As concert season heats up, so too does the demand for tickets. Whether you're scoring seats to a show at a colossal stadium or at a small hole-in-the-wall locale, there are essentially three ways to buy: through the venue, a vendor or the band itself.
Band Web sites are always promoting tours and often sell to early-bird buyers. They are usually a great source for links to others who are selling, such as traditional ticket vendors or the venues themselves.
The concert venue will almost always sell tickets directly to fans. Compared to commercial vendors, their prices may be modestly shaved down. However, newly revised ticket sale laws allow venues to slap a surcharge on tickets as a means to "give back" to the performers.
Vendors like Ticketmaster, Telecharge and Coast to Coast are reliable but expensive. The vendors always add a ticket surcharge, anywhere from $5 to $15. And when a band tours and prices vary from venue to venue, they may use a flat price — the highest, of course.
Ticket brokers, resale "professionals" who have legitimate ticket resale licenses, can be found in the newspaper as well as online. However, they cater not only to Joe and Jane Fan but to corporations. And no matter how deep your pockets, it's tough to compete with the big boys.
Common folk — and brokers who pretend to be — auction spare tickets on eBay. The good news is that if you're a die-hard fan ready to sell a kidney for a good seat, you're in business. And if you're willing to hold out until the last minute and risk coming away empty-handed, you may find someone desperate to sell their tickets for, well, a song.
There are two ways to bid: Either manually track the progress of the bid or opt for the automatic bidding system, which allows the buyer to set a maximum price while eBay's software does the work of keeping you in the high seat.
Finally, there are always scalpers. Always found outside concert venues, usually on the corner of Shady and Creepy, they're a great source for last-minute deals. If you're skilled at haggling, even better. But caveat emptor — these street walkers often peddle fakes, and the legalities of dealing with them vary from state to state. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your local laws, because the only thing worse than missing the show is missing it from the inside of a jail cell.