Bruce Springsteen Addresses Ticketmaster’s Dynamic Pricing That Led To $5,000 Tickets
This week, the big story in the music world is the way that Ticketmaster hellaciously bungled the pre-sales for Taylor Swift’s coming Eras tour. In releasing tickets early to “verified fans” and Capital One cardholders, Ticketmaster left buyers waiting for hours in glitchy online cues and then, when their numbers came up, gave them mere seconds to buy their tickets. When fans did get a chance to buy those tickets, they were often astronomically expensive — in the thousands, thanks to Ticketmaster’s out-of-control “dynamic pricing” model. That whole boondoggle has led to lawmakers calling to break up Ticketmaster’s effective monopoly and to Ticketmaster itself cancelling the general-public sale of those Taylor tickets. It’s an infuriating mess.
Taylor Swift isn’t the only big star who will be hitting North American stadiums this summer, and she’s not the only one who has come under fire for allowing Ticketmaster to go crazy with dynamic pricing. A few months ago, tickets went on sale for Bruce Springsteen’s 2023 tour with the E Street Band, and some of those tickets cost upwards of $5,000. Ticketmaster has defended those prices, arguing that “prices and formats are consistent with industry standards for top performers.” Now, Springsteen himself has responded.
In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Springsteen basically said that he thinks it’s time for him and his band to get paid — or, at least, to avoid undercutting themselves by charging less for tickets than their contemporaries. Here’s what he said:
What I do is a very simple thing. I tell my guys, “Go out and see what everybody else is doing. Let’s charge a little less.” That’s generally the directions. They go out and set it up. For the past 49 years or however long we’ve been playing, we’ve pretty much been out there under market value. I’ve enjoyed that. It’s been great for the fans.
This time I told them, “Hey, we’re 73 years old. The guys are there. I want to do what everybody else is doing, my peers.” So that’s what happened. That’s what they did [laughs].
But ticket buying has gotten very confusing, not just for the fans, but for the artists also. And the bottom line is that most of our tickets are totally affordable. They’re in that affordable range. We have those tickets that are going to go for that [higher] price somewhere anyway. The ticket broker or someone is going to be taking that money. I’m going, “Hey, why shouldn’t that money go to the guys that are going to be up there sweating three hours a night for it?”
It created an opportunity for that to occur. And so at that point, we went for it. I know it was unpopular with some fans. But if there’s any complaints on the way out, you can have your money back.
When the writer Andy Greene asks Springsteen whether he’ll avoid dynamic pricing in the future, Springsteen had this to say:
I don’t know. I think in the future, we’ll be talking about it, of course [laughs]. It changes from tour to tour. We will be coming back. I’m sure we’ll be playing outside somewhat. That’ll be a whole other discussion when that comes around. I don’t want to say anything now, but we’ll see what happens.
Taylor Swift has yet to address her own ticket brouhaha. UPDATE: OK, now she’s addressed it.