That’s what some fans experienced when they purchased, or tried to purchase, tickets for the six Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band 2023 U.S. arena tour concerts that went on sale last week.
The price of some floor seats rose to more than $4,000 because of Ticketmaster’s “dynamic pricing” system, which adjusts the price in real time based on demand.
“I assume when Bruce shouts ‘Is anybody alive out there?’ on the next tour, it will be more of a medical check-in on those who had to sell a kidney to be able to afford tickets,” one fan quipped on Twitter.
“(Springsteen) we love you, but Ticketmaster is just scalping true fans!” another tweeted.
But statistics released Sunday by Ticketmaster show 88% of Springsteen fans were able to buy the tickets at face value. Prices for arena shows ranged from $40 to $399 before service fees, and the average ticket price was $202.
Dynamic pricing, also called “platinum seats,” “enables supply-and-demand pricing (adjusting prices according to supply and demand) for live event tickets, similar to how airline tickets and hotel rooms are sold,” Ticketmaster’s website says.
Ticketmaster said 11.8% of Springsteen tickets were designated platinum, and just 1.3% of tickets across all shows sold for more than $1,000. More than half (56%) of tickets sold for less than $200: 18% were less than $99, 27% between $100 and $150, and 11% between $150 and $200.
The Springsteen ticket prices are in accordance with industry norms for similar acts. Paul McCartney’s recent Got Back and Harry Styles tours used dynamic pricing, and ticket costs went into the thousands.
Prices and formats are consistent with industry standards for top performers, according to Ticketmaster. A representative for Springsteen and the E Street Band had no comment.
Until now, Springsteen had held the line on ticket price cost. The pricing of the last E Street Band tour in 2016 and 2017 was below the industry average at $68 to $150 for a typical arena show.
“I kind of wish he put a cap on it, or said, ‘I’m not comfortable with doing that,’ ” says Brandon Thompson, editor of the Blog It All NightSpringsteen news site. “The dynamic pricing has gotten a little out of control with how demand is going.”
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, who has previously introduced legislation on the matter, called for Ticketmaster to adjust its policies.
“When Yogi Berra said it’s déjà vu all over again, he could have easily been talking about Ticketmaster and another unwelcome surprise for Springsteen fans,” said Pascrell in a July 21 statement. “After the long hiatus, we are all excited that Bruce is going back (on) tour. But 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.”
Pascrell introduced the BOSS Act, an acronym for “Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing,” back in 2009. It hasn’t passed.
“The fact is that multi-billion dollar live events ticket marketplace cries out for reform. The BOSS ACT legislation I have previously introduced would bring much needed transparency to sale, pricing and distribution of live event tickets,” said Pascrell, who noted he expects to reintroduce the bill.
In response, Ticketmaster said in a statement it was “supportive of industry-wide reforms to bring more clarity to ticket buyers and believe more can be done to aid artists in delivering their tickets to fans at price points they determine” and noted the company had “worked collaboratively with New York policymakers to enact a new law that adds important new protections and transparency for fans.”
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