When it comes to purchasing tickets for concerts, shows, and other live events, you’ll often hear about tickets being available during the “presale” or “general sale”. But what exactly do those terms mean and how do they differ from each other?
What is a Presale?
A presale is a sale of tickets that takes place before the tickets go on sale to the general public. Presales provide first access to tickets for select groups of people, usually including:
- Fan club members
- Credit card holders
- Spotify subscribers
- Members of the venue’s email list
- Customers of a sponsor company
Presales allow these groups to purchase tickets before everyone else. It gives them the first crack at buying tickets before the general on-sale date.
Presales normally last for anywhere from 24-48 hours. Some presales may be even shorter like 4-8 hours. The length of the presale window can vary depending on the event.
Each presale has a specific promo code that is required to access and shop the presale. Without the proper presale code, you will not be able to purchase tickets during the presale period.
Why Have Presales?
Presales benefit both the event organizers and the ticket buyers. For event organizers, presales help them:
- Build hype and word-of-mouth for an event before tickets officially go on sale
- Reward loyal fans with first access to tickets
- Partner with sponsor companies to drive revenue
For ticket buyers, presales allow you to get tickets before the general public and give you the best chance to get good seats. Popular shows often sell-out very quickly once tickets are available to everyone. Presales let you get ahead of the crowds.
How to Get Presale Codes
There are a few main ways to get access to presale codes:
- Join artist fan clubs – Most musicians and bands have official fan clubs that provide presale code access.
- Sign up for venue email lists – Big venues will offer presales for events happening at their arena or stadium.
- Check tour sponsor sites – Tours are often sponsored by a brand that will host a presale.
- Follow the event pages on social media – Presale codes are sometimes announced on Facebook event pages or Twitter the day before the presale.
Oftentimes, presale codes are emailed out to eligible members of a fan club or venue list 24-48 hours before the presale starts. So it’s important to sign-up for these lists in advance if you want to receive the presale code in time to use it.
What is a General Sale?
The general sale (or public on-sale) is the point at which tickets become available for purchase to the general public. This happens after any presales take place for an event.
For popular concerts, the general on-sale date and time are usually announced weeks in advance. Then once that public on-sale date arrives, tickets are released for everyone to purchase on a first-come, first-served basis.
When is the General Sale Date?
The general on-sale date varies by event. Here are some typical examples:
- For concert tours, the general on-sale usually happens 2-4 weeks before the first show kicks off the tour.
- For single events like a one-off concert or comedy show, tickets may go on sale 4-8 weeks in advance.
- For high demand events like playoffs or championships, tickets may not be released to the public until 1-2 weeks before the event.
Promoters strategically decide when to announce an on-sale date based on the expected demand. Give people more time to plan for highly anticipated events. Limit the window for ultra high-demand events to discourage resellers.
Tips for General Ticket Sales
Here are some helpful tips for tackling the general ticket sale:
- Get online early – Be ready and waiting on the ticket site before the published on-sale time.
- Use multiple devices – Try on your computer plus mobile devices to increase your chances.
- Pick best seats first – Don’t waste time waffling over seat options or you could lose them.
- Have accounts set up in advance – Create accounts on ticket vendor sites so you can checkout faster.
- Don’t give up right away – Keep trying if tickets sell-out quickly, more inventory may be released.
Persistence and speed are the keys to scoring tickets during an on-sale rush. The faster you can submit ticket requests and complete orders, the better your odds of getting seats before they sell out.
Presale vs General Sale: Key Differences
While presales and general sales both offer opportunities to purchase event tickets, there are some key differences between these phases:
|Happens before public on-sale date
|Starts on public on-sale date
|Restricted to select groups
|Open to the entire general public
|Requires special presale code
|Does not require a code
|Allows early ticket access
|First come, first served tickets
|Usually lasts 24-48 hours
|Lasts until tickets sell out
|Lower ticket demand
|High ticket demand
In summary, presales offer exclusive early access to tickets for certain groups ahead of the general public on-sale. General sales are open free-for-alls when tickets are released to the entire public.
Should You Buy Presale or General Sale?
So when should you aim to purchase tickets, during the presale or general sale? Here are some things to consider:
- Presale Pros: Less competition for tickets. Good for “hot” events to secure seats.
- Presale Cons: Need special codes. Limited inventory released.
- General Sale Pros: No codes needed. All remaining tickets available.
- General Sale Cons: High competition. Sells out quickly.
In most cases, the presale provides the best opportunity to easily purchase tickets. But you need to make sure you have access to the appropriate presale code.
However, if you don’t have a presale code, the general sale is your next shot. It’s more difficult with the high demand, but you might still be able to score tickets if you’re strategic.
Ultimately it comes down to this tradeoff between getting early ticket access versus having the entire ticket inventory available to you. But having both presale code options and plans for the general sale will give you the greatest chance at getting the tickets you want.
Should You Pay More Than Face Value?
If you strike out getting tickets through both the presale and general sale, you may start to consider paying above face value by buying from a ticket reseller or scalper. There are a few factors to weigh here:
- How badly do you want to attend the event? Is it worth spending extra?
- How much over face value are the tickets being resold for? Double or triple the price?
- Are you comfortable buying resale tickets from potentially sketchy sources?
Ultimately it’s a personal decision on how much the event experience is worth to you. But always be cautious of scams and fake tickets when buying from resellers.
Be Patient and Persistent
If you aren’t able to buy tickets right away during the presale or on-sale, don’t fret. Here are some tips for getting tickets later:
- More presale codes sometimes surface so keep hunting.
- Venues often hold back tickets to release later.
- Watch for pre-sale waitlists you can sign up on.
- People return and resell tickets as plans change.
So if you’re diligent and patient, there are still ways to score tickets even if the initial sales don’t go your way.
Presales and general sales provide different benefits and challenges when it comes to purchasing event tickets. Presales offer exclusive early access before the general public for a specific group of buyers. General sales are open free-for-alls for the entire public.
Your best bet is to target both presale and general on-sale dates for an event you want to attend. Have presale codes ready to go and be prepared for competitive general sales. With smart planning and persistence, you can maximize your chances to get the tickets you want!