Finding cheap concert tickets is not easy. These days, it’s hard to find shows for under $50. $30 shows are now almost $50 when you add in fees. In our previous post, we talked about how to see the “all in” prices for shows. Click here to read more about that.
There are three main ways how to find cheap concert tickets:
- Buy from the Venue
- Buy from the Cheapest Reseller
- Wait for Price Drops
- Use a Price Comparison Service
Buy from the Venue
Most of the time, this is the way to find the cheapest tickets. Venues sell their tickets through a “primary” ticket provider. You’re familiar with at least one of these primary ticket providers: Ticketmaster. However, there are a number of other providers venues use to sell their tickets direct to fans. Providers like AXS, Etix, SeeTickets and EventBrite are widely used by venues across the US.
Don’t Fall for Search Engine Traps on Google (or DuckDuckGo)
You can Google (or DuckDuckGo) to find a venue’s website. Be careful you don’t fall for the games some ticket resellers play with search engine optimization and ads. (BTW, there’s nothing wrong with resellers IF a show is sold out, but if it’s not, buying from venue and their primary ticket provider is the cheapest ticket). These resellers trick you into thinking you’ve landed on the official venue page. For example, if you google “Paramount Theatre Seattle”, the top link is the official site. However, the number two link is “paramounttheatreseattle.net”. This is a reseller site; not the the official site. Clicking on this links takes you to a professional looking site run by a ticket reseller that charges far more than the official site for tickets. You can see this in the screenshot below:
Here’s another example, using DuckDuckGo (a Google competitor), if you type “Crystal Ballroom” (a popular concert venue in Portland, Oregon), the top two links are not the official venue site, they are ad links a reseller pays to place their links above the official site:
Buy from the Cheapest Reseller
Sometimes, the venue has sold out of tickets. In this case, your best bet is to buy from the cheapest ticket reseller. There are loads of ticket resellers, but here are a few of the larger ones: SeatGeek, StubHub, Vivid Seats, TicketNetwork and TickPick. They’ve all got great mobile apps that make purchasing easy and seamless. Some include ticket fees at the very end of the purchase process (Vivid Seats) and some include all fees from the beginning (TickPick). Either way, it’s often hard to create an “apples to apples” cost comparison, because most resellers show tickets without the fees and you’ve got to click through multiple pages to see the final price for tickets.
Reseller Fees Turn Cheap Concert Tickets Into No So Cheap
Ticket fees vary wildly between resellers. Fees vary between 15% of the ticket price and upwards of 40%. The problem with fees is there’s no formula to help you know which resellers have higher fees. Additionally, their fee % varies from event to event. Take a look at our previous blog post here to learn how to find tickets with the fees included for most of the resellers we listed above.
Ticket Inventory Varies
For general admission venues and shows, every reseller is selling the same ticket. However, in arena shows with seats, resellers often carry different set of seats. One reseller may have tickets for Section 101, Row B, while another only has Section 102, Row G. You’ll have to decide what kind of view you want and combine that with whether you’re willing to pay the price for the premium section you want to sit in.
Wait for Price Drops
Once an event sells out from the venue/primary ticket provider, prices on the reseller apps often jump to 100-200% above the face value of the ticket. Prices are not static. They go up and down over time. There are times when a ticket on reseller’s site can go up or down nearly 20-30% depending on the day. If these tickets are out of your price range, you can periodically check back to these reseller apps to see if the price hits the price you want to pay. The problem with this approach is that it’s tedious. Very few people have the time to look 3 times a day for weeks on end to see if ticket prices fall (and they often do!).
No Cheap Concert Tickets At the Last Minute
Waiting for prices to drop works, except when you’re at the last minute before the concert starts. If you’ve had your eye on tickets that are too expensive and hoping the seller will drop the price just before the show starts, we have a few words of advice…don’t get your hopes up.
Generally, sellers don’t drop prices the day before the show, because they’re managing large inventories of tickets and are willing to “eat” tickets in order to preserve a profit margin on their ticket inventory. They also don’t want to incentivize people to hope for a last minute bargain on a great ticket. It’s important to remember ticket resellers like SeatGeek, StubHub, etc. do not set the ticket prices. They working with ticket brokers who sell their tickets through these resellers. These brokers often uses computer software to optimize their profit margins (think dynamic pricing) across a large set of tickets. This software does not automatically discount tickets at the last minute.
Of course you can always go down to the venue to see if there are scalpers selling an hour before the show, but who really does that anymore?
Use a Price Comparison Service
You can also save the hassle of finding cheap concert tickets by using a ticket price comparison service. Apps like Bandsintown and JamBase do a great job telling you about upcoming shows and give you a little bit of info on prices. But, they don’t show you ticket prices across multiple resellers. This is why we built TicketJam. We got tired of flipping between 5 different apps and looking up all the official venue sites for tickets. So we built an app to be one place to compare ticket prices and tell us right up front which ticket reseller was the cheapest and if there are still official tickets left. You can download and try on iPhones here. Also, give us any feedback below on what you want to see from a better ticketing app.