No, Really, You Can Score Concert Tickets on the Cheap

Wanna see Springsteen, Beyonce or the Stone Roses reunion this summer?

You’ll need help.

You’re literally fighting a war against robots here, as well as unscrupulous individuals and corporations. Thanks to ticket bots, shifty scalpers (many unlicensed) and even the artists themselves, you’re likely to see a “no seats available” message within a second after tix go on sale.

Just last month, New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman released a report calling ticketing “a fixed game.” Ticketmaster (and Live Nation, which owns TM) was, of course, a listed enemy, but Schneiderman also called out resellers like StubHub for “speculative ticket listings” (advertising tickets they did not yet have) as well as artist “holds” (in which performers and managers set aside up to 54% of general ticket sales for sponsors and targeted presales).

All ways to make sure you either A) don’t get to attend or B) pay a significant markup to do so.

Good news: as someone who’s seen more than 1,500 shows in dozens of different states and multiple countries, I’ve pick up a few hacks for improving my odds.

Use Stubhub … at the last second

A simple but effective hack: wait until just before the event starts, and watch as panicked sellers drop remaining inventory for concerts to at-cost (or below-cost) prices. The downside? If you wait, it’s harder to get seated tickets where you want, and even more difficult to find tickets for large groups.

Scour pre-sales

If you need to use Ticketmaster, you’ll notice a number of different pre-sales for larger concerts: one based on your credit card of choice (AmEx in particular), one for fan club members and others set aside local promoters/sponsors/media sites (e.g., a blog like BrooklynVegan may have a pre-sale code on their site). Download apps like Songkick and Bandsintown for advance alerts on when your favorite bands are coming to town.


Join a subscription service

The “Netflix of concerts,” Jukely has reserved guest lists, discounts and exclusive tickets to shows in 15 cities across the country for a monthly $25 subscription fee. For the most part, these are smaller bands, but it’s a good way to check out up-and-comers (and see some exclusive shows). And, unlike some other services, it just launched on Android.

Download the venue or promoter’s app

Here in New York, using apps for the likes of Bowery Presents and Live Nation will give you access to exclusive pre-sales, which are usually an easier way to snap up tickets.

Check out your streaming services

Pandora just purchased Ticketfly, promising they’ll start selling tickets to live events. In the “Browse” section of Spotify you’ll notice upcoming concerts and links (via Songkick) to purchase tickets — not great for beating scalpers, but good for advance warning. And Tidal has offered exclusive tickets to shows available only available to subscribers, a move that’s been around since the MySpace days … and about to get more common.


Use the services against each other

Like a Kayak for concert tix, SeatGeek compares tickets on the secondary market, offering a color-coded “Deal Score” rating each seller’s price (red = awful, green = amazing). More recently, SG started allowing users to digitally trade tickets with anyone else on the app, as well as list unwanted tickets for reselling. The bad news? StubHub pulled their listings, so SeatGeek is only working with lesser-known companies like FanXchange and Uberseat.

Another site, TickPick, “grades” potential ticket offers while offering zero-fee tickets, allowing users to proactively solicit bids from sellers.

And that, my friends, should be music to your ears.

Main image of Twin Shadow by Sam Gehrke Photography