14 Tips For Getting Burning Man Tickets in the Individual Sale

It seems to get harder every year for Burners to get tickets, so I thought I’d share some of my ideas. These aren’t official, so don’t blame me if you try everything and still don’t get tickets. If it works though, by all means you can send me a cheers!

This year tickets are selling for more than they ever have, and faster than they ever have. We have every reason to think that will continue, making this the biggest Burning Man in history. It jumped the shark, and now it is ready for the big leagues of mainstream success.

Too Many Names On The Guest List

From BMOrg’s point of view, last week’s Directed Group Sale went smoothly. 20,000 invitation-only tickets sold out in less than an hour (according to Megan Miller) and 45 minutes (according to Burners). There were the regular problems of people not having profiles or Ticketfly accounts, and credit cards being declined by their bank’s fraud protection. You’d think, after almost 30 years, banks would know what Burning Man is.

Image: Kristina Alexanderson/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Kristina Alexanderson/Flickr (Creative Commons)

This year, though, a new problem cropped up. People thought getting a code meant they had a ticket set aside for them, and were devastated when the codes didn’t work.

1400 selected groups were given codes to purchase a certain number of tickets. However, some camps report that only 50-60% of their people could actually get the tickets. One camp reported that 25% of the invites did not work – and all the people who couldn’t get the codes to work were outside the US. Was this because Ticketfly can’t process a non-US credit card address?

Burning Man’s response? “We always said it was first-come, first-serve”.

What does that mean? There seem to be only a small range of possibilities:

1. Burning Man sent out more invitations than there were tickets, the way airlines overbook flights.

2. BMOrg sent out 20,000 codes, but each could purchase more than 1 ticket (up until 20,000 were sold)

3. Camps sent out more codes to their campers, than Burning Man actually allocated to them

4. People used”Burner hacks” to buy more tickets with the codes than they were supposed to. For example, 2 people on 2 different computers and credit cards using the same code at the same time. Did the software anticipate such scenarios and block them, or let them through?

Probably, some combination of all of the above happened.

From burningman.com, ePlaya moderator Trilobyte says:

Burning Man does not publish statistics on invitations. There are always more invitations issued than there are tickets available, for a couple reasons. First, they want to help as many camps and projects as possible to get tickets for their core essential team members (as it is, they can’t help everyone). And second, not every camp or project uses every single invitation slot or has every participant purchase the maximum number of tickets.

Whatever the reason for it happening, there is no doubt that many people in camps who got sent codes, thought they would have more than 45 minutes to go to the web site and use them. Last year it took an entire day to sell 15,000.

Burning Man’s ticket page says:

The invitation-only, first-come, first-served Directed Group Sale starts at 12pm (noon) PST, Wednesday, February 4, 2015.

To  most people, if you received an invite to an invitation-only sale, you’d think that would mean you could get tickets. Alas, no – you have to get in quick.

Most Burners who logged in within the first 20 minutes seem to have got tickets. The general wait seemed to be around 6-8 minutes, some reported up to 20 minutes of waiting, some only a few. The countdown clock seems relatively meaningless compared to the time it takes to get into the system.

Coming soon: Tickets for Any Burner

Next up there are 40,000 tickets left to sell in the Individual Sale next Wednesday, February 18th at noon PST.

Last year tickets in the individual sale sold out in about 40 minutes (officially) and about 25 minutes (according to some Burners). You need to get there very close to 12 to get in the queue, everybody who did in the first 7 minutes last year seems like they got tickets.

I expect it to be quicker this year. We’ve never seen this level of promotion before – The Simpsons, Grover Norquist in the political press, Wall Street via the New York Times and Bloomberg, a 747 dominating the EDM press.

Whether you like it or not, Burning Man tickets are a great financial deal for those with no interest in even going to Burning Man. Tickets are $1122 each on Stubhub and Vehicle Passes are $190. For an investment of less than $850, you get yourself a highly liquid asset that can be rapidly transformed into $2500 – and may appreciate further from there. Hedge funds should start collaterizing this shit.

occupy comic shazam

“Mike’s Robot Nightmare”. Image: Occupy Comic Shazam/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Demand conditions have never been so favorable for the vendors – which means harder for Burners.

How can you maximize your chances to get tickets?

1. Create your Burner profile beforehand.

2. Create a Ticketfly account beforehand.

3. Register for the individual sale – opens this Wednesday, Feb 11 at noon. Registration is open for several days, so (theoretically) it doesn’t matter whether you are there right on the dot of 12:00:01.

4. On Feb 18th, the day the sale begins, log in as soon as possible after noon. Getting there before 12:00:00 to be in the queue early didn’t seem to help last year.

5. Instead of going through the web site, if you were emailed a link, click the link in the email, a few seconds after it turns noon.

6. If the link does not work, or the site crashes, don’t be disheartened. Keep trying. Even if it says “no” or “sold out”, try again a few minutes later.

7. Reboot your computer shortly before noon, and don’t have a whole bunch of other browser windows open – this may help avoid technical issues.

8. You could try using a few different browsers, if you have any technical issues. Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer – all seem to work fine.

9. Have the right debit or credit card. They accept only VISA and Mastercard, not Amex. They don’t accept PayPal or Bitcoin.

10. Make sure there is enough money in your account, or credit left on your card.

11. Notify your bank in advance of the transaction, in case it triggers a fraud warning (some Burners have reported this problem).

12. Use a US credit card if you have the luxury of choosing. Some Burners reported problems in earlier sales for overseas buyers

13. Don’t listen to Burners giving you advice on the ticketing system based on their past experiences. Ticketing changed last year to Ticketfly, so the current system is still new. What worked in the past, may have little bearing on your chances to get tickets today.

14. When asked how many times you’ve been to Burning Man, say “0”. Statistically, Virgins are the largest group who get tickets – for the last 3 years, somehow there have consistently been 40% Virgins. Whether this is a pure fluke (3 times in a row and always about the same ratio), or whether the system has been designed that way, the fact is the people who say they have been to Burning Man 0 times are in the group that gets the most tickets every year. Chance favors the Virgin, in this “random” distribution.

Other Ideas

trilobyte says:

Having not only participated in Burning Man for a few years now, but having had the great fortune of going to hundreds and hundreds of concerts, festivals, and events, I can say that for the most part it will always get more and more difficult every year. If the band keeps turning out solid albums, the fanbase continues to grow, then it occasionally explodes with a big hit or two, and it goes from never having trouble getting tickets, to shows selling out, to shows selling out really quickly, then the band needs to start working out pre-sales to ensure that fans have a shot because tickets sell out in hours (or minutes, or seconds). In this case, Burning Man is the band. They’ve been turning out solid albums every year for decades, the fanbase is huge and loyal (there may be a track or two you don’t like, but dammit it’s still a great album :) ), and tickets keep getting harder and harder to come by. Even when it’s a band or performer who takes steps to keep the scalpers at bay, you’ve got to be on the ball.

Sure, the ticket team will continue to work on their end to try and improve upon the experience and the ticket-buying process (as they have since Burning Man started selling tickets), but they can’t make scarcity go away. As long as demand continues to outstrip supply, it’s going to be important to stay on top of the posted information and dates and act quickly when those magic tickets go on sale.

trilobyte has also created his own Ticket Tips.

On Facebook, Burner Scott Sanders said:

The reality is that (in approximate numbers) 12,500 people will click in the first three seconds ( 12:00:03 – locking up all 25,000 tickets) and it’ll take 45 minutes for the computer system to process all the orders while we sit desperately waiting to get in to buy a ticket. About 12:45:01, all the whining and butthurt will start. People will complain that their Am Ex card wouldn’t work ( even though the directions said so), and they’ll blame Larry, or the fucked up system, or they’ll complain the don’t get paid till Friday ( even though they had a year to get their finances in order.). Probably by 1:30:00, the slacker hippies will start asking for free tickets ( because they’re awesome in the universe) since they can’t afford one or be prepared on time. By 2:00, folks will be pleading and begging for a ticket for their Virgin friend ( with a fucked up life) who’s so needs to go home, but doesn’t know it. By 12:00:01, the Scalpers (who don’t exist) will be posting tickets on Stub Hub and Ebay ( but they got their tickets in the Secret VIP sale by paying extra donation money to BMP.

 Matt Nelsen:

remember people the principles are just an ethos now. NOTHING IS UNBURNERY NOW!