Many people asked me over the holidays how they can get gig tickets at great prices. Mostly, people want to know what tricks and tips they can employ to get hot tickets. After being asked the same questions several times I decided to post this so everyone can get access to great shows at great prices.
The first thing you need to know is that supply is often more constrained then you think. Most concerts have pre-sales, VIP tickets and artist holds that I described in a previous post – all of which conspire to reduce capacity. Promoters and artists have a financial interest in ticket supply being opaque.
If a show is less hot then it’s supposed to be opacity serves to cloud the lack of demand. If shows are very hot then promoters can shift supply to higher margin channels without the public being aware of this. We think it would be good practice for the industry to publish ticket manifests when a show goes on-sale so everyone can see how many tickets are for sale and who is getting them. Ticket News ran a piece several years ago that explains this very well.
If the promoters and artists are working to make it difficult to get tickets, how do you go about getting them?
1. Get informed. This may be table-stakes for most music fans but you have to know when your favourites are going to tour. There are several ways to make sure you have the information you need to be successful. The first is fan clubs. Go to the website for the band’s fan club and sign up for their newsletters. This is very easy to do and just a search away from getting you signed up. This way you will know if the bands you love are about to tour and you can get ready to take action.
2. Ticketing websites have general mailing lists but unless you can get notification for a single artist, like Seatwave’s Gig Alert feature - you’ll be wasting your time trolling through long emails trying to find your performer of choice. Fan clubs can generally tell you about pre-sales as well so you can get a head start. Note: **Pre-sales tend to offer harder-to-shift tickets in top tiers or at the rear of higher price bands so be aware of what’s on offer if you do get into a pre-sale. In many cases it’s may be better to secure some tickets early as you can always trade-up using the secondary market later if you wish.
3. There are also websites like Gettothefront which offer a feed of information on new on-sales and tours. These are aggregated so again you will have to parse through it but they provide a very timely source of information on new tours coming on-sale.
4. Depending on where the show is and where you live, there may be multiple ticketing websites offering primary tickets for concerts. In the UK the market is very fragmented and no less than half-dozen websites may offer tickets at the cover price (plus booking fee) on the day of on-sale. Ticketmaster UK may be sold out of tickets while there may still be tickets on sale at smaller ticket-ers like Ticketzone, Gigantic or Stargreen. Try them first as you might be able to get some that way. Make sure you know all the outlets selling before you decide where to try to buy.
If you’ve tried to get tickets in the on-sale and been unsuccessful and you then choose to use the secondary market remember that prices are their highest on the day tickets go on sale. There is more demand in the market on the first day of sales which equates to higher prices. From the first day of sale to the date of performance prices will come down in a linear fashion. Use the pricing charts on Seatwave to see what the trend is for your desired shows.
5. Here’s the secret, if you can keep your powder dry and wait until the day before or day of performance, you can get yourself a great deal. Seatwave’s CollectFrom service allows buyers to pick up tickets on the day of the performance at the designated location. Because sellers know that the tickets are worth zero the day after the show the market will clear and price will reach the optimal point to meet the demand. In other words, tickets get cheaper. Day-of sales in 2012 saw Rolling Stones tickets less than 50% of face value, Lady GaGa and Watch The Throne tickets for under £20. These are great deals and they were had by patient shoppers who were willing to take the risk on where they sat in order to get the best prices.
6. Finally, make sure the site you are using allows you to set a price alert so you know when the ticket prices reach your sweet spot. Once they do you can step in an snap them up. Then you’re off to your favourite show at the best possible price in the market.