FAQ – How Can I Get the Best Seats?

“How do I get the best seats?”

It always infuriated me when teachers would reply to a question with a question but in this situation I can’t help myself. How does one define “best seats”? I’m short so I like to sit on the side where the seating is tiered. My mom loved to sit in the upper level but as close the railing as she could get. My mom loved to drop beer on people. (Not really.) Some people insist on sitting dead-center regardless of how far away from the stage it puts them. Which, personally, has always mystified me. The point is – “best seats” can be a very subjective term.

Sometimes people define “best seats” solely as “front row”. And if that’s the case then you will probably be disappointed. Not because front row seats aren’t available to the public. (Quite the contrary and we’ll get to that in a moment.) The problem is simply one of supply and demand. In a standard show configuration there are generally 42 seats in the front row. If a show is designed to seat 4,000 people then that means 1% of the available seating is “front row”. Increase the capacity and that percentage declines rapidly. So, statistically speaking, it’s very difficult to get front row seating. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s simply the reality of it being the most sought after seat in the house.

Before we tackle how to get the best seats allow me to dispel a few misconceptions about ticketing.

Misconception #1The artist takes all the front row/best seats.

Ummm…no. This almost never happens. Seriously. I’ve been in the concert industry in one capacity or another for almost twenty years and I’ve seen this happen twice. One of those times the artist took the entire front row for the sole purpose of upgrading (for free) diehard fans who were sitting in less expensive seats. The other artist was just a jerk. And, no, I won’t tell you who either one was.

But the fact remains that artists rarely take the front row. Do they hold seats for friends and family? Yep. Are those good seats? Yep. But it’s seldom very many, almost never front row and typically a large number of the seats being held go unused and are put back on sale.

Misconception #2The venue takes all the front row/best seats.

Nope. The closest this comes to being true is that sometimes a few front row seats are utilized for marketing purposes. Typically in these instances they are used for some sort of contesting. So, while they might not be available for purchase, they do end up in the hands of the public.

Misconception #3Scalpers scoop them all up.

The venue has no financial incentive to work with or allow scalpers. They take the portion of tickets that are easiest to sell and then profit by selling those tickets at an exorbitant mark-up. Meanwhile we assume all the risk. That’s what we in the “industry” call a “bad deal”. (Not to get all jargony on you or anything.)

While there isn’t a foolproof way to guarantee that tickets won’t fall into the hands of scalpers; we do our best to minimize the likelihood of it happening. In some instances we institute a cap to the number of tickets people are allowed to purchase. Also, our ticketing company (MetroTix.com) strives to prevent the usage of “bots” intended to game the online purchasing system.

Unfortunately if an individual wants to sell their tickets for more money there is a limit to what can be done. Some of the larger acts have tested “non-transferable, paperless ticketing” in an effort to prevent scalping. However, it severely limits how the consumer can utilize their own tickets (i.e. if you get sick there’s no transferring those tickets to a friend and gift giving is pretty much off the table unless you’re going too). But it can be an effective tool for a hot show. You can read more about paperless ticketing here.

So now that you have some insight into what goes on behind the scenes let’s get to why you’re really reading. What’s the best way to get good seats? While none of these will guarantee you the best seating (the lawyers make sure we put qualifiers like that in there) these are ways that could increase your chances.

    1. Scalpers – Let get this one out of the way quickly. First off, let me be clear. In no way are we recommending going to a scalper. But we’re not going to insult your intelligence by pretending they don’t exist. Just remember – it’s a dicey proposition at best. You’ll pay exponentially more than you need to and spend the entire time scared to death that your ticket is counterfeit. But sometimes it works. It’s an option…just not a very good one.
    2. Presale Offers – There are various ways to get special presale codes. The easiest is to join our mailing list. Simply go to the main page of this website and scroll down about half way. (Don’t worry. We won’t sell your email address.) This is the best way to get event announcements, discount offers and presale opportunities.

 

  1. General On Sale – This will seem counterintuitive but sometimes ignoring the presale can actually be to your advantage. Presale offers have become so prevalent that it’s not uncommon for venues to move more tickets during a presale than during the shows “official” on-sale. So how does that mean you can still get good seats?

    Well, when we put a show on sale we know that there will be a presale and a general on-sale. In an effort to make sure that people have access to the best seating regardless of which version of the on-sale they take part in, we make sure that there is the same amount of seating available in the first 10 rows for the presale as there is for the on-sale. In the past, this meant that people using a presale code would have better access to that seating as people were more skittish about making an online purchase. However, over the past decade as people have become more comfortable with internet commerce, those numbers have started to reverse themselves. Therefore it’s not unheard of for high quality seats to be available during the general on-sale.

    Now, I’d have to advise you to use your head on this one. Are we talking about a Pink Floyd reunion with Led Zeppelin as the opening act? Then grab the first ticket the system offers you because you’re lucky to have gotten them in the first place. But if you’re talking about an act that comes to town every 18-months to 2-years then this just might be your best option.

  2. Wait – Ok, I’m not going to lie. This one is going to take patience and nerves of steel. And there’s no guarantee that it will work. But life doesn’t come with guarantees now, does it?Wait.That’s right. Just…wait. How long? Like until a few hours before the show starts. Remember that part at the top where we talked about the tickets that artists keep for themselves? Well, typically those artists don’t know near as many people in town as they thought they did. So, rather than have those tickets go to the waste, they release those tickets back on to the system.

    Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule on when this will happen. It typically occurs the day of the show but it could happen at almost any point (though a safe rule-of-thumb is in the late afternoon). Your best bet is to keep an eye on MetroTix.com for the “Best Available” seating to update.

    Oh, and don’t bother to call us. We can’t sell you tickets over the phone. That’s what MetroTix (314-534-1111) is for. And even if they have released their seats they’d be gone by the time you got here. So MetroTix.com is your friend.

    And, another tip for you…this can work on sold-out shows too.

  3. VIP Packages – Remember our last blog post called “Can I Meet the Band?” In it we discussed VIP Packages. While those often come with meet & greet passes and cool merchandise/souvenirs they also typically come with premium seating. And while they’re not cheap they’re probably still less expensive than what you’d pay a scalper. But a scalper won’t provide all the extra cool stuff. And, as an added bonus, you won’t spend the months leading up to the show wondering if you bought counterfeit ticket. So you’re also buying a little piece of mind.

In the end, there really isn’t a foolproof way of guaranteeing yourself the “best seats”. However, these are your best options. Not just for here but for concerts in general.

Coming Up: How Ticket Brokers are now scalping the “cheap seats”.

Have a question about how all this works? Don’t be shy. Email your question to
tokeefe@familyarena.com

       

Comments

    • By Tom O'Keefe - on Reply

      Every event has a show-specific seating chart. In the very rare event that we sell obstructed-view seating it will be labeled as such. Should you find yourself in seating where you feel your view is obstructed (for instance, sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly how speakers or staging might affect sight lines) simply contact an usher or to the box office and every attempt will be made to relocate you to comparable seating.

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