U2 tickets: swaps vs the secondary market

Getting tickets for U2 concerts has always been a bit of a hassle, going all the way back to the mid-Eighties for some parts of Europe. Dutch fans may remember the riots in Rotterdam during the Joshua Tree ticket sales. Things haven’t got easier in the age of the internet. You’re not dealing with a score of fans queueing up outside a box office overnight, you’re competing with the rest of the world.

It helps to get organised. Buddy up with friends, use multiple computers, open multiple browsers, cross yourself, three hail Marys, you may get lucky. If you do, you could end up with the tickets you want. Or you may find yourself with some you don’t. Time to start swapping your extras for those you really want.

Fans swap tickets among themselves using fansite forums and mailing lists and, more recently, social networks like Facebook, which has just got its own U2360° Tour ticket exchange group. Some people go for travel packages, forking out for hotels or parties, just to get a ticket. Others venture onto eBay to buy or sell, or try the ticket brokers.

The so called secondary market is much maligned. This week, Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor spoke out against the secondary market in Rolling Stone. Other artists decide they want a cut of the market, and mark up their own tickets to profit. U2 themselves have opted to let Ticketmaster auction off VIP-tickets, donating an undisclosed portion of the proceeds to support (RED) and the Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa.

For the buyer, the secondary market can be a risky business. Tickets are sold for much more than face value and it’s often hard to tell whether the seller is reliable. You wouldn’t be the first to get duped. UK-based Seatwave (‘the fan to fan ticket exchange’), a relatively new ticket reseller, offers a different approach. Founded by Joe Cohen, formerly of Match.com and Ticketmaster, this company allows anyone to buy or sell tickets on the exchange. The price can be selected by the seller, below or above face value.

Seatwave says their ‘power sellers’ are vetted carefully: “Anyone with under a 98% fulfillment rate is banned from listing tickets”. Additionally, Seatwave has a team to source tickets to fill any breakages that occur and offers refunds if suitable replacement tickets can’t be found. The website currently list tickets for most of the recently on sale U2 concerts, with prices ranging between the fair (£60) and the ludicrous (£4143.15, surely that can’t be right?)

Whatever you choose to do to get tickets, it’s good to keep in mind that the only place you’re likely buy or swap tickets at face value is through networking face to face with your fellow fans. Join a local fanclub, if you can! And read up: atU2.com has a very nifty Guide To Buying U2 Tickets.