In late July, tickets sold out for Springsteen’s first US show with E Street in six years. Like tens of thousands of others, Avery went online to try and buy tickets. By the time I got off the virtual Ticketmaster queue, the only tickets priced at face value for the show she wanted at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut were in the nosebleed sections. When Avery went to buy a slightly better seat, she watched the ticket price in her carriage rise vertigo. She ended up paying $800, several hundred dollars on face value.
Avery isn’t the only Springsteen fan suffering from sticker shock, thanks to Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing policy, which uses an algorithm to adjust prices in real time according to supply and demand. Instead of tickets being sold at face value through Ticketmaster and then resold by speculators at exorbitant – sometimes exorbitant – prices, dynamic pricing allows artists to effectively raise their ticket prices before they reach the secondary market. Ticketmaster compares this to airline and hotel pricing, which can change without notice, although Ticketmaster, unlike those companies, has near-total market dominance in its field.
Artists like Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney have used dynamic pricing for years, but this was the first time that music’s most controversial ticketing practice was played into the most ferocious fan base. The dust that followed exposed the growing divisions between many artists and their fans, between the 1 per cent who could buy tickets and the die-hard and increasingly underprivileged fans who couldn’t.
For Springsteen’s biggest fan, it’s an unfortunate collision of circumstances: pent-up demand after years of confinement, six years since the E Street Band tour, a lack of understanding of the changing market, and the fear that 72-year-old Springsteen will never tour a full-fledged band again.
Since Springsteen has vowed to never do an official farewell tour, any tour could theoretically be her last. And not just for Bruce. “I look at pictures from 2016 of myself and some friends at the shows, and some people have died since then, you know,” says Stan Goldstein, a longtime fan who has been doing Bruce-themed tours of his native Jersey Shore since 1999. “She looks at the picture and says, ‘Oh, he’s gone. she is gone.’ You never know. “
Fans say they are upset not only with the ticket prices but the lack of transparency. The outrage was rife on Twitter and other places people love to get upset all the time, but also, and most surprisingly, on Springsteen’s Instagram and Facebook fan groups. “This is what a crisis of faith feels like,” tweeted Backstreets magazine, a darling fan, Backstreets magazine. Words such as “betrayal” and “punch the guts” were often used. “I expect these things from vultures,” one fan quietly tweeted.
So this is what a crisis of faith feels like.
Backstreetsmag 23 July 2022
Many called an unspoken contract between the singer and his fans, which has now been broken. It was difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile Superstar Bruce, from Sell his music catalog Last year for Sony for $550 million, it was a legend longer than many fans were alive, with Man of the People Bruce, a Carhartt-wearing grandfather from New Jersey. As long as Springsteen wasn’t overtly soaking up his fan base, it was easy for everyone to look the other way, pretending that no such stratification existed, to avoid titles like this on NJ.com: “Bruce Springsteen doesn’t care about you.”
“I don’t feel like I’m letting you down,” said Flynn McClain, co-host of the fan-favourite Springsteen podcast.Nothing but the brave. “You know, I haven’t bought a working-class champ for a long time.” McClain is going to a show anyway.
Fan Amy Dima says Springsteen has always treated his fan base like family, and has kept ticket prices historically low adding to the exasperation. She hasn’t missed Bruce’s tour since 1980, but she turned down a pair of not-so-great Boston tickets that would have cost $18,000. Dima is going to three performances on the European stage of the tour; Traveling to Dublin, staying for three concerts and back is still cheaper than US dynamic pricing. Many fans are doing the same, though they fear that delivering Springsteen concerts to the 1% of the Wall Street Brothers will alter the dynamic of the show, and irreparably alter the strained bonds between Bruce and his audience. “These are the people who feel very betrayed,” she says. “We were invited and hugged and told we were an important part of what he was trying to do with his music. Now we feel left out.”
The quirks of the dynamic pricing system also frustrated potential buyers who said they could no longer see the original ticket prices and didn’t know how much they had paid too much, or didn’t realize that their $300 tickets had turned into $3,000 tickets until their finger hovered over a button. Submission of the application”.
Many bought those tickets anyway and gave similar reasons. I was afraid of getting lost. I didn’t want to spend the next six months watching to see if the algorithm lowered prices. Bruce is 72 years old. You never know.
Fans blame promoters, Ticketmaster and longtime Springsteen manager John Landau. (According to a statement from Ticketmaster, “Promoters and artist representatives” are responsible for setting pricing standards.) Many will tell you that Bruce has nothing to do with setting prices, and that he may be working behind the scenes now to issue refunds, and that he may not even know about the whole notch.
He knows, says Bob Lefsetz, author of the industry publication Lefsetz Letter. He thinks that at best, Springsteen and his team were vaguely aware of the practice and thought ticket prices would go up a few hundred dollars at most, and they didn’t think of capping the prices. “Bruce, his only goal was to make sure that whatever tickets sold, he got paid for the speculators,” says Lefsetz. “That’s how simple it is. Is it [mess] Even by not putting an end to it? Yeah okay.”
While the $5,000 tickets sparked the most outrage, it’s hard to find people who actually paid that money. Those hypothetical numbers may be the product of a very massive algorithm; Ticket prices for many shows have settled into the low fours, and tickets for shows in smaller cities (like Tulsa, for example) can still be found near face value. According to a statement from Ticketmaster, whose accounts can best be described as opaque, the average ticket price, at least at the start of the sale, is $262.
It’s been a long time since Springsteen has faced this kind of widespread public condemnation, and it looks like he’s been arrested. He has yet to address the issue publicly, which is another sticking point with fans who are in an unusually unforgiving mood. “I think whatever mistake or oversight they made in terms of letting those tickets go out at $3,000, or $4,000, or $5,000 last week, they deserve it,” says Podcaster MacLean. “There aren’t many defenders of Bruce at this point.”
With several West Coast dates, including Los Angeles, yet to be announced, and a possible stadium tour after that, the drama could go on for a long time. Landau issued a statement to the New York Times This seemed to make matters worse, noting that ticket prices were in line with their Springsteen counterparts, of which there weren’t many, anyway. “I think in today’s environment, it is only fair to see someone who is universally regarded as among the greatest artists of his generation,” he said.
The backlash likely won’t survive the early minutes of the tour’s premiere in Tampa this February, but until then, there are indications that Springsteen is beginning to understand his predicament. Goldstein met the singer in Asbury Park on Sunday, on his long run, Wonder Bar. Springsteen hung out with the dogs (Wonder Bar keeps a dog-friendly Yappy Hour), mostly unnoticed. A video of the singer with the owner going viral to celebrate the bar’s 20th anniversary, a timely reminder that the singer hasn’t forgotten his roots, has since gone viral.
Goldstein, understandably, did not mention the status of tickets during his meeting with Springsteen. But if Susan Avery confronts the Bruce, she says she will speak up. “I would say, you know, ‘I still love your music. I think you are amazing. You changed my life. Thank you for being in my life. But I have to tell you, I was really disappointed with what happened with Ticketmaster. ‘I would like to hear what he has to say about it.’