Whether concert tickets get cheaper last minute is a common question for music fans looking to get the best deal on seats. The short answer is sometimes, but not always. Ticket prices can fluctuate leading up to and even after a show goes on sale, but there are no guarantees they will drop. Generally, the biggest factor is how well ticket sales are going – if the concert is in high demand, prices will remain steady or could even increase closer to the show. However, if ticket sales are lagging, especially near the event date, the artist or venue may lower prices to try to fill more seats.
When do concert tickets typically go on sale?
Most concert tickets go on sale to the general public around 2-3 months prior to the event. However, presales for fan club members, credit card holders or other groups may begin up to a week earlier. The on-sale date is usually announced ahead of time, so fans know when to be ready to buy. For very high demand shows, tickets can sell out within minutes or even seconds of going on sale. More niche concerts may take a few days or weeks to fully sell out. Either way, the sooner you attempt to buy after the on-sale, the better selection of seats you’ll have to choose from.
Do prices change between the on-sale date and the concert date?
Ticket prices can fluctuate between the on-sale date and the actual event for several reasons:
As the event approaches, prices often increase due to demand.
Fans realize their calendars are free that night or simply procrastinated buying tickets. As demand increases closer to the show, prices tend to go up. Ticket resellers may raise prices as well if tickets on primary sites are sold out.
For low-demand shows, prices may decrease to boost sales.
If an artist can’t sell out a venue, the box office may strategically lower prices to try to fill more seats. Dynamic pricing algorithms used by Ticketmaster and other ticket sellers automatically adjust prices based on demand. Less popular performers or small venues are where you’ll typically find these last minute deals.
Promoters may release discounted ticket batches at various times.
To spur a boost in sales, concert promoters will often release extra tickets at a discount. These limited promotions randomly pop up in the weeks or days leading up to shows. Social media contests and fan club presales are good ways to gain access to these deals.
Scalped ticket prices tend to drop right before the event.
Tickets purchased from resellers and scalpers are frequently marked up far above face value. But as it gets closer to showtime, scalpers run the risk of being stuck with unsold inventory. To cut losses, their prices usually come down dramatically in the final 48-72 hours before the event.
When are concert tickets most expensive?
On average, concert tickets tend to be most expensive in these scenarios:
- Immediately after the on-sale date when availability is widest
- Hours leading up to the doors opening when demand is highest
- For sold out shows where secondary market prices take over
- During peak tour dates or festivals when many big artists are on the bill
You’ll almost always pay more buying tickets as close to showtime as possible, unless unsold tickets suddenly get discounted at the last minute.
When is the best time to buy concert tickets?
Savvy concertgoers aim to buy tickets during pre-sales or right when they first go on sale to the general public. This ensures the lowest prices, best seat locations and avoids sellouts.
Here are some tips for getting the best deals:
- Join fan clubs and subscribe to artist newsletters – most have pre-sale ticket access
- Follow your favorite venues and promoters on social media – they will announce pre-sales
- Sign up for presale passwords – oftentimes sponsored by credit cards and radio stations
- Be ready online the minute tickets go on sale – have accounts created and payment info saved
- Aim for weekdays vs weekends – tickets are often cheaper with lower demand
Buying well in advance eliminates the gamble of waiting for prices to drop. But if you missed out early, all hope is not lost.
When can I find last minute ticket deals?
As mentioned above, less popular events that are struggling to sell tickets will often have discounts near the show date. Here are some specific occasions when last minute deals can be found:
- The day before or day of the concert – this is when unsold tickets may be dumped below face value.
- After the concert starts – prices really plummet once the show begins and empty seats need to be filled.
- For sporting events and theaters – vendors outside venues often drastically slash prices after the event begins to recoup something on unsold inventory.
- Inclement weather – prices tend to drop if the forecast looks bad.
- Weekday shows – lower demand means better availability and prices.
- Holidays and off-peak times – concerts on Christmas, Thanksgiving etc. are less expensive.
The tradeoff of buying last minute is limited selection and uncertainty of availability. But checking prices 48-72 hours before an event can yield great deals.
What are the cheapest ways to get tickets?
Some proven strategies for getting cheap concert tickets include:
Buying General Admission or Lawn Seats
General admission (GA) stands on the floor or lawn seats behind the reserved sections are often the cheapest option. First come, first served for a spot. Great for thrifty fans who don’t mind not having an assigned seat.
Buying Upper Level or Obstructed View Seats
The highest rows in an upper deck or obstructed views behind pillars and structures are not ideal sight lines but typically the most budget friendly.
Buying Single Tickets
Buying single seats spread throughout a venue is cheaper than pairs. Groups of 4, 6, 8 etc. tend to be most expensive.
Buying Tickets on Off Days
Aim for midweek shows instead of Friday and Saturday. demand is lower so prices follow.
Using Presales, Discounts and Promos
Create accounts and sign up for pre-sales, fan clubs, email lists to gain access to deals before the general public.
Examples of concerts with cheap last minute tickets
Here are some real world examples of concerts where tickets got cheaper as showtime approached:
LCD Soundsystem’s 20-night residency at Brooklyn Steel (2017)
LCD Soundsystem announced a lengthy 20-show run at Brooklyn Steel, a new venue in NYC. Tickets went on sale 3 months in advance with face values from $60-150 based on show date. The early shows completely sold out while the later dates only sold moderately. By the final week, Stubhub had tickets under $10 and some were given away free just to fill the room.
|3 months before first show
|Initial face value range
|$60-150 per ticket
|Final week market value
|Under $10 per ticket
Alabama Shakes tour date in Knoxville, TN (2016)
Demand was soft for an Alabama Shakes concert date midweek in smaller market Knoxville. Prices steadily declined from the on-sale to boost attendance.
|3 months prior
|Initial face value
|$75 for reserved seats
|Day before show
|$39 on Groupon
|Day of show
|$20 on Craigslist
Adele tour date in Tulsa, OK (2016)
Superstar Adele announced a tour date in Tulsa’s BOK Center (capacity 17,000) roughly 2 months before the show. Tickets steadily declined as the concert struggled to sell out a large venue in the smaller market.
|2 months prior
|Initial price range
|$49 – $149 per seat
|One month out
|Tickets 40% cheaper on resale sites
|Day before show
|Tickets as low as $6 on StubHub
Are last minute tickets guaranteed to be cheaper?
No, there is no guarantee concert tickets will get cheaper as the event date nears. In many cases, they remain the same price or get higher leading up to showtime. Here are some factors that influence last minute pricing:
- How quickly the show originally sold out – high demand events will have less price drops
- If the artist or venue releases more discounted ticket batches closer to the date
- If the tickets were initially underpriced, leaving more room for market price increases
- How large the venue is – pricing is less flexible at smaller, consistently packed venues
- How devoted an artists’ fanbase is – popular bands with loyal fans tend to retain values
Rather than banking on prices falling, your best bet is buying early when you have the most choices and can lock in face value cost. But checking back a week or so before the event can sometimes yield deals.
How low can prices realistically drop in the last week?
For highly unfilled events, tickets in the final week can plummet to wildy cheap prices like $5-10 compared to much higher initial face values. Even free tickets are possible if promoters giveaway unsold seats just to boost the crowd size. Real world examples:
- Tickets to a Future Islands concert in Cambridge dropped from $40 down to $6 on StubHub 2 days before the show due to lagging ticket sales.
- Comedian Aziz Ansari’s show in Atlantic City saw tickets as low as $5 on the secondary market the day of the event.
- A Chicago theater gave away tickets to a play via an online contest the night before to fill unsold seats.
But for more popular shows in bigger markets, a more realistic last minute drop is between 20-40% below face value as long as a decent number of tickets remain unsold.
Should I risk waiting until the last minute to buy tickets?
While scoring dirt cheap tickets hours before a concert can feel rewarding, it is an extremely risky gamble. The ideal strategy is locking in tickets early when selection and availability is highest. But if you are flexible on seat location or attending a less popular event, waiting until right before the show for possible deals can pay off. Just know that you may end up having to pay more than face value on secondary sites or completely miss out if unsold tickets don’t materialize.
How can I get notified if ticket prices drop for an event?
Many ticket resale sites and apps have price tracking features that enable you to monitor when ticket prices for a specific event fluctuate up or down:
- SeatGeek – Lets you track specific seats and locations and get notified when prices change.
- StubHub – Email alerts can be set for price changes on particular ticket listings.
- Vivid Seats – Price drop notifications and suggested listings based on budget.
- Gametime – Get push notifications when prices hit certain thresholds.
- Slickdeals – User-driven deal community will post concert ticket price drops.
Staying on top of the market this way provides more data to determine the optimal time to purchase.
How to shop for last minute tickets
If you do decide to hold out for the possibility of declining prices, here are some tips:
- Check primary sites repeatedly for ticket releases – venues will often release held-back seats
- Wait until 2-3 weeks out to allow prices to start dropping on secondary sites
- Focus on weekdays instead of weekends
- Expand your section options – the worst seats often fall the most
- Compare multiple resale sites like StubHub, Vivid, SeatGeek to find cheapest options
- Don’t wait until day of – popular shows will be long gone
Patience and persistence are key. Prices likely won’t plummet overnight, so check regularly as the event nears for the downward trend.
Should I ever buy tickets last minute at the venue box office?
Buying tickets directly at the box office the day of the event used to be a smart budget strategy back when most tickets were paper. Nowadays with digital ticketing, you likely won’t find much availability so close to showtime. Most unsold tickets get dumped online. But box offices will sometimes release seats day of, so if you live nearby it can be worth checking:
- Ask what the current price is for any unsold seats
- Inquire if discounted rush or standing room only tickets are available
- Check the forecast – rainy weather may help prices fall
- Get in line early – box office only seats are first come, first served
Finding tickets for 50-75% off face value is rare these days, but possible for unfilled shows or bad weather.
Other ways to get cheap and free tickets
Outside of buying last minute, here are some other creative ideas for affordable concert tickets:
Win free tickets from local radio stations
Many stations run online contests and call-in giveaways for concert tickets, especially on the day of shows. Following stations on social media and having their app can help you find out right when giveaways start.
Try for free upgrades at smaller venues
Some concert halls and clubs will upgrade your tickets to better seats for free if the sections are mostly empty, since they want to fill up the front rows. Doesn’t hurt to politely ask!
Volunteer at festivals and major concerts
Big multi-day festivals and concerts often recruit volunteers to help run the event in exchange for free entry. The work mostly involves setting up gear, passing out programs, cleanup, etc. Great way to attend on the cheap!
- There are no guarantees concert tickets will get cheaper last minute.
- Less popular shows in smaller markets have the best chance of declining prices.
- Buying early is still ideal to lock in face value prices and best seat options.
- Monitoring prices and checking resale sites leading up to events can reveal deals.
- Day before/day of unsold tickets may plummet drastically or even be given away free.
- Be cautious buying last minute – often limited selection and high risk of no availability.
While scoring amazing deals at the last second is rare, keeping an eye on prices as concert dates approach can pay off. But buying early is still the best way to secure seats at face value. The only surefire way to get cheap tickets is when the initial on-sale prices are discounted, so joining artist fan clubs for pre-sale access is a smart strategy.
Concert ticket prices fluctuating leading up to events is extremely common. But counting on seats getting cheaper is an unreliable gamble. With intense competition from other buyers, long sellouts and rising demand, there are no guarantees. Yet for less popular acts or small venue shows, checking secondary market prices 48-72 hours out can reveal amazing steals vs. just buying tickets when they initially go on sale months prior. While buying early locks in face value pricing, last minute shopping does provide budget-minded live music fans an occasional shot at huge deals.