Why it's so difficult to get the tickets you want, according to a former Ticketmaster CEO

Heiko Junge/Getty
Heiko Junge/Getty

You've probably tried and failed to score Justin Bieber tickets for bae's birthday.

There are multiple reasons for your sadness and why those little pieces of hologram-covered card prove recklessly evasive.

In a blog post on The Ringer, the head of media and commerce at Twitter and former CEO of online ticketing company Ticketmaster, Nathan Hubbard, details a set of reasons explaining why the general public find it so difficult to get seats to the NBA, music concerts, and other high-profile nights of entertainment.

Hubbard cites two government reports - in the US and UK - both looking at the issue of ticketing sought-after events.

His reasons have been discussed at some length on Reddit. Overall, Hubbard's explanation and analysis appears legit, although it has to be said that he does gloss over the fault - if any - of Ticketmaster. There are many deviant forces at play.

We've summed up Hubbard's points here:

Tickets don't go on sale when you think

Hubbard says that tickets 'leak out' long before the much-hyped general sale. Private pre-sales to companies and promoters happen long before you get the opportunity to buy. Often, these are extended to people on certain mobile phone networks or fan club members, or to people at corporations with deals in place.

Ticket brokers are quicker than you

Ticket brokers have all the connections. Hubbards uses the analogy of the Kardashian clan strolling past the queue to a nightclub. You're waiting at the back of the line, while those in the know get first pick - either to go themselves or to sell on later for more than the ticket was originally worth.

More seats are held back than you probably realise

Before anyone in the know, or businesses with swanky deals in place even get their hands on tickets, many are lined up for even more exclusivity. That's because many tickets are for promoters themselves, family members of players or stars, key partners, or employees of the businesses involved. It's all about stakeholders - Hubbard notes that in the case of recent Katy Perry and Justin Bieber, just 15 per cent of tickets were made available to Joe Public.

Sometimes the talent is promised a fee that exceeds the face value of tickets

According to Hubbard, music stars and so on are guaranteed by promoters and organisers a fee that is far more than the sale of 100 per cent of tickets sold at face value. Ultimately, then, the examples above are at least partly down to the fact that tickets need to be bottle-necked to raise the price and subsequent earnings.


Simply, our robot overlords are much faster off the market to purchase tickets. Specially made automatic ticket bots are programmed by brokers to grab the best seats as soon as they're made available.

Hubbard later says that "you can't win", although does mention that there are some "solutions" that could be easily implemented to make things fairer.

We won't hold our breath.

Keep reading...Show less
Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)