Bruce Springsteen Ticket prices seem to be cooling off a little — although that’s relative. On Wednesday, the day his first handful of shows for 2023 went on sale, ticketmaster sold its platinum tickets for face values up to $5,000 before hundreds more charges were made. However, on Friday, as more tour stops went up for sale, the highest face value one of the tickets appeared to have late in the day was just $2,695.
Controversy over, then, right?
Not exactly. A significant portion of Springsteen’s fan base is still confused at best and furious at worst over the unexpectedly skyrocketing cost of some of his tickets to the tour. Some is the operative word, as there are different types of ducats for the artist’s journey in 2023, and many seem to be fixed at fixed values, ranging from $60 to $400 if you make it, the moment in which she opens in the morning to come through the online door. But what’s left quickly after those are gone are “Platinum Tickets” with dynamic pricing that can and does go up 10x their original value almost immediately. Those inflated prices are what most fans see when they finally break the line… and, as this week showed, what they’re screenshotting and posting on social media sparks outrage.
While anger over ticket prices is nothing new, there has perhaps never been more crowd anger at a single tour’s prices than this week. And it seems reasonable to assume that neither Springsteen nor Ticketmaster saw it coming, given that variable pricing has been an industry staple for a number of years. Sources say most tickets for the tour were in a lower price range, but since these all sell out in minutes, most members of the public see what are essentially self-bought tickets that remain. Without transparency about what percentage of tickets are subject to fluctuating prices and which aren’t, it hasn’t helped make for a great look for a live industry still looking to lure people out of their homes in the wake of the pandemic.
The Springsteen and/or Ticketmaster camps are said to be writing a statement that would reflect their view of the situation, but none had been released as of Friday night. That leaves angry fans thinking less about The Rising and more about the ridiculous.
Still, there were fewer requests for the platinum tickets on Friday than on Wednesday, with it not being clear if this was due to a price cap or just the algorithm allegedly adjusting the discrepancies to a less heated number of requests. diversity looked at seating plans and ticket prices in several cities that went on sale on Friday, and what was available in the afternoon varied greatly from market to market.
In Greensboro, NC, one of the tour stops that went on sale Friday, an afternoon request for two seats from Ticketmaster saw 62 offers come as the first sales from the site. (Resale tickets, which Ticketmaster also offers, are not included.) The average price for a Ticketmaster ticket in Greensboro was calculated by diversity from these Friday offers: $903.39, before additional fees.
Of these 62 platinum Greensboro ticket offers, the highest was $2,695 and the lowest was $339. Those were both outliers. Only seven of those 62 pairs sold for less than $500 and only 10 went for more than $1,000, leaving most prices right in the high hundreds.
But you could see different extremes if you look at two other cities that just went on sale earlier in the day, Albany, NY and Denver, Colorado. In Albany, late afternoon, you could pick up 109 pairs of platinum tickets, and all but seven cost less than $1,000 a ticket. But in Denver at the same hour, only six pairs of remaining tickets were available directly through Ticketmaster, and five of the six were available for over $1,000. (Interestingly, in addition to having only a few platinum tickets left to purchase, Denver has also shown a minimal number of resale tickets on its seating map compared to other cities. Is Colorado a real bastion of real fans?)
In Mohegan, Ct. you could pick up 41 pairs of platinum tickets at the end of the day, not a bargain. Only two of the 41 couples cost less than $1,000 per ticket; Six of these cost more than $2,000, leaving the majority of the remaining tickets in the $1,000–$2,000 range without resale.
Those prices will still seem unbearable to many fans, but it’s an improvement on what was reported Wednesday when Ticketmaster was offering floor seats for over $4,000 and even nosebleed “Platinums” for $700 and up.
Music fans who, in the face of this anger, wish for an end to variable pricing may find little satisfaction in this. Though most might not have been very aware of it until now, the system was controversial at least until Taylor Swift’s “Reputation” tour in 2018, when the Swifties sitting side by side began to realize the prices they would die for their seats Prices paid at the time varied by hundreds of dollars depending on when they bought in. Proponents of the system might point out that it can also work in fans’ favor, dropping tickets drastically in the final leg when demand is met.
It’s also worth noting that there’s no evidence of anyone buying a $5,000 or even $4,000 ticket to Springsteen through Ticketmaster — just that the algorithm threw them up at that price point and saw if anyone bit.
But dynamic pricing represents a still fairly new wrinkle in the live industry where a sellout can be viewed as a bad thing and not something to brag about. In this mindset, it means you’ve priced your tickets to sensible and left a lot of money on the table that was picked up by StubHub.
“What did Bruce know and when did he know?” seems to be a question that lingers on the minds of fans, even as they harass Stevie Van Zant and other band members on Twitter for the non-camp answers. The most reasonable assumption would be that the artist is aware of dynamic pricing – and he wasn’t afraid to charge premium prices for his one-man Broadway show – but he probably hadn’t considered a 5-grand Seeing request for standard arena tickets is becoming a leading meme.
Artist can Discard the variable pricing strategy or cap it, they say, although few have done so publicly. One of them was the band Crowded House. In 2020, the group released a statement stating, “While it may be common practice with other tours, at Crowded House we do not endorse the sale of premium tickets living nation Describe it “at fair market prices, where the price is adjusted according to supply and demand”. The band had no prior knowledge of these coveted tickets and did not sanction this program. Our promoters, Live Nation, have agreed, at our request, that any ticket holders who have paid more than face value under the ‘In Demand’ program will be refunded the additional fees at the time of purchase.” (Live Nation replied, “It’s always It’s up to the artist how their tickets are priced and sold, especially with in-demand tickets as these are designed to ensure all value returns to the artist rather than lining the pockets of scalpers.’)
The house of the artists who have joined Neil Finn and company in willfully refusing this extra money? Not so crowded.