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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

You’re on the waitlist.”

Four words that can shatter the dreams of any concertgoing hopeful. The truth of modern-day concert culture is that one can budget, outfit plan, and register all they want, but no one is guaranteed access to ticket sales.

Even the lucky few who are given the opportunity to purchase tickets may find themselves the unfortunate victims of multi-hour-long lines or dynamic ticket pricing. Dynamic pricing is a ticketing system that adjusts the cost of tickets based on consumer demand. While this is said to prevent tickets from being resold through third parties, it often causes the cost of high-demand seats to skyrocket. Another thing to keep in mind is that this system is greenlit by the artists on a case-by-case basis; if the show you’re looking to see employs this system, it’s not solely due to the ticket vendors’ desire to make more money.

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During artists like Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo’s recent tours, fans fought for presale codes like they were golden tickets, hoping for their lucky shot at a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Unfortunately, those who aren’t given access to these coveted presales are almost guaranteed to be excluded from the event. With tickets selling out in a matter of hours, the only option left for these fans is to turn to resellers, who inflate ticket prices to astronomical levels.

The largest issue with these systems is that most artists do not employ a merit-based process to judge who will receive a code. While select (often smaller) artists open the presales to those who qualify as “top fans” based on Spotify listening habits, it’s uncommon for larger artists to utilize this technology.

While Ticketmaster alleges that ticket-buying habits are verified before presale codes are sent out, this system is far from reliable, as newly created accounts have no history to be checked. Those with multiple registered emails and accounts can fly under the radar and purchase tickets at more affordable prices.

It seems almost hypocritical that artists should criticize resellers when a more merit-based system is right in front of them. Is it not preferable that an artist’s vetted top listeners on a popular streaming platform are granted access in comparison to thousands of resellers selected through a lottery? Unfortunately, with the current lotteries in place, fans are rewarded for the credit cards they use rather than the years they spend supporting an artist.

This brings issues of classism to the table; artists who have made millions from devoted fans have put systems in place that bar these same fans from ever attending their shows. Instead, these fans are denied access to quasi-affordable initial ticket sales and forced to purchase overpriced relisted tickets or skip the shows altogether. When looking at concert attendance, wealthy casual enjoyers are given priority over super-fans with less money to spend. The same wealthy fans can purchase tickets to multiple shows while others are left in the dust.

Some artists have noticed this imbalance and taken action. Billy Joel even blocks off the first row of seats at his shows to surprise lifelong fans in the back rows with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Close to home, ticket sales have become a major topic of conversation among UCF students, especially with Olivia Rodrigo’s recently announced GUTS tour heading to Orlando in March 2024. One such student, Amanda Jones, says of online ticket vendors, “I think the presale codes help limit the people in the [queue] but it’s still thousands of people and [many] still aren’t able to get tickets. Personally, I think they should just split it up more and only let a certain amount of people during this time.” She also said, of stats-based presales, “I think listening stats is more of a fair way to do it, but what if you’re going with your family or you just started to listen to the artist?” This addresses the main issue with this technology— that newer listeners might be excluded from shows with an alternative code-distribution system.

A second UCF student, who wishes to remain anonymous, felt that “it was really frustrating to be waitlisted for a concert ‘to protect from bots and resellers’ but still see lots of tickets being sold through resell sites. I feel like a merit system would be very interesting and would be better than what’s in place now, but I still feel like it wouldn’t address some of the major problems with buying concert tickets. I feel that people will still find a way around either protection system.” This student added, “Personally, I was waitlisted for two different artists within this past year through the lottery system. If this system had been through a merit-based system, I still probably would not have gotten tickets even though I still love both of the artists. My streaming statistics for both artists are really low on Spotify because I own their albums through different media sources, like CDs. I could still listen to the artist just as much as someone else, but there isn’t a way to count the minutes I spend listening to a CD similar to how Spotify automatically keeps track and uploads the information to a site like Ticketmaster.”

It appears a foolproof system is an impossible ideal, but that doesn’t mean that online ticketing sites don’t have much to learn. Hopefully, they will someday find a way to work with artists and make sales fairer and more accessible to the public. Until then, all we can do is cross our fingers and hope to be among the lucky few who make the cut.

Olivia is a first-year writer with Her Campus and third-year student at UCF with a major in Film and minors in Creative Writing and Theatre. In her free time, Olivia enjoys visiting local coffee shops, checking films off of her watchlist, and writing scripts! She hopes to become a professional screenwriter and playwright.