Fans Of Bruce Springsteen Are Calling Him A Lot Of Names This Week. 'The Boss' Isn't One Of Them

Post by: Rick Ellis 21 July, 2022

I've interviewed and spent time around enough well-known people that I can't say I'm a super fan of anyone. The one exception to that might be my relationship with Bruce Springsteen, which goes back to my wayward teen years.

When I was a high schooler in Southern Indiana I ran away from home and headed to Chicago for reasons that now seem pretty stupid. But through a series of events worthy of a John Hughes movie, I found myself sneaking into a club called the Quiet Knight in hopes of seeing a group called The Persuasions. But I also got my first glimpse of Bruce Springsteen, a performer I had seen mentioned in Creem Magazine, but had never bothered to listen to.

His show was miles away from what you could see even a year or two later, but it was enough to make me a lifelong fan. When I was going to college in Southern California a few years later, I was dating a woman who worked for Columbia Records and she got us into one of the later Roxy shows as well as a concert at Winterland. I'm not the level of fan who books plane tickets to catch a show in Spain or the U.K., but I've seen him and his variation incarnations of bands a number of times over the years. Some shows were more entertaining than others (I'm glad the Woody Guthrie phase is behind him), but I've always admired his talent and his determination to stay musically relevant to himself and his fans.

Now I'm a father who a son who has autism and he's learned to love some of Springsteen's music because it gives us another connection. He's never attended a real rock and roll concert and even though neither one of was quite sure how he'd tolerate the sound levels, he has been looking forward to seeing The Boss live when he came to St. Paul, Minnesota.

This is Springsteen's first U.S. tour since 2016 and given the age and health of everyone involved, this tour is likely the last one with what is left of the E-Street Band. I knew going into the ticket-buying process it was going to be difficult and likely expensive. Based on other tours I've seen come through here lately, I assumed I might be able to grab a couple of nosebleed seats in a far corner for $150 or $200 apiece. It's a lor of money, but it would be a once-in-a-lifetime father and son experience.

But as I saw people in other locations trying to buy tickets earlier this week, I started getting nervous. It wasn't just the high prices, it was the gaming of the system that seems to be part of the Ticketmaster "flex demand" pricing.

My wife and I both signed up for the Ticketmaster Preferred program, which allowed fans to register and then in theory have a better chance of scoring tickets. Accounts were tied to a phone number and limited to the purchase of four tickets, all of which should have made the ticket buying process somewhat fair.

But when our time in the que was over and we were able to purchase tickets, my wife and I had the same experience I've seen numerous fans complain about on social media. Tickets would be available at some reasonable-ish price (say $150), then when you went in to purchase, the system tells you someone else has grabbed them. Those seats (or ones just next to them) then reappear as "available," but at a higher price. You try to get those tickets and go through the same dance again. Eventually, a few tickets are available for purchase. But now the price is $200+ for an obstructed view ticket behind the stage or $450 for a nosebleed seat as far away from the stage as possible. Add on the $50-$75 ticket Ticketmaster and facility charges and suddenly a pair of tickets as far away from the stage as is humanly possible with end up costing nearly a thousand dollars.

These prices aren't a reflection of increased overall ticket prices in the marketplace or an unusual surge in demand. Ticketmaster used to technology to squeeze every possible cent out of fans. And if they couldn't bring themselves to buy tickets today, well, Ticketmaster is more than happy to see fans tickets on its official secondary marketplace. In fact, the secondary marketplace is a win-win for Ticketmaster, which ends up getting paid a fee for both the original purchase as well as the sale on its secondary market.

I expect Ticketmaster to be as greedy as is legally possible. It's harder to see the thought process from Team Springsteen. Given the goodwill he has with fans and that this will probably be a memorable last tour with the full band, wouldn't have been better to have left fans with fond memories instead of feeling as if the Boss had scraped every possible cent out of their pockets. This is the type of strictly transactional move I would expect to see from Gene Simmons as he hawks yet another "limited edition" KI$$ bobblehead. 

Every musician deserves to make whatever money they can from fans. But there are times when the costs to your reputation aren't worth whatever "surge pricing" bucks might come your way.

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Last modified on Thursday, 21 July 2022 16:06