Get concert tickets for less
Tickets are harder to get and prices are trending up. Here are seven ways to save on tickets to see Justin Bieber -- or any of your favorite acts -- this summer.
This post comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.
The average price of a Justin Bieber concert ticket just hit a chart-topping $376 on the secondary market. But experts say there are ways to get to see the teen phenom -- and other big summer acts -- for prices that don't resemble airfare.
Due to dwindling sales, musicians increasingly depend on touring as a revenue source, experts say, which has resulted in more big names visiting a wider array of cities. "We're seeing a record number of concert choices for fans," says Mike Janes, co-founder of ticket comparison engine FanSnap. (Post continues below.)
Headliners such as Madonna, Van Halen, Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay and Aerosmith all have tours this summer. There's also a growing number of multi-artist festivals, as well as revival tours by artists including Hall & Oats and The Beach Boys, he says.
Despite the stepped-up touring, getting tickets won't be easy this summer, experts say. Artists have been careful to schedule concerts in step with demand, which means fans won't see the oversupply of previous years that led to two-for-one ticket deals and other big discounts, says Gary Bongiovanni, editor in chief of trade magazine Pollstar, which tracks concert sales data.
Plus, ticket prices are trending higher. For the top 100 North American tours in 2011, the average ticket's face value was $67.22, up 8.9% from 2010, according to Pollstar. That figure is just 11 cents shy of 2008's peak pricing. This year, concertgoers may pay even more for the best seats.
And of course, those prices only apply to those who get face-value tickets at the box office -- no easy feat. "The average fan has a really hard time competing with professional ticket brokers," says Bongiovanni.
It's not uncommon for a show to sell out within a few hours of going on sale, and prices on the secondary market are typically double face value, says Will Flaherty, a spokesman for SeatGeek ticket search engine. "It's rare that you don't see a price uptick," he says.
Seats for Madonna's Sept. 15 concert in Atlantic City, for example, start at $96.85 at the box office (including fees). The average secondary market price, however, is currently $323, according to SeatGeek.
But concertgoers still have some recourse to find cheap tickets, or at the very least, minimize the secondary-market premium. "No show is ever truly sold out," Bongiovanni says.
Join the fan club
Box office prices are still consumers' best bet for cheap tickets, and artists typically award early access to members of their fan clubs and email lists, Flaherty says. Bieber Fever members, for example, could buy tour tickets starting May 23, a full week before sales were open to the public.
But keep in mind that such memberships can carry a fee. Early ticket access was available only to members on a $26.97 quarterly plan, or a $99 annual one.
Use credit card benefits
Pre-sale access is also a common credit-card benefit at with American Express, Chase and Citibank cardholders. Ticket buyers may also be able to sweeten box-office prices by paying with accumulated credit card rewards instead of their own funds.
Citibank announced this week that consumers can use their points to pay for purchases on ticket site Live Nation. Ralph Andretta, the head of co-brands and loyalty for Citibank, says the partnership allows people to use available points for tickets and pay any difference with their card.
Compare secondary-market offers
Although many of the tickets on the secondary market are from professional resellers, there are still plenty from sellers who bought tickets months in advance and then had a change of plans, Janes says. The open market leads to a wide range of asking prices, so it benefits consumers to check multiple resale sites such as StubHub and Razorgator, and use comparison engines such as FanSnap and SeatGeek that show offers from several sites at once.
For the One Direction concert in The Woodlands, Texas, on June 24, that lets shoppers quickly distinguish between a $700 ticket in the front reserved section via Ticketsnow and a $352 one in the same area via Razorgator.
Check in at the box office
Even if a concert is initially sold out, more seats often become available at the box office as the show approaches, Bongiovanni says. Check back often to grab tickets at face value, especially in the last few days. That's when promoters usually give back extra seats that were reserved for the band's guests.
More seats can also become available after the stage is set up. "Oftentimes those are tremendous seats," he says. "You might see 200 of the best seats suddenly appear at the box office." Of course, there's no guarantee, so wait-and-see shoppers are taking a gamble.
Consider a lawn pass
Avid concertgoers may want to look into local venues' so-called lawn passes, which get holders general admission access to the venue's lawn during concerts that year. Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, N.Y., currently charges $399 for a pass, which allows fans into even sold-out shows. This year's lineup includes Dave Matthews Band, Kelly Clarkson & The Fray, Stone Temple Pilots and The New York Philharmonic.
Experts recommend perusing the fine print for restrictions: Some venues limit pass-holders to a set number of shows, or only select shows.
Take a road trip
Prices can often vary widely from city to city, depending on the size of the venue and fan base, Janes says. Fans could see savings, even factoring in the cost of gas or a bus ticket.
Although Justin Bieber's summer tour is in motion, he doesn't hit the northeast until fall. The starting price for tickets in Philadelphia on Nov. 4 is currently $144; for the Nov. 12 show in Brooklyn, they're as little as $88. A two-hour bus ride costs as little as $1 on budget lines such as Megabus and BoltBus. Possible savings: $65 per person.
Buy at the 11th hour
Secondary market prices tend to fall in the last 48 to 72 hours before a show, as sellers get nervous about recouping their investment, Flaherty says. E-tickets and local pickup stations make last-minute purchases relatively low-risk for fans, he says.
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