Editor’s Note: Some of the names in this story have been changed to protect these students’ identities.
As Austin’s biggest music event of the year kicks off this weekend, students find themselves scrambling for the limited selection of tickets still remaining on the Austin City Limits website. Some students have found a way around that rat race, using their bargain-hunting skills to snag tickets from scalpers.
Advertising senior Ari Gootnick said his preference for buying scalped festival tickets is to use social media.
“I’ll usually use Craigslist or Facebook to find tickets because that’s where you can usually find students selling their tickets,” Gootnick said. “I like to buy from students when I can because they’re usually just trying to get rid of a friend’s ticket for close to or at face value.”
Although Gootnick prefers buying tickets from peers met online, he said he’s bought his fair share of tickets outside of the festival in the past. He said the key for dealing with scalpers in person is to be ready to negotiate.
“You need to be aggressive and stand your ground,” Gootnick said. “I always ask for a lower price than I’m willing to pay because they’ll always ask for a higher one, so hopefully we can meet somewhere in the middle. You also need to know when to walk away if they’re not showing interest in negotiating to get their attention and show them you mean business.”
Business junior Matthew Mara said he actually prefers to look for tickets outside the festival because that’s where some of the most unexpected deals can be found.
“Last year I would show up to Zilker later in the afternoon every day, and there would be people leaving early who just gave me their wristbands for free,” Mara said. “Waiting until later in the day to get your tickets is always the cheapest way to go, but you’ll obviously see fewer performers.”
Mara also has experience on the other side of the scalping process. He said when he scalped tickets outside of the festival, he never had trouble turning a profit.
“There’s always plenty of people outside the festival with a lot of money to throw around who are totally oblivious of how to negotiate,” Mara said.
Mara said turning a quick profit isn’t his only reason for scalping tickets.
“Aside from making a little extra money, scalping tickets has just become a fun thing to do for me,” Mara said. “It’s fun to just hang out down there and people watch, and it becomes even more fun when you start competing with other scalpers for people’s business.”
Economics junior Chris Levonyak said that finding tickets before the festival is never difficult, but people should still be cautious when doing so.
“You’ve just got to be aware of what you’re buying,” Levonyak said. “Some of the wristbands being sold are fake or stolen, and some are just taped or glued back together. It’s really on you to make sure that you’re not getting screwed over.”
Levonyak said the best way for people to ensure the passes they’re purchasing are real is to ask the scalpers to let them register the wristbands on their phones before actually paying them.
For people who are not interested in spending more than face value, UT alumnus Zach Beasley said there is a subreddit where people sell wristbands at no more than face value.
“I used that for the first time this year, and the most difficult part is just building enough trust between you and the stranger you met on Reddit,” Beasley said. “We swapped Facebook accounts and just kind of made a judgment call that we both looked real enough for the transaction, and thankfully it worked.”