Stop the voting. It’s only Thursday, but we have our winner for least surprising story of the week. From NJ.com yesterday:
Bobby Olivier dug into this latest crisis that has Bruce Springsteen diehards up in arms. He explained how the best seats for early shows on the Boss’ 2023 tour were going for these prices because of Ticketmaster’s “Official Platinum” seat program.
It didn’t take long for Springsteen fans to rebrand this Ticketmaster’s “Legal Scalping Program.” Whatever you call it, it’s just the latest iteration of a rigged game that never runs out of suckers.
To be clear, this is not about Springsteen’s music, his right to make money or whether he has forgotten the working men and women who are trying like hell to make him a billionaire before he takes his rest. I like his music and love his live shows. I’ve probably seen him 20 times, and I’d love to see him again. He’ll be better at 73 next year than most acts are in their prime. But at some point, he has to put his fans above his partnership with Ticketmaster and its owner of the past dozen years, Live Nation.
They are bad people doing bad things, and whether the Boss agrees it’s a tacit endorsement or not, his name and reputation are being used to soak his fans. What’s especially maddening is that we’ve been down this road before.
Need a refresher? The clips never lie, so here’s a taste of Ticketmaster’s awful past with Springsteen fans — even before Live Nation took over.
Yes, Springsteen did condemn the abuses back in 2009. That’s when Ticketmaster was directing fans to a site for secondary sales (read: scalper prices) even though plenty of tickets were available on the company’s main branded site.
Hey, why charge $100 — before fees!! — when you can get $400 for the same ticket?
That was more than 13 years ago and not long before Ticketmaster settled a complaint with Springsteen fans over its deceptive practices. In a statement at the time, the Boss and his manager, John Landau, expressed dire concerns about a proposed Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger. Such a deal, the statement said, would create a “near monopoly.”
Eleven months later, the marriage went through, thanks to countless hollow assurances the companies made government regulators.
So what happened next?
And it’s only getting worse, no matter your taste in music or the various hoops we now jump through to chase tickets. If you want to see a big act, you’re likely at the mercy of Ticketmaster, which less than four years ago was broadsided by this Rolling Stone blockbuster:
The beat goes on, too. In March, a group of U.S. Senators renewed calls for the Department of Justice to investigate Live Nation’s practices. They simply picked up on much of the work done by U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, who, like Springsteen, is a working man from Jersey.
The abuses have gotten so bad, even John Oliver had to take a dive four months ago.
What, you were expecting better when Springsteen tickets went on sale?
So, no, you won’t find me in Tampa, Seattle or Barcelona for this tour. There’s just too much history to ignore. I’ll make do with my memories and be happy for those of you who do score tickets.
Maybe there’ll be another statement from the Boss, or maybe he’ll draw a line and stop the insanity.
Remember his 2009 condemnation of Ticketmaster? Here’s the closing from that release:
“The abuse of our fans and our trust by Ticketmaster has made us as furious as it has made many of you,” Landau and Springsteen said. “We will continue to do our utmost now and in the future to make sure that these practices are permanently curtailed on our tours.”
If he needs some encouragement, the Boss can find it from another longtime Jersey resident and philosopher: Albert Einstein. He’s the one who’s often credited with defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Kevin Whitmer is a strategic communications/digital media and marketing expert who is President of Whitmer Consulting LLC. He spent more than 30 years managing large news operations and building digital audiences.
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