5 Ways to See Live Music & Entertainment for Less

With summer in full swing, concert season is here. I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of live entertainment. Music concerts, plays, musical theater shows, even baseball – I love watching them all. You’ll probably agree with me that seeing entertainment live in person is better than listening to or watching recordings. But attending every event that comes around can leave your wallet pretty empty.

That’s way I’m always on the lookout for ways to see shows for less. Here are the top five ways that I’ve found to get deals on music and other shows.


1)  Visit your music conservatory or university music department

Check out the nearest music conservatory or university music department to find performances by students and professors. Undergraduate and graduate students have to give recital performances regularly as part of their studies. You might be surprised to find out how much great music gets performed. As an added bonus, most recitals and performances are free.

In San Francisco, the Conservatory of Music provides more performances than there are days in a year. Students provide performances on guitar, piano, voice, and other instruments. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to student concerns and been moved my hearing my favorite classical music pieces up close and live. Most recently, I saw the Sondheim musical revue Side by Side just. When will I get to see that again in my life? Maybe not ever. I was lucky to be able to see it and at no cost.


2)  Goldstar

One of my favorite websites for finding discounted tickets is Goldstar. I’ve found tickets to contemporary music concerts, the ballet, the symphony, and baseball games on there. My most recent weekly email from Goldstar included discounted tickets to REO Speedwagon and Lionel Richie this summer. They’re good deals if you like the acts.

Some of the deals are deeply discounted, while others are only a few dollars difference from full price once you add in service fees. So do some calculations and double check prices before purchasing. But some good deals are available to be had.


3)  Get access to pre-sale tickets

Most (if not all) performance artists have email lists for their fans. When you sign up, you can get access to tickets before non-subscribers or the general public. Some credit cards also come with deals that allow members to purchase tickets in advance. American Express is one company known for offering pre-sale tickets. While you may not get the tickets for less than face value, these are good ways to get tickets to popular concerts that will surely sell out.


4)  Last-minute tickets

Several cities have programs set up to sell same-day tickets at discounted prices. In SF, TIX Bay Area offers that service. While you won’t get tickets to the most popular shows like Hamilton and The Book of Mormon, some high-quality shows are listed. Right now tickets are available for shows at American Conservatory Theater and the SF Symphony. Both are highly regarded in the city for their work.

I know that the same type of service is offered in Las Vegas. The last time I was there, I used the service to get discounted tickets to an awesome Cirque du Soleil show. With as many shows as Vegas has, you’re practically guaranteed to find something you’ll enjoy.

Another way to get last-minute tickets is to line up the theater box office a few hours before a show (if that option is available). In SF, musical theater shows usually have discount tickets available for purchase at the box office two hours before the show.

I lined up this past winter and got Orchestra section tickets to the Lion King for only $25. Currently there’s a digital lottery for $10 tickets to Hamilton. The offerings and methods for selection vary by city and show, so do some research first and you may score some great deals.


5)  Ticket resale sites

You can often find last-minute tickets to concerts on sites like Craigslist and Nextdoor. Tickets may be at or below face value because people are looking to get rid of their tickets and recoup some of the cost. I’ve seen good deals for Outside Lands Music and Art Festival tickets in past years. Frequently it’s because someone bought a multi-day pass but can’t attend one of the days.

There’s no doubt that if a show is really popular, you may have no way around paying full price or even above that if it’s sold out. Discounts are more likely to be found if the show isn’t as popular. Also, as with waiting for the last minute on anything, you take the risk of not being able to go at all if you don’t find the right tickets or the right price. It’s best to have a back-up plan for your entertainment if that happens.

 Related posts:

What shows are you interested in seeing this summer season? What are some of the ways you save on live entertainment?

5 Ways to See Live Music & Entertainment for Less