‘So you couldn’t buy gig tickets from the comfort of your own home?’ – The Origins of Ticket Sales


I think post-COVID, post-HSLOT and Taylor Swift’s Eras tour fanatics can agree that live culture has turned a corner towards insanity around tickets and queuing, so much so that PRYZM/Banquet Records issues a clear statement around the recent Louis Tomlinson shows at their venue. This begs the question – Has it always been like this? Are we collectively forgetting the culture pre-COVID? Or was it just entirely different? More specifically though, what was going on with queuing and ticket purchasing in the 80’s?

From stories I’ve heard and anecdotes from family, I’d say the queuing-for-gigs culture in 2022 is pretty reminiscent of in-person ticket buying culture in the 80’s. Newspapers would announce a tour or a gig local to an area and then very swiftly after, box offices would open at 10am on the day of release. But the sheer dedication of fans to purchase tickets meant that the gig queuing culture we see now is pretty well mirrored by the purchasing culture back then. Tents would line the streets in the day or even days before – depending on the act coming to town – just to ensure that they got those coveted tickets.

This is culture that continued right through to the last few years, until COVID forced an entirely online form of ticket purchase. However, online ticket purchase wasn’t uncommon in the 1980’s either. Ticketmaster started to find its feet in Los Angeles in 1982 when it started making hardware for online ticket purchase, securing deals with venues like the LA Forum in order to trump its physical box office opponents. Yes, they did also have physical offices but the 1980’s saw the beginnings of the internet-mad crazy of purchasing tickets to your favourite artists. So, in answer to the article title, Ticketmaster began the revolution to bring the sales online, but of course, it took over 40 years for box offices in their physical form to become the almost redundant state they now are.

In reflection, I think it’s interesting to go back to the 80’s and look at the way the live culture in the modern day has been moulded and shaped. I, for one, didn’t realise how crazy things would have been back then, all of the ticket mania and the controversy and anger seems to be so strongly internet and TikTok-fuelled. But, I guess, in a post Beatlemania world, the fanaticism isn’t a huge surprise. The big artists of the 1980’s definitely caused a lot of high-stakes panic over getting their tickets and seeing them live. So yes, there’s definitely an escalation in queuing culture in the modern day for gigs themselves, but seeing as the ticket selling has moved online, and doesn’t REALLY feel like queuing (until Eras tour presale…) its completely justified that the queue culture for simply buying tickets is a beast we will never experience. What do you think? Would you rather a scary algorithm and AI be your ticket process, or wait in the cold and rain for hours?

Personally, neither sound appealing… but here I am, waiting for the war that will be Sabrina Carpenter UK Tour tickets (for those of you also the children of the Sabrina-Joshua divorce… I hope the battle for Josh tickets went in your favour)


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Third Year history student - Deputy Editor and Live Editor

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