The two cheapest concert tickets, at least in theory, are the very first and the very last to be purchased. The ticket-buyer who jumps the line and the ticket-buyer who waits until the last minute stand to benefit the most. In this bit of ValuePenguin research, we're going to focus on the former consumer.
The question then is a simple one. How can you be the first to know when your favorite band is playing near you?
There are several strategies to be alerted to these shows, and each takes just a little bit of legwork online. There could be significant savings — and good times — in it for you.
Go with Songkick
The London-based startup, which sprang up out of concern that scalpers were taking over Ticketmaster, is your go-to resource. Upon signing up for an account, you can import your favorite artists from one of three places: Spotify, Facebook and last.fm. This allows the site's "Concerts" page to immediately pull in your preferred bands' tour dates and locations. You can also track the bands' tour by including other cities you wouldn't mind traveling to for a show, or cities you know you're going to be visiting anyway.
Once you select a show, a nifty progress bar indicates the sale date, the event date and how "hot" the sale is — in other words, whether there should be a rush on your part to make a purchase.
For the most passive users among us, sign up for one or more of six email alerts, which will deliver the news of a highly sought-after concert dates that haven't yet been listed.
Sign up for Alerts
The oft-maligned TicketMaster, a competitor of Songkick's, offers alerts for venues, performers and tickets but without a simple user interface or easy importation of your favorite music.
There are other ways to cover your bases. Sign up for digest emails from the venues near you. Sometimes even smaller halls will advertise their listings months in advance and initally only via email. More likely, they will alert you to end-of-week on-sales.
As long as your inbox is open for business, become a member of your favorite band's fan club, or at least sign up for their newsletter. Artist presales are not going anywhere; in addition to a platform like Songkick, they allow the musicians to make sure their tickets end up directly in the hands of their own fans, not ticket brokers looking to make a buck.
If you're a social media user, leverage it. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like also allow you to follow artists and venues. These are not as immediately useful as email alerts — you'd still have to visit an artist's page or keep an a close eye on your feed — but it's another tool in your toolbox.
If you're not going to be the first to know, be the second: One of your more proactive friends may share a status update with news of a show coming to town.
Be on Time
This one's pretty simple. Once you've done the advance work of knowing when a sale starts, make sure to log on punctually. The way ticket-selling sites are designed these days, you'll have your shot at one purchase before falling to the end of the line.
Check Your Rewards
Unbeknownst you, you may already have initial access to concerts thanks to something already in your back pocket. Some credit cards, namely American Express cards and the Citi Private Pass, alert their members to pre-publicly available sales for shows, typically at bigger venues. (If you've ever wondered why many tickets are sold before you and your Visa membership log on, now you know why.)
Don't have a presale code? Find it the old-fashioned way, the way you might find a promo code for free shipping at e-commerce sites. Google it.
If You Bought too Soon...
So you applied these strategies and were the first one at the digital box office? Congrats!
But what if your plans change, something came up and you can no longer attend? Buying tickets weeks or months in advance does come with this risk. Just remember that there are plenty of secondary marketplaces online. In fact, here's how to turn your extra event stubs into a profit in 10 simple steps.