Irate Springsteen fans: Here's how to speak out against Ticketmaster
The Springsteen ticket brouhaha of the past week raises a lot of unpleasant questions about Bruce's relationship with his longtime fanbase, not the least of which is, why hasn't he addressed the very public fleecing of would-be concertgoers that's made national headlines? Here are just a few:
Variety: Bruce Springsteen Fans Furious at Ticket Prices Going as High as $4-5K, Due to Ticketmaster’s ‘Dynamic Pricing’
CBS News: Ticketmaster's 'dynamic ticket pricing' has Bruce Springsteen tickets going for $4,000
Parade Magazine: Bruce Springsteen Fans Outraged as Concert Tickets Surge to $4K-5K
Etc. And as I opined on Twitter, when you've lost Parade Magazine, you've lost America.
It's a shocking situation given that this is the guy who apologized for releasing a Greatest Hits package exclusively in Walmart, for crying out loud. For those of you who weren't paying close attention back in 2009, here's what he said to the New York Times about that decision: "We just dropped the ball on it. It was a mistake. Our batting average is usually very good, but we missed that one. Fans will call you on that stuff, as it should be."
Well, fans are certainly calling Springsteen on the dynamic pricing fiasco, disparaging him on Twitter and in usually effusively positive Facebook groups, and even making dynamic pricing jokes when Bruce stopped by a local lemonade stand.
Then there was Bobby Olivier's provocatively titled op-ed at NJ.com, "Bruce Springsteen does not care about you," which ended with this bon mot:
The divide between supporters will continue to grow, as some fans will accept that the unparalleled E Street Band live experience is no longer meant for them, while others will continue to act under the delusion that an artist living on his sprawling Colts Neck horse farm somehow remains a populist rocker with their interests at heart — truly his most brilliant disguise.
Ouch. Word from Bruce or at least Springsteen Inc. is likely to happen in some way, shape or form at some point, and we can address whether it makes us feel any better when that happens. (Olivier actually makes a convincing argument that Bruce & Co. may not have realized how quickly or how much prices would skyrocket, but that's cold comfort to those left out or who are markedly poorer for having bit the bullet and shelled out for tix. Still, we'd like to hear it from the horse's mouth anyway. So to speak.)
One question that we can all agree has an obvious answer, though, is whether Ticketmaster should be allowed to engage in dynamic pricing in the first place — and the answer is a resounding "no." It's annoying enough when they raise airfare and hotel rates based on demand, but let's face it, it should cost less to fly to Duluth. Who wants to go there? But the idea that tickets to the most popular music acts should only be available to the well-heeled seems downright un-American. (Or maybe all too American — it's like someone bombarded capitalism with gamma rays and now it's stomping all over us.)
This is especially true given that Ticketmaster, through Verified Fan, is actually controlling the popularity of a given event, effectively goosing the algorithm so as to inflate prices to the maximum extent possible, as explained in this informative essay by Kevin Farrell at Bruce Funds.
But don't take our word for it — here's what U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey, a longtime Ticketmaster critic, had to say:
Americans have the right to enjoy some live entertainment without getting ripped off. Ticketmaster sees popular events as an opportunity to soak regular Americans. My colleagues and I are hearing from irate customers who are fed up, and the New Jersey and New York dates aren’t even on sale yet. Fans should know exactly what they are getting into before getting involved with an always high stress concert ticket sale.
Pascrell has at least a partial solution in the (now ironically named?) BOSS Act, which he introduced in 2019 and which would, he says, "bring much needed transparency to sale, pricing and distribution of live event tickets." Transparency isn't necessarily full-fledged reform, but it's a start.
So what can you do? First, head here to find out the contact information for your U.S. representative, and get in touch (ideally by phone, but email works too). Tell them you want them to support the BOSS Act when Rep. Pascrell reintroduces it in Congress this year, and to go even further by capping prices allowed by the dynamic pricing model or outlawing it all together. Make sure to tell them that you're a one-issue voter and this is that issue. (OK, that might be a little extreme, but it's worth a shot.)
In the end, Bruce may somehow still make good on his end of this deal, or at least acknowledge that some fans got the short end of the ticket stick and that that's not cool. But it would be nice if next time, he didn't even have the option.