Bruce Springsteen: Ticketmaster’s Dynamic Pricing Drives Prices Up

For over a week now, thousands of Bruce Springsteen fans looking to grab tickets to the E Street Band concerts scheduled for winter 2023 have been welcomed to the Ticketmaster site with this memo that includes all of The Warning.

What is this trick? Since when do ticket prices fluctuate, except, of course, when unscrupulous dealers get their hands on them for music lovers?

Welcome to Ticketmaster’s new reality called dynamic pricing (dynamic pricing), which caused a dissatisfaction never seen towards the boss since the beginning of his career.

Sales Process

Before we move on, it’s important to take a break here to properly explain the sales process that led to this situation. When the concerts were announced through Springsteen’s social networks two weeks ago, fans who already had a Ticketmaster account were invited to sign up for the Verified Fan system. It’s a system that’s been around for years, and Springsteen even used it in 2017 to sell tickets for his New York residency. Springsteen on Broadway.

Internet users now only had to check off the list of concerts – 1, 3, 10 – they wanted to attend, in order of preference. The day before the first sale, scheduled for July 20, all duly registered members – or not – received an access code that acts as a password for the concerts they were chosen for.

How is the selection made? Algorithm? Residence? History of shows seen (Ticketmaster knows how many tickets you have bought for a particular artist)? We ignore it. Among my group of friends, some were given access codes for their first choice, but others for their fourth or fifth. In the end, it’s a lot like a lottery.

On the day of sale in a particular city, code holders could purchase tickets from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time. I was given one of these codes for the city of my choice and was able to access the tickets eight minutes after the sale started. At the time – similar to the Bell Center – the ticket price was about US$500 (CA$640) for a seat on the sides of the stage, about US$335 (almost US$430 CA) at mid-ice , and US$250 (CA$320) in the corners.

It kind of looked like a 2020 fee schedule for a rock veteran concert from the 60s and 70s. But again, I entered the site at the eighth minute. Gold, tickets have an average price of US$213 (CA$273) – according to what the magazine revealed Billboard – there weren’t any more. The dynamic pricing process was clearly already underway.

The open-to-all sale — no code — followed at 3 p.m. in all markets, but by then there were usually only multi-thousand US platinum tickets left or a handful of seats under US$100 (CA$130) for backstage seating. .

Fighting dealers?

Faced with the disgrace caused by these sales, Ticketmaster released figures last Sunday suggesting that platinum tickets represented only 1.3% of sales, that only 11.2% of tickets sold for more than US$1,000 (CA $1,280) and the rest of the tickets were sold for an amount excluding service charges ranging from US$59.99 to US$399 (approximately CA$77 and CA$511). Average price of tickets sold: US$262 (CA$335).

The American giant defended itself by saying that its pricing policy is no different from that in the airline industry or in the hotel industry during the peak season. A matter of supply and demand, ultimately. He also clarified that the portion of VIP Platinum tickets offered at each of the 31 concerts that will take place from February 1 in Tampa to April 14, 2023 in Newark is a way to fight against resellers and second-hand ticket sites. hand, insofar as the amounts generated by these sales remain acquired by the promoter and the artist.

I fell backwards…

If I understand correctly, it is now Ticketmaster itself that is picking music lovers rather than evil resellers. From a consumer point of view, we can’t say that much is changing, can we?

The reality is that Ticketmaster is benefiting more than ever from its monopoly status in the United States, which was strengthened over more than a decade after the company’s merger with Live Nation, the largest concert promoter in North America.

Bruce Springsteen on stage

Photo: Flickr

Artificial Rise

It should be understood that the Verified Fan system is really just a presale that aims to artificially inflate prices because of this dynamic pricing. Think about it… You set up a system where the price fluctuates according to demand and you make tickets scarce at the source by launching a presale.

No one but Ticketmaster knows how many codes are sent to registered fans, but I’ll bet on my original vinyl from Darkness on the Edge of the City, from Springsteen, that this number far exceeds the number of seats available in each arena where the tour will take place. Some enthusiasts succeed if they find the asking price too high. But let’s face it, when the general sale starts without restrictions, at 3 p.m., all good tickets are sold at, say, reasonable prices. Scarcity effect. Fewer offers than requests. Prices are going up. Economy 101.

It’s all the more damaging that this first leg of a two-year tour, of course, offers only one-of-a-kind concerts, apart from the Long Island double. Nothing to do with the E Street Band tours of 1992 or 1999, which started with residencies of 15 and 20 concerts in a row at the Devils and Nets arena in New Jersey.

Just one concert in New York, in Houston, in Philadelphia, and so on… And Ticketmaster tells us without laughing that the tickets at market price? It is so obvious that an economics student in the first semester at university already knows the principle.

In short, this dynamic pricing resembles a constantly rising market in the stock market, with amateurs experiencing an overbid for tickets, similar to what we’ve seen for months for the purchase of a home in the real estate market.

Springsteen accused

If Ticketmaster and its politics are responsible for this situation, should Springsteen be acquitted? Absolutely not.

Tell yourself that Ticketmaster has not sold VIP tickets without the artist’s permission, that goes without saying. And with over 6 million people signing up for Bruce Springsteen’s official Facebook account, I’d be surprised if the New Jersey resident wasn’t aware of the anger going on.

Even Steven Van Zandt, his friend from the E Street Band, very active on social networks, had to post on Twitter: I have absolutely nothing to do with ticket prices. What is true. In this regard, the Boss earns its nickname.

Manager Jon Landau defended his foal by declaring to the New York Times that when preparing the price list for this tour, they carefully researched what their peers are doing. Springsteen has always sold his tickets far less than the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and even U2. So that’s the bottom of the story.

That said, can Springsteen sell his tickets for any price he wants? All the way. No one is forced to buy it. It’s still ironic to see this pricing controversy arise in 2022, 50 years after the founding of the first incarnation of the E Street Band. I imagine the young, bearded, rambunctious and carefree Bruce of the 1970s asking his contemporary equivalent a few questions.

Serious? Are some tickets sold at the average price of a new car from 1972? Was that the goal?

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