K-Pop Ticketing: A Survival Guide
With both GOT7 and Wanna One embarking on world tours this summer and the just announced news of another BTS world tour this fall, it’s no secret that fans’ nerves are running high. All over social media, fans have been fretting at the possibility of never seeing their faves in person. K-Pop is known for its wildly devoted fanbases and this is no different when it comes to ticketing for concerts as people will go to any lengths (and price point) to score the chance to see their ultimate bias group live. But before you can rejoice in the feeling of getting to see your favorite artist with your own two eyes, you first need to survive the bloodbath that is buying tickets. While K-Pop has always been infamous for its rough ticketing, things are only looking to get even tougher with the rise in popularity of the genre worldwide. With the Hallyu Wave picking up more and more fans by the second, it’s easy to think that nabbing tickets to your dream concert is a lost cause, but fear not! With proper planning and a good internet connection, you too can survive the Ticketing Hunger Games!
(Please be aware that I am from the U.S. so while a lot of this information is applicable to most countries, some of the specifics are based on my own experiences as a U.S. fan!)
Step 1: Get Connected
Chances are if you’re reading this article, you’re probably already pretty up-to-date with your favorite groups. You’ve been waiting for the announcement of a world tour with bated breath, mentally preparing for the moment the dates and locations drop. Finally, that fateful tweet is posted and you can feel your soul leave your body and your money leave your bank account. But then what? First off, follow the concert promoter on social media! While the artist or their entertainment company will give out the larger details of the tour, it’s most likely that the individual promoters will handle the finer details such as ticketing dates and prices. Groups like SubKulture Entertainment and POWERHOUSE in the U.S. update their Twitters and other social media regularly. Before ticketing even happens, you want to make sure you’re in the know and there’s no better way than to follow the promoter hosting the concert in your country (bonus points if you turn on their notifications!).
Step 2: Plan Accordingly
Once you’ve got that social media connection on lock, keep an eye out for ticketing information! Promoters will notify fans when and where to buy tickets, usually providing a link to a website and an exact date and time for when tickets go on sale (if you’re in countries with multiple time zones, be sure to double-check your times as most tickets are released at the venue’s local time!). While it depends on your country and the promoters through which your artists work, most ticketing websites will allow you to create an account and save your information beforehand. Doing this before the actual ticketing day is highly recommended—you don’t want to have just scored your dream tickets only to realize you can’t find your credit card! Also, be sure to check out if the ticket provider has a mobile app too—this will come in handy later.
After you’ve set up your account, go ahead and research the venue. If the promoter doesn’t provide a specific seating chart, you can always find a general one on the venue website to get a rough idea of the setup. Pick out your ideal seats! For websites like TicketMaster in the U.S., available tickets pop up at random and are time-sensitive, leaving you with only minutes to accept or reject tickets. You don’t want to panic and pass up good tickets or even worse, lose them because you didn’t act fast enough! Go in knowing what you want. Looking for a specific view? Study the seating chart and get a section number or two in mind so you don’t have to waste time staring at the seating chart the day of. Always make sure to have a second and third choice. Also, while most promoters will advertise ticket tiers as P1, P2, P3, etc., ticketing websites typically will not so try to memorize the prices for tiers. This way, when a ticket pops up, you already know how good it is and roughly where it’s located just by looking at the price!
Step 3: Communicate!
As the fated day approaches, keep an eye on social media! In addition to keeping up with the promoters, be sure to track the appropriate social media tags for your concert. With K-Pop having such a prominent presence on social media nowadays, almost every tour will include an official hashtag. Have a question but don’t know who or where to ask? It’s likely that someone else has already found an answer for you. Still can’t find your answer? Feel free to contact the promoter or venue yourself! You want to go into ticketing knowing all you possibly can, and who better to ask than the people running the show? Just be sure to be as polite, patient, and understanding as possible: these people have probably received dozens, if not hundreds, of similar questions and the person you’re speaking to on the phone likely has little to no authority over any rules or restrictions. We know how much you want to see your favorite group in concert, but never forget that as a fan, you are the face of your artist so be sure to leave a good impression!
Attending the concert with a friend? Make sure you communicate! You want to be sure you have the same goals in mind when it comes to seating and prices. Dead set on getting GA tickets so you can get up close and personal with your ultimate bias? Make sure your friends are willing to stand. (On the flipside, don’t be like me and assume that your friend won’t want to stand for a whole concert so you pass up good GA tickets only to find out she would have been okay with it.)
For anyone planning to attend the concert with more than one friend, consider splitting up to buy tickets. Trying to purchase one or two tickets will be much easier than trying to find five or six. If you’re going in a larger group, try purchasing your own ticket first and then (if your budget allows) attempting to buy a separate ticket for a friend and have them reimburse you later.
Step 4: Make Sure You Have Good WiFi
The day has come. You’ve researched everything you can. You’ve saved up for months, ready to throw your money at your favorite group. You can see your dream seats in your mind’s eye. But what good does it do if you don’t have a stable and secure WiFi connection? Consider that hundreds of people are going to be flooding the same website at the exact same moment. You want to be sure you get through! You also want to be sure that your connection doesn’t time out the second you’ve grabbed good seats. Try to plan to be in a place with fewer people. If you’re at home, consider politely asking your family or roommates to not use the WiFi for the half hour or so it will take you to buy tickets. The faster the internet, the better your chances at getting through!
On top of making sure you have a great connection, try using several devices. If you’re already using your laptop, consider also using your phone and the ticketing site’s mobile app that you already downloaded back in Step 1 of this guide. Although you’re accessing the same website, the connections between devices may differ so while your computer may be endlessly searching for available tickets, your phone may have some pop up right away! Additionally, you can also recruit others to help you buy tickets, whether it be friends or family. If you trust them, you can have them log in through your account or they can even set up their own. While you might not be able to get through, your friend might have better luck. Just make sure they also know what tickets you’re aiming for!
So you’re in the process of ticket-buying and suddenly, your ideal ticket pops up on the screen. It’s P1, GA, with a guaranteed hi-touch. It’s perfect. You confirm all your payment details and click purchase. That’s it, right? Wrong! You want to be sure you receive a confirmation email from the ticketing website. Regardless of how much preparation you do beforehand, technology is not infallible. But once you’ve received a receipt, you can breathe easy...or as easy as you can knowing you’ve just snagged tickets to your dream concert!
Step 5: Don’t Give Up!
“There are no more tickets available.” After days, maybe months, of planning, this dreaded message pops up. It’s been 20 minutes and you’ve been refreshing the page like mad but to no avail. You’ve done all you can, you’ve worked so hard, and yet, you still weren’t able to get tickets. But don’t worry! Even when the situation seems bleak, there are always options.
Keep in mind that hundreds of people will all be accessing the same website, looking for the best tickets, at the exact same time. People will not always keep the first tickets that pop up on their screen and so while it may look like the concert is sold out at first, it’s likely that many tickets—and sometimes very good tickets—will be re-released after people do not claim them. Personally speaking, I scored two P1 tickets to BTS’s The Wings Tour in Chicago only after a solid half hour of absolutely nothing. Things may seem hopeless, but you just need to keep trying because you never know what may happen.
Something else to keep in mind is that buying tickets online may not be the only way to get them. Some promoters may allow you to call and order tickets over the phone. In a day and age where the internet reigns supreme, you might actually have better luck getting through a phone line.
Still unable to get any tickets? While it’s definitely a last resort, you can always check re-selling websites such as StubHub, but beware as these tickets are usually sold at inflated prices by third parties (an unfortunate problem that many promoters have tried to rectify). Another approach is to go back to your concert tags on social media. Sometimes life happens and a person has to sell tickets and if they’re a respectable fan, chances are you won’t end up having to pay anything over the original price. Facebook, in particular, is known for having groups entirely dedicated to specific concert stops and this makes it super easy to organize ticket transfers! However, if you use this route, just be sure that the person selling is legitimate by requesting proof of the tickets before sharing any payment information.
Step 6: Celebrate!
Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a ticket to the concert of your dreams. All that’s left is to plan that concert outfit, save up for merch, organize that roadtrip playlist, put batteries in your lightstick, memorize those fanchants...okay, so there’s still a lot to do. But you can rest easy knowing you’ve survived the hardest part of what’s sure to be one of the most unforgettable experiences in your life.