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Not With The Band: It's A War, A Bot War And We Are Losing It

TicketMaster Spinner Bot


Anyone of you who has bought a concert ticket has experienced it, you are in front of your computer at the time the tickets go on sale,… and it’s instantaneously sold out, you don’t have the time to do anything, you refresh and refresh the Ticketmaster page, and each time you have to retype a blurred text into that annoying Captcha verification, but at the end, no ticket comes up. You don’t see necessarily a sold out sign, but the depressing statement: ‘No tickets available right now… sometimes tickets from the venue may become available closer to the event.’ Yeah, right! But it is actually true… sometimes. At two occasions, I got tickets by trying again two nights before the events, once for a supposedly sold out Beck concert at the El Rey, another time for a sold out Nick Cave concert at the Fonda… But why is Ticketmaster doing that? You would think that once all the tickets have been sold, it’s over? However, they don’t release all the tickets at once, and sometimes, they don’t even release the best ones first! Still I was very lucky these two times, because it doesn’t happen very often,… most of the time, for the very hot hot shows, I stay empty handed, ticketless and angry. You have to know that, when you are buying a ticket concert, you are in war against the robots, the bots to be exact, or some computer programs which automate the process every minute? Every second? I am not sure. Each time, I have the impression to be beaten by some incredibly fast computer, which is able to buy 100 tickets faster than I can reload my page. How many times I have been redirected to a ‘virtual waiting room’, to be told a few minutes later that no tickets were available? But I was online, at the right time, why was I redirected in this waiting room? It’s like some more powerful force was blocking my way to the check out section! And it is even more frustrating when you see all these resellers reselling tons of tickets of the concert in the following hours…. They were able to buy hundreds of them when you weren’t able to buy one.

A spoke person for Ticketmaster declared a year ago: ‘Attempts are made during every busy on sale to purchase tickets unfairly using bots. This is an arms race between the technology companies like us and the individuals who create bots. These people are continually innovating and refining bots to make them harder to identify.’… ‘Ticketmaster is committed to investing in technology that thwarts these bots and we will continue to work hard to ensure that tickets go directly into the hands of genuine fans.’

I don’t believe this for a minute, what difference does it make for Ticketmaster? They are selling their tickets and they don’t care who is buying them… According to Newstatesman, bots are thought to account for 90 % of traffic to the Ticketmaster website in the US! 90%? No wonder, I have a problem every time I want to buy a ticket… and I am not even buying tickets for the most popular acts, like Beyonce, Jay Z, Rihanna.

But just take a look at all these ads posted on websites like Freelancer, asking for people who can create bots:

‘Hi! I am looking for somebody that can create a software (based on cloud technology) that can grab tickets from and If you are interested, please send me a message and I will give you more details. Thank you for your time’

‘for a program that will automatically search for tickets to events on,live,… etc… the moment they go on sale. I need the program to solve CAPTCHA screens with 75-100%…number of tickets (either 2 or 4) and have the program provide a single screen with a list of tickets

There are a lot of these ads, and people obviously pay good money for these bots! How come these people are able to do this in plain light? Is this legal? No it is not. You can even buy your own bot, just look at these software found on

This one ‘allows you to reserve multiple tickets from multiple threads and from multiple events with just a click of a mouse and then allow you to buy the BEST ones with one more click. The bot can be customized to meet your exact needs as well’, and just for $750, a real bargain… this other one ‘allows you to reserve multiple tickets, you can do multiple searches simultaneously on one event or multiple events with just a click of a mouse. You can use it for drop checks as well as set them for presales and on sale events. It also has an option to allow you to set the bot to start at a specific time, while you are not there and the software will start at a time and grab the tickets and notify you, if the tickets match your criteria. The bot can be customized to meet your exact needs as well,’ just for $990. I checked a video on YouTube affiliated with ticketbot website, and they are probably all in India considering the accent of the guy, which may explain a lot of things.

These bots are superior to human beings, they will repeat almost indefinitely the search until they grab the good seats, because how long do you generally continue to search when Ticketmaster tells you there are no tickets? I have sometimes tried for 20-30 minutes, and gave up thinking I was losing my time, but who knows? May be I could have gotten a ticket if I had pursued a bit? I have no time, but bots have all the time, and that’s another problem.

Will a time come when it is totally impossible to buy a ticket online? Are the bots gonna finally take over one day? Ticketmaster says they are working on the problem, but whatever they are doing is not enough! Will I have to buy my own bot one day? But rich people will have a better bot then mine, and we’ll go back to the beginning…

It’s time to react and revolt! And only artists who care about their fans can do it. Country star Eric Church has just demonstrated it was possible, According to USA Today, he is simply using paperless tickets for his current tour, which require a photo identification and the purchasing credit card to get into a concert, and he is allowing no more than eight tickets per household for each show and a zero-tolerance policy on purchasers transferring tickets to a different name… Now I can imagine it’s gonna be very long to enter this arena, but I am for it! Church has compared the people that are scalping tickets to ‘the equivalent of crime rings basically’: ‘They’re buying 1,000 tickets and turning it into a criminal business. It’s no different than the Mafia.’

However, I was still able to find some Eric Church tickets on Stubhub! So I don’t think it works at 100 %, because of some stupid law, which eliminated paperless tickets in New York. But at least he is trying, as other artists have, it is just depressing to think that scalper-bots can win this war.

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