Getting your mitts on the golden tix

By Scott Kara

How do you buy those precious concert tickets before the scalpers? Scott Kara investigates.

Thousands of New Zealand fans were left fuming after missing out on tickets to Metallica, a band who arguably could have played the 60,000-capacity Western Springs Stadium but opted for two shows at Vector Arena instead.

The concerts sold out in less than 20 minutes when they went on sale to the public on May 13 - and within hours ridiculously priced tickets started appearing on Trade Me.

However, much of the frustration of buying tickets to big-name shows like this can be solved by signing up to your favourite band's fan club.

Of course, nothing is assured in the cut-throat world of ticket buying, where shows can sell-out in seconds. But the special privileges fans get are more of a guarantee than taking a punt on ticket agency presales or general public sales.

Major acts like Metallica, and others such as U2 and Coldplay, more often than not offer members exclusive presale tickets to shows.

For example, the Metallica fan club presales went on sale on May 4, a week before the Ticketmaster presale and 10 days before sales to the general public opened.

Taking the fan club option will cost you though. In Metallica's case, quite a lot.

For a New Zealander to join Metclub you pay around $90 - add that to the price of the ticket (between $133-$153.50) and it's an expensive night out.

But if you're a big enough fan then chances are you won't mind forking out - and it's better than missing out or paying extortionate prices on the black market.

As one Metallica fan on Trade Me pointed out amid the rage over scalpers selling tickets on the auction site: "I can understand the anger but most people could have paid extra and bought from Metclub and avoided the frustration."

Mostly though, ticket buying is done online through ticket agencies and comes down to luck rather than how quick you are on the refresh button.

But there are ways and means to give yourself a better chance.

Making sure the clock on your computer is telling the right time helps for starters. There's no use logging on to buy at 9am when it's actually 9.03am.

Also, register with major ticketing agencies like Ticketmaster and Ticketek (or Visa) that have presales a few days before tickets go on sale to the public. Although, as many punters have found out even with Ticketmaster presales you have to be lucky.

One Metallica fan told TimeOut he logged on "on the dot of midday" and had to try three times before eventually securing four tickets - but only silver seats rather than the premium floor tickets he was wanting.

Metallica promoters Michael Coppel Presents would not reveal how many tickets are left over for the public after presales. However, a spokesperson says: "The allocations are split across all pre-sales and [general public] on-sales to ensure all people have access to a selection of seats in all price categories."

Meanwhile, Chris Forbes, the chief operating officer of Ticketmaster Australasia, is equally tight-lipped about ticket allocation, saying the number of tickets for presales and public sales can vary between events. But surely, one way of making it fairer is restricting sales to two tickets per person rather than four as it is now?

Forbes says it is a fine balance between limiting ticket sales per person while also ensuring all tickets are sold and promoters don't miss out on potential sales.

Another common complaint from ticket buying punters is that the Ticketmaster website crashes when demand is heavy.

Not so says Forbes.

"We have many times more capacity than we'll ever require across New Zealand. We now sell thousands of tickets per minute during high demand on-sales - which is why a concert at Vector Arena can sell out in minutes given enough demand."

But while buying tickets online is now the most popular method of purchase, the old school approach of lining up outside the record shop with your sleeping bag is still a sound alternative.

Adrian Osman of Real Groovy in Queen St says all those hardcore Metallica fans who lined up early enough managed to get tickets.

However, while he won't reveal the number of tickets the shop was allocated he says some walked a way empty-handed.


* Join the fan club.

* Sign up to My Ticketmaster or Ticketek for presale offers.

* Visa also does presales to some concerts.

* Make sure your computer is showing the correct time.

* Be logged on as soon as tickets go on sale.

* Sign up your top bands and artists as "favourites" on
Ticketmaster which gives you priority.

* To fast-track through Ticketmaster's checkout, sign up to My
Ticketmaster and register your billing information prior to buying
tickets to avoid extra steps when completing transactions.

- NZ Herald

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