You’re online, ready to buy concert tickets the second they go on sale, and then … they’re sold out. Were you beaten by a ticket bot? Here’s what you need to know.

What are ticket bots?

They’re computer programs that quickly buy up the best seats so the tickets can be resold elsewhere for more money.

The Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016 makes it illegal to use computer software like ticket bots to game the ticket system for public concerts, theater performances, sporting events, and similar events at venues that seat over 200.

Are ticket bots the only reason I can’t get tickets?

No. Some tickets might have already been sold in pre-sales or held for industry insiders. It also might just be that demand was high, and tickets sold out quickly.

So how do I increase my chances of getting tickets to a big event?

  • Get in on a pre-sale. Join the fan club for your favorite artists, look into season ticket opportunities, and check with your credit card company about promotions. Also sign up for newsletters or alerts from ticket sellers, artists, or venues, or follow them on social media. Just keep in mind that clubs and memberships might involve extra costs.
  • Look for tips on the ticket seller’s site. For example, Ticketmaster warns that using multiple browser windows or refreshing your screen at lightning speed could get you flagged as a bot so you can’t buy tickets. But using multiple devices or refreshing every two to three seconds is usually fine and might help you get tickets.
  • Set up an account and get familiar with a ticket seller’s site ahead of time. That way your information is already loaded and ready to go as soon as tickets go on sale, and you know what to expect in the process.
  • Check back. Shows might be added, or more tickets might be made available after the initial release.