How to get cheap concert tickets: Save on gig tickets in London and more UK cities
There's never a shortage of great live music, and while that’s great for our social lives, it’s not so easy on our wallets. Here’s everything you need to know for securing cheap concert tickets.
What’s that saying? Live music makes the world go round? There are few things we love more than dancing in a sweaty crowd listening to our favourite artists— like Peggy Gou— or saying Yeah with Usher, and belting out classics like School's Out by Alice Cooper.
With all this talk of live music, the RadioTimes.com team reminisced about their favourite music concerts. Digital Writer Olivia’s top performance came from Scouting For Girls at a small venue near Exeter University — she loved that they got the crowd involved with singing the songs. Digital Writer Joanna was moved to tears watching boygenius perform at Gunnersbury Park last summer.
Meanwhile, Digital Writer Laura’s favourite concert was Red Hot Chili Peppers at Reading and Leeds Festival circa 2016. She went with her sister, and the two of them have never jumped, danced, and shouted so much in their lives.
However, as fun as it is to see a musician live or your favourite comedian in person, getting a ticket to one of these events isn’t always the easiest. With extremely long tickets queues and priority entrances for members, purchasing a ticket for a live event can be an absolute nightmare! Plus, let’s not forget resellers, who aren’t always reliable.
The RadioTimes.com team have tackled the first hurdle in our ‘How to beat the Ticketmaster queue’ guide, and now we’re here to help you find cheap concert tickets, as well as suggest some reliable reseller sites.
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Finding cheap tickets is something the Going Out team excels at. Be sure to take a look at our how to get cheap theatre tickets and how to get cheap cinema tickets guides for top money saving tips. Plus, if you’re travelling further afield for adventures, perhaps check out our how to get cheap Alton Towers tickets, how to get cheap Chessington World of Adventures tickets and how to get cheap Thorpe Park tickets guides, and here’s how to get cheap train tickets.
So, music lovers- let’s find out how you can get cheap concert tickets to see your favourite artists live.
Here at RadioTimes.com, we always stay up-to-date with the latest news, like the release of a new George Michael Royal Mint coin.
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The types of concert goers can be split into two categories: those who plan to buy tickets for their favourite artists when they announce a tour, and those who enjoy listening to live music regardless of who’s performing. Sometimes, the two overlap — some of the RadioTimes.com writers love visiting their local pub for open mic nights and watching up-and-coming bands, as well as saving for their all-time favourite acts (Kylie Minogue, we’re patiently waiting).
If you fall into the second category, grassroots music venues are a brilliant place to see new UK acts. Grassroots music venues are pubs and spaces which look to bring culture to UK towns. The venue will usually invite artists who are local to the area, and which the town’s audiences will enjoy. Our local grassroots music venue in south London puts on these acts for free, so check if yours does, too.
Rough Trade is a group of independent record shops in the UK, with stores in London, Bristol and Nottingham. The stores often host free gigs ahead of an artist’s album release or signing. Rough Trade also puts on concerts for significantly less than other venues, too. One of the RadioTimes.com team went to see Nilüfer Yanya in Bristol for about £10.
If you’re in the first category, here’s how to find cheap concert tickets.
Where to buy cheap concert tickets UK
There are numerous ticketing websites which sell concert tickets: Ticketmaster, See Tickets, and Live Nation, just to name a few. Later on in the guide, we’ve broken down the booking fees on each of these sites to see which is the cheapest.
An artist’s tickets might not be on all ticketing sites. For example, SZA could release tickets on Ticketmaster and Live Nation but not See Tickets, so be sure to double check before you head over to a website at the ticket release time.
Tickets will be roughly the same price on each website, however, tickets may sell out on Ticketmaster first, and still be available on, for example, Live Nation, for a while after. If tickets sell out, you’ll have the option to buy resale tickets, which will be more expensive. There are various reseller sites, such as StubHub, Viagogo and Virgin Red.
Not just a ticketing site, Virgin Red is so much more, with customers also able to stack up rewards. Members can earn on the everyday and use these points for some very extraordinary experiences, including VIP concert access in the Virgin Red Room at Manchester’s AO Arena.
Plus, Virgin Red is pretty easy to sign up to as well. To get started, sign up online or through the Virgin Red app, choose your desired reward, make purchases through Virgin Red and watch your points grow. Once earned, points can be redeemed easily through the app or website.
We had the pleasure of watching Peter Kay live in concert from the Virgin Red Room, courtesy of Virgin Red. Complete with bubbles and a light dinner, it was a great night with what is arguably the best view in the arena.
Fancy seeing the Godfather of Shock Rock live in the UK? Here's how to get Alice Cooper tickets.
- DICE free concerts
- Access to pre-sales
- Sign-up to mailing lists and newsletters
- Save on the booking fee
- Buy at the box office
- Volunteer at a festival with Festaff
Free concerts with DICE
Ticketing app DICE has delivered with this offer: free concerts! Since 2014, DICE has been providing tickets to gigs and club nights, as well as festivals, raves, comedy nights and drag shows.
Occasionally on the app, you’ll see free concerts- keep your eyes peeled. There's only one thing better than cheap concert tickets, and that's free concert tickets.
Do you like the theatre as well as live music? Then check out the best West End shows as well as our guide on the best Christmas shows, plays and musicals in London, as well as how to get tickets to see War Horse.
Avoid the resale with pre-sale
As well as being a catchy heading, accessing pre-sales to avoid resales is one way to save money on concert tickets.
Pre-sales sell concert tickets at their standard price, and once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Usually, the first pre-sale is the artist pre-sale — fans who have signed up to the artist’s mailing list or pre-ordered their record will get first dibs on their concert tickets. Next, it’s usually reward scheme pre-sales, such as O2 Priority and Three+, and ticketing site pre-sales, like Ticketmaster and Live Nation, which go live 48 hours before general on sale is released. American Express also offers pre-sales for Amex customers.
For more information, take a look at our 'How does the American Express pre-sale work on Ticketmaster' guide.
If you're a fan of live music but not super loud noise, take a look at our guide on how do Loop Earplugs work? For the handy device which minimises sound.
Sign-up to mailing lists and newsletters
Be the first to know about your favourite artist’s tour by signing up to mailing lists and newsletters. We’d recommend signing-up to the artist's own mailing list, as well as the Ticketmaster mailing list. Plus, Spotify occasionally sends concert recommendations in your local area, which have been hand-picked depending on the genres of music you listen to.
RadioTimes.com’s Going Out newsletter is also a brilliant way to stay ahead of the game with new ticketing releases. As well as concert tickets, we have plenty of inspiration on how to spend your free time, from Planet Earth III: Live in Concert and London's Balloon Museum, to best immersive experiences and our comprehensive guide to ABBA Voyage tickets. You can sign-up using the widget below.
Save on the booking fee
You’ve just got to the front of the queue for Take That tickets and you’ve already mentally prepared to spend £60 on a ticket, when — bam! — you’re hit with a £3 booking fee and a £4 transaction fee. It’s not the end of the world, but it is annoying… We’ve broken down the average booking fee for each site.
Over at Ticketmaster, the ticketing site charged a £2.75 handling fee for Off Menu Podcast Live! tickets.
A Live Nation service fee is £6, and one user spent £3.90 on a booking fee at ATG Tickets, plus a £4 transaction fee.
At See Tickets, the booking fee varies depending on the popularity of the gig and the amount of the ticket. For example, Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2023 ticket booking fees ranged from anything from 50p to £5; the 50p fee was for a £10 ticket, and the £5 fee was for a £100 ticket. For Off Menu Podcast Live! tickets, there was a £5.45 booking fee, despite tickets costing around £30 – this is due to its huge popularity. With this in mind, See Tickets is seemingly the cheapest ticketing site.
- Check out concerts at Ticketmaster
- Check out concerts at Live Nation
- Check out concerts at See Tickets
Buy at the box office
This next hack seems positively medieval in this modern age. "Visit a physical box office? When we can buy tickets on our phones and computers. Are you out of your mind?" It may sound silly, but if you can easily get to a physical venue, this is a great way to cut out unnecessary costs like booking fees and service charges.
Volunteer at a festival
One of the RadioTimes.com team volunteered at Y Not Festival a few years ago: they were on a car park shift for a few hours every day, and had their evenings free to enjoy the live music. If you sign-up to volunteer, you'll get the festival ticket for absolutely free in exchange for helping out. Some charities such as Oxfam and Mind also ask for volunteers at festivals to help them run their stalls.
- Become an Oxfam festival volunteer
- Become a Mind festival volunteer
- Check out all festival volunteer roles at Festaff
UK deals site Groupon has fantastic savings on concerts across the country – albeit, they are mostly tribute concerts. At the time of writing, you can save up to 60 per cent on tickets to see Vivaldi's Four Seasons, as well as live jazz music for just £7.50.
- Get up to 60% off Vivaldi's Four Seasons
- Experience live jazz music for just £7.50
- Shop all Groupon deals