The odd secret to getting cheap concert tickets this summer

plus frugal LeBron + an albino tortoise
͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ 
Money
June 8, 2022 • Issue #146
Dollar Scholar
Hi y’all —

Summer is officially here, and you know what that means: concerts!

…OK, you caught me. Obviously I go to concerts all year round. Weather is irrelevant — I’ve seen the Jonas Brothers like 30 times, and I’d still travel to a freezing tundra just for the chance to hear my favorite songs live. To me, there’s no better feeling than standing in a crowd, drink in hand, scream-singing my heart out.

If only it wasn’t so expensive.

The ticket market these days is, to put it lightly, a disaster. Remember a few years ago when Hamilton ticket scalping was a big story? Well, I’d argue the situation is even worse now. Service fees are killer, Ticketmaster seems perpetually broken, and scammers are out in force. At the same time, activity is through the roof: StubHub’s Adam Budelli told me that summer 2022 “may be the busiest concert season on record,” with more than double the shows from this time in 2019.

It’s like the Fangirl Hunger Games out here, and I need an advantage to win. So let’s investigate. What’s the cheapest — and safest — way to buy tickets online?

Brett Goldberg, the cofounder of TickPick, says step one is to always check the box office first. This is my best bet at purchasing a ticket at face value before it gets resold.

Different artists at different levels of fame command different prices at different venues, so there’s a lot of variety here. But, generally, the hotter the show, the more important it is that I start with a primary seller (like the box office or Ticketmaster).

It’s basic supply and demand: When tickets become harder to get, they get more expensive on resale sites. If I can sidestep that whole process by scoring a face-value ticket directly from the seller, I should.

If the show’s sold out or I’m not seeing anything like, Goldberg recommends I pivot to secondary marketplaces. These are websites like StubHub, Vivid Seats and TickPick that allow fans who bought tickets but can’t go — as well as brokers who bought tickets solely to make a buck — to resell their seats. The main perk of using a marketplace is the customer service; for example, StubHub guarantees that orders are 100% valid or I’ll get my money back.
i wonder what it’s like to be a normal person who doesn’t spend all their money on concert tickets
Alas, the main drawback is that sellers can set their prices as high as they want. That’s where I need to employ some strategy.

Often, this means buying a resale ticket as soon as they sell out on the primary marketplace. Sometimes, “there’s a small window of time” in which resale prices will be close to face value because no premium has really developed yet, Goldberg adds. But if I “end up waiting five, six hours, the market starts to find that price” — and prices rise.

Though Budelli says every event has its own unique life cycle, there are still ways to score deals. He suggests keeping an eye on prices as the show gets closer and buying when I sense a lull in interest (right now is probably the time to look for tickets to August and September concerts, for example).

Playing with the number of tickets I’m looking for can help, too.

“We’re all convinced we want to go with 10 people, but single tickets are typically cheapest — or two or three,” Budelli says. “Odd numbers of tickets have better prices than four- or six-packs.”

I should also know what I‘m paying for. Because the way both primary and secondary marketplaces make money is by charging fees, they tend to benefit when they fool consumers.

Goldberg warns that some sites may add charges as I go through the process of selecting a ticket, putting it in my cart and checking out. From a savings perspective, the artificially low price I see on the first webpage doesn’t matter if I blindly click “submit order” on the last.

Interestingly enough, New York just passed a bill that mandates ticket sellers must be transparent about their fees right away (instead of waiting ‘til the end). It also forces resellers to disclose the original cost of the ticket.

Goldberg says this is a big deal for consumers like me who want to shop around for deals.

“This will drive fair and transparent competition between ticket sellers, thus leading to lower prices,” he says. “Now that New York has laid the groundwork for all-in pricing, we expect that other states will follow suit in the coming years.”

As far as what not to do when trying to buy tickets, both experts warned me against attempting to purchase seats on social media or on the street. The prices may be lower than on resale sites, but there’s just too much risk. I could get ripped off — or, worse, scammed.
THE BOTTOM LINE
(but please don't tell me you scrolled past all of my hard work)
In the face of a busy concert season, there are a couple of steps I can take to save money. Checking the box office, buying at the right time and shopping around can all help me. So can recent legislation.

But legit channels are the way to go here. Budelli points out a logistical issue: If I pay with cash or a payment app where I can’t track the purchase, I can’t recoup my money if I run into trouble. Goldberg says he can’t count how many times he’s heard of informal ticket exchanges going wrong.

Basically: I can’t go starry-eyed over $20 Jonas tickets and forget to use my head.

“If the deal is that good, then it's too good to be true,” he adds.
Sold Out
VIA GIPHY

RECEIPT OF THE WEEK
check out this wild celebrity purchase
LeBron
 
VIA INSTAGRAM
LeBron James may have recently become a billionaire, but he hasn’t abandoned his frugal ways just yet. In an interview with Bleacher Report, his ex-teammate Kevin Love said James refuses to pay phone roaming charges when playing abroad. “That drive from the airport and going through customs to then getting to our hotel, yeah, there’s no data used at all,” Love added. “He’s waiting for the Wi-Fi all the time.” We stan a cost-conscious King.

INTERNET GOLD
five things I'm loving online right now
1 Before becoming the world’s most memeable actor, Keanu Reeves had some odd jobs… like when the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had him cover a teddy bear convention in 1984. Reeves took his correspondent role very seriously, doling out unbearable puns on camera. Watch the clip here.
2 I love this Snapchat filter that teaches you how to fingerspell in American Sign Language.
3 When talk show hosts Desus and Mero heard about a group of elementary schoolers who set up a pep-talk hotline earlier this year, they got inspired. But rather than dole out self help advice, they had a handful of adorable kids record messages for a new Keep It 100 Hotline. Callers get #realtalk, with responses including “you can’t change her” and “you do look bad in that Instagram picture.” Welp.
4 A zoo in Switzerland is celebrating after the birth of an ultra-rare baby albino Galapagos giant tortoise. The red-eyed, white-shelled creature only weighs a few grams right now, but eventually he’ll grow to more than 880 pounds. Slow and steady wins the race.
5 Chicken on swing.
 

401(K)9 CONTRIBUTION
send me cute pictures of your pets, please
Maggie
VIA HANNAH SMITH
This is Maggie, who is taking a nap before going to see her favorite pupstar in concert tonight (she got a great deal on tickets).

See you next week.
 
Julia
 
P.S. Do you have any frugal tips for buying tickets on a budget? What’s your best strategy for avoiding roaming charges? Keep it 100 and send real talk to julia.glum@money.com or @SuperJulia on Twitter.
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