How I Got Guestlisted for a Sold-Out Show

I’ve always been told that your 20s are the best years; you start living your own life and making memories that shape who you are. Well, as a 21-year-old who lost the last few memory-making years to COVID, I’ve been desperately trying to catch up on crossing items off my bucket list. One such item was seeing one of my favourite bands live, so I was ecstatic to learn they were coming to Toronto. But… the show was sold out. I couldn’t let that stop me. I was determined. I had to get in somehow. And, with $25 tickets reselling for $130 (unacceptable behaviour, honestly), getting in the conventional way wasn’t an option. That’s when I remembered a conversation I had with a friend who practically made going to concerts her job. She told me of a way I could not only get into the concert but do it for free. I had to get on the guest list. If you’re interested in living the ‘it girl’ lifestyle or the ‘almost famous’ lifestyle, this may be your ticket in. Here are my best-kept secrets for getting into any concert.

To get on the guestlist, you’re gonna have to get in contact with the bands playing. Find their social media; are they most active on Instagram, TikTok, or X? In my case, the bands playing were most active on Instagram. After stalking their profiles for a bit, I decided to be bold. I would contact them directly and ask them for a ticket. I figured, “What’s the worst that can happen? They say no?” I can survive some simple rejection. I was once told that you have to take chances for them to succeed. It turns out that they’re right. I sent the opener a message replying to their story, and lo and behold, I got a response. “We can put you on the list.” The list. I swear I could hear angels singing; I was so excited. I chatted to the opener for a bit, telling them how excited I was for the show later that night, and fate smiled upon me. “Got a plus one for you, too.” I not only got one free ticket, but two. Two! For a sold-out show. I couldn’t believe my eyes. 

It’s important to note that this method works best closer to the concert date. If you find that asking bands for a way in isn’t working, do something that gives them a reason to put you on the guest list. Leverage your strengths: Are you a great photographer? Write for a zine or local paper? Make custom merch? Veteran fan of theirs? Tell the band what you have to offer in order to increase your chances of getting in.

Before you contact anyone, you’ll want to curate your social media. This step isn’t just about making yourself look interesting (which is definitely an objective) but also making it clear that you are a genuine fan who deserves to get into the show. If the show is age-restricted, make sure you put your age in your bio so bands can quickly check that you are even allowed to attend. The show I went to in October was 19+, so it was important to let the band see that I was old enough to attend. Make your profile public if they decide to check out your posts to see what kind of person you are. My profile is full of concert photography, which illustrates that I am a genuine music fan who will truly appreciate the concert experience. 

After the concert, show your appreciation to the band for getting you in. There are some unspoken etiquette rules for the last-minute guest. First, buy merch. You didn’t pay to get in; the least you can do is buy a T-shirt! This directly supports the band who helped you out and is a perfect way to say thanks, especially if they are manning the merch table themselves. This also gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself and thank them in person. And who knows, maybe they remember you later in their career and bring you back to a future show. Secondly, post pictures and videos from the concert on social media. Even if you’re just posting a tagged clip of the band to your story, you’re still helping them get their name out there. Finally, reach out to the band again on social media to let them know how much you appreciate their generosity. This establishes a connection between you and the band and hopefully makes your name and face more recognizable to them.