 20: There's been some discussion about this on our forum, and other forums, so let me clear up any confusion: I am not suggesting that one person should create multiple accounts, nor do I own multiple accounts myself. The U2.com Terms & Conditions specifically forbid this. What I'm suggesting is that, if you're worried about getting tickets, ask friends ("neighbor or co-worker" is what I say above) to join U2.com, too, and help you get tickets. There's nothing stopping you from encouraging others to join U2.com, too.)
2.) Network With Other Fans
Use mailing lists, message boards, and social networking sites to connect with other U2 fans. The [U2tour] mailing list allows fans to sell and/or trade tickets at face value only. The U2360 Ticket Exchange group on Facebook helps fans sell/trade tickets, but without a requirement that sales be at face value. Be nice. Make friends. Work together to help each other out. Ask your friends to help you buy tickets for a certain show, and then return the favor by helping them buy tickets when their preferred show goes on sale. If the shows are going on sale on the same day, have each person target a different show. Talk in advance about how much you're willing to spend, where you want to sit, etc. Be organized. Have a plan of attack. And a backup plan, too.
Once your group is established, remember that it's better to have too many U2 tickets than not enough. If you buy more than you need, you can always sell the extras (at face value, of course) to a fellow fan who wasn't as lucky as you. Being on mailing lists may also help you learn when additional tickets are put on sale after the first on-sale date.
3.) Scout Remote Ticket Locations
If you plan to buy tickets in-person, try to find ticket outlets in smaller cities that may have shorter lines when tickets go on sale. Use Ticketmaster's web site to scout locations in advance. Once you've found what looks like a good ticket outlet, call them in advance. Tell them you plan to buy U2 tickets at their location. Find out:
4.) Scout Phone Lines Early
You may have similar luck by calling a phone number in a city that's not having an on-sale that day. For example, you might be able to call a Spokane Ticketmaster number to get tickets for U2 in Texas, and if the Seattle concert isn't going on sale that day, you may have better luck getting through by calling the Spokane line. If you try this route, do advance scouting. Call the remote phone line a couple days in advance and ask the person if you'll be able to call this number to buy tickets to the show you want. They may (or may not) tell you that you need to use a local number; it's worth finding out.
5.) Setup Your Computer/Phone Early
If you plan to buy tickets online or via telephone, set everything up for speed and comfort the night before. Tell friends & family not to call or bother you with instant messages -- you have work to do. Bookmark the appropriate web pages so you don't have to look for the link or type in the address when you should be buying tickets.
In fact, plan on using multiple web browsers -- you can't use two windows in Internet Explorer, but you should be able to use one window in Explorer and another in Firefox (or Safari, etc.). That'll give you twice the chances to score tickets. Likewise, if you have multiple computers, plan on using them all; sit your laptop right next to your main computer and have them both ready to go. If possible, have your cellphone and/or landline phone near you, too. With enough planning and the right equipment, you can give yourself a half-dozen chances to get tickets at the same time:
If you're stuck with a slow Internet connection, consider using a public library, university library, or local cafe/bookstore if the connection is faster ... and if you think you won't be distracted by other people. There are pros and cons to using public Internet access like this, so choose wisely.
6.) Create a Ticketmaster Account
There's no charge to create an account, and doing this in advance will let you save all your personal information -- address, phone, etc. -- in their system. That means less typing and quicker access when tickets are on sale. If you already have a Ticketmaster account, make sure it's updated with your current information and make sure the credit card expiration date (and other information) is correct.
7.) Join the Best Buy Reward Zone Program
We have no insider information, but Best Buy has offered members-only deals for recent tours by The Police and Coldplay. They may have something similar for U2's tour. While you're at it, look for other similar members-only ticket deals that may be offered before or after tickets go on sale to the public.
8.) Find & Download Seating Charts
If they're available, grab the seating charts for every venue you plan to buy tickets for. Keep them handy when tickets go on sale so you can make fast decisions when tickets come up.
The On-Sale Date
1.) Prepare Your Work Area
Have all your equipment ready to go. Make sure phones are working. Make sure your Internet connection is working. Make sure cellphones and laptops are fully charged. Login to your Ticketmaster account early in each browser you plan to use. Have your credit card handy, even if you're ordering online and stored it in your Ticketmaster account. Do everything in advance that you can.
2.) 30 Minutes Before
Call the Ticketmaster phone line. Ticketmaster has upgraded its phone systems since the last U2 tour, and is largely a voice-based system now. The way my phone system works (Ticketmaster Northwest), I would call the number and listen to the introductory message. As soon as the computer voice starts listing the main menu, I would say "Buy Tickets" and then hit "0" to be transferred to a human being.
Your end goal is to get into the "hold" system and hope that a human being picks up close to the exact on-sale time. If a human picks up before the on-sale time, mention that you're looking for information about U2 shows in your area ... ask about prices, seating options, ticket limits, etc. Stall as best you can, trying to keep the operator on the line until the on-sale begins. And then buy as quickly as you can.
Note that your Ticketmaster system may function differently. Try calling ahead of time for a different event to see how it works, and adjust your plans accordingly when U2 goes on sale.
3.) 10 Minutes Before
This is about the time you want to start hitting refresh on the ticket on sale page. Do it every minute at the start, and then more often as you get close to the exact on-sale time. Your clock may be different from Ticketmaster's, and you don't want to miss the start of the on-sale because their 10:00 am was your 9:57 am. But be careful: If you refresh too often, Ticketmaster might think you're a software bot and block you entirely. It's probaby best not to refresh more often than every 5-10 seconds.
4.) When The Sale Starts
The last two U.S. tours were in arenas, and those shows were almost guaranteed to sell out. No one knows what to expect with U2 playing stadiums in the U.S. in 2009. In the past, when one show "sold out," a second show was often added and those tickets went on sale immediately. Be prepared for that. Follow these guidelines:
After the On-Sale Date
This is really, really important: Don't believe it when they say the show is sold out. They do that to create buzz and because it's good marketing. What they mean is that all of the tickets that were made available that day were sold. What they don't tell you is that not all of the available tickets were put on sale; many are held back for sale at a later date.
U2 has a history of holding back tickets as a way to thwart ticket scalping. They usually release tickets as the concert approaches, all the way up to the day of the concert. Also, tickets can re-enter the public sales system after radio stations, advertisers, sponsors, and other partners return their unused/unwanted tickets. Extra tickets might also become available a day or two before the show when the stage is installed and everyone realizes it didn't take up as much space as originally thought.
1.) Check Ticketmaster (as often as possible)
There are fans who will be checking every day, several times a day. They'll get the tickets if you're not doing the same, or at least checking as often as you possibly can. It's especially smart to check more often (i.e., every day, several times a day) in the last couple weeks before the show.
2.) Communicate & Monitor
Watch the mailing lists and message boards closely. Fans will often post alerts like, "Just found Miami tickets on sale. Good luck!" Make sure you're getting every e-mail as they happen, and not getting the once-a-day mailing lists digests. You'll miss a lot of news by being on the digest.
3.) Scout Secondary Ticket Sellers
Most tickets sold on the secondary market are much more expensive, but you may find the odd bargain. It's worth monitoring. In addition to brokers, eBay and Craigslist are sure to have ticket listings.
Important: If you buy from an unofficial source, make sure you are purchasing actual, hard-copy tickets -- don't buy "TicketFast" or any other print-at-home tickets. It's very easy for scammers to print more than one set of tickets and sell the same seats to several fans. If that happens, the first fan to show up and use the printed-at-home tickets will get in, and everyone else will be out of luck. Buying TicketFast tickets from someone you don't know is very, very risky.
4.) Look for VIP Packages
Many venues offer VIP/insider packages that include event tickets. You'll pay extra for the privilege of having drinks and hors d'oeuvres in a very not-rock-n-roll setting, but you'll have a ticket and you may also get a U2-themed gift/collectible.
5.) Listen for Radio Contests
It's a longshot, but many stations (and other media outlets) offer tickets as contest prizes. Some also offer ticket & travel packages, no contest required.
6.) Call/Visit the Box Office
In the last week before the show, call the box office a few times to see if they expect to have any last-minute tickets. On the day of the show, don't bother calling -- just go to the venue and get in line. Or go there and look for fans who may be selling extra tickets (because a friend got sick or missed a flight).
(c) @U2, 2009.