A major complaint with the secondary ticket market is that brokers charge above face value, sometimes multiples of face value, and then have the audactiy to tack on fees on the checkout page (*ahem* TicketProxy... no additional fees, ever!). Yea, it's true, most of the time tickets to a sold out concert or sporting event will cost you a premium if you're looking to buy after the event's already sold out, or maybe it's not sold out, but you want to be arms length from the performer, or courtside at the game... those too are going to cost a premium whether or not the event is sold out. But here's the thing 99% of brokers wont tell you... sometimes you can snag tickets for below face value!
"How can that be possible; ticket brokers are in it to make money, not lose it, right?" This my friends is true, but like any industry with an expireable comodity, the price fluctuates, and sometimes to the consumers benefit! Every event has it's own price curve... actually it's more like a wave. Take for example the following ficticious concert: The Accidents @ Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado on July 7th
The Accidents Price Wave
The Accidents are highly anticipated, their fan base is comprised of top 40 lovers across the globe and they just released their 88th album in 8 years, called "Delorean". Needless to say, this event is going to go FAST! Tickets go on sale January 1st and sell out in a matter of seconds... 88 to be exact. Minutes later, tickets are showing up on the secondary ticket market - places like StubHub, TicketProxy, and even eBay - for 3x face value! This is the beginning of the wave, tickets will likely stay at this rate for a 24-48 hours, maybe even a little longer. As the days or even weeks roll on the prices will drop and probably level off somewhere between 1.5-2x face value since the inital demand has subsided. During the 7 months prior to the show, ticket prices will generally fluctaute, first going down, then back up, then down, then up, then down, generally within the 1.5-2x face value range... many many times over until the month of the show.
The month of the show, people begin to get excited again, the show is getting more publicity and because of this the tickets on the secondary market start creeping back up! Don't worry, this happens all the time... it doesn't mean you're not going to get some cheap tickets. The day of the show comes and one of two things happen... the tickets drop like a rock, sometimes as much as half face value, and other times they hold their price or even shoot up.
How do we know which shows will do this?
We don't really know... but we can make educated guesses. In the case of our ficticious band, The Accidents, my guess would be that since they've been around for 8 years, made 88 albums (all of which went octuple platinum, btw), and just released a new album... tickets are going to hold or even go up the day of the show. But if it's a newer band, that's been around 2-3 years, I wouldn't bet on that happening (unless of course the band is Lady Gaga). In fact, I'd bet the tickets are going to sink, and if there's tons for sale on the secondary market, you've got a good chance of getting some on the cheap.
An important metric to consider is how many are for sale about a week out. Assuming this is a medium-large venue, 10,000 people or so, if there's 100-200 tickets for sale, they aren't going to drop. Conversely, if there's 600 or 700 for sale... pull out your pocket book!!! These tickets are about to go for a ride (down).
In the end, there aren't really any hard-fast rules as to whether a shows tickets are going to tank, in favor of the consumer. But there ways to make educated guesses, when looking for tickets, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Does this band/event have a long track record of popularity and sell out shows? If yes, then the tickets are more likely to hold value as the event nears.
2. One week out, how many tickets are available on the secondary market? If there's hundreds or even thousands... they're only going to get cheaper. If there's 200 or less (for a medium-large venue), waiting to buy may not be a good idea.
3. Closer to the event date, are the tickets selling fast or are they selling kind of slow? Lets say it's 9 days from showtime, there's 350 tickets on the secondary market (whichever market you choose); day 8 their's 300, day 7 there's 250... chances are, ticket prices are going to rise with demand... buy now. However, day 8 there's 335, then day 7 there's 325... the tickets are going to drop!
Again, these are NOT hard-fast rules... but they're decent indicators of what's going to happen. Use them to your advantage next time you're in the market for a sold out show!