Live music is one of the most exciting and thrilling experiences available. Luckily enough, most of us live nearby a place where a concert of some kind is happening every five minutes, it would seem. Especially in an area like Los Angeles or New York, there are live performances of all types happening constantly, from improvisational jazz bands to some of the most popular DJs and dance producers in the world. Whatever your flavor, your very first concert experience should be a special one, and we’ll talk about five of the best ways to make sure you have a great time, no matter what. As a bonus, I’ll let you know ahead of time that the true KEY is to make sure you bring your friend. Or a group of them. Just don’t go to your first concert alone, whatever you do.

1) Buy Tickets Well in Advance

Can you imagine showing up to the venue, excited to attend your very first concert, and learning that tickets have sold out minutes before you arrived? We’ve all seen this scenario played out in movies or television, and many of us wonder why Ticketmaster was an option. For you, it is. Buy your tickets well in advance so you don’t wind up straight out of luck when the big show rolls around.

2) Check Artists’ Release for Better Seats

Every concert venue gives the artist a number of tickets before the show starts. The band can do with these tickets what they want, and many wind up getting sold back to the venue if they’re not used. These tickets are then released to the public, typically two hours before doors open. This is a great way to get front-row seats to a sold-out concert the night of the show. This writer has employed such methods on many occasions.

3) Get There Early

Even if you’re not going to try to take advantage of the well-kept artists’ release secret, getting to the show an hour or two early means not having to fight through a throng of people trying to see your favorite act. If it’s standing room only, it may also mean being able to rest your elbows right on the stage.

4) Pick a Great Act

You obviously won’t pick your least favorite band to go see at your favorite show, but make sure you don’t just go to whatever band for your first concert. Pick something that will be really awesome and special to you for your first concert experience, as it’ll be that much more incredible.

5) Watch the Schedule

Keep your eye on nearby venues’ websites and schedules to know when your favorite acts are coming to town. It’s easy to keep track of things like the Madison Square Garden schedule, or whichever venue is in your area. With the right strategies, you can have an incredible concert experience that hopefully leads to a long and storied concert-going career.