It’s become a new norm to wake up early and set a million alarms for a chance to score tickets to some of the world’s biggest acts. After those pesky fees are included, fans are looking at upwards of a couple hundred per ticket, especially if they want a good seat. For fans of legacy rocker Bruce Springsteen, they were greeted with an unpleasant experience when trying to buy tickets for his upcoming 2023 tour. Some of those tickets cost thousands of dollars.
Several fans took to the musician’s subreddit to express their frustration with Ticketmaster’s queue system. One fan, /u/whjoyjr, said, “Was in the queue for almost 2 hours then got the refresh and a “Session Expired” message.” Other fans complained about the exorbitant ticket prices, spurring Ticketmaster to release statistics about the costs of the tour’s tickets. According to the company, just over 88 percent of tickets were sold at face value, with the average ticket price being $202.
So what happened to those mythical $5,000 tickets? Not bots or scalpers, but Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing system is to blame. The system is supposed to weed out resellers by automatically raising the prices as demand increases, automatically lowering them if they’re still there later on. As Variety reports, Ticketmaster claimed that “prices and formats are consistent with industry standards for top performers.”
Springsteen’s longtime manager Jon Landau joined the conversation, telling The New York Times, “In pricing tickets for this tour, we looked carefully at what our peers have been doing. We chose prices that are lower than some and on par with others.”
This isn’t the first time Springsteen’s fans have had issues with the ticketing giant. In 2011, they settled a class-action lawsuit for $16.5 million filed by fans who claimed the company tricked them into buying more expensive tickets. The lawsuit was one of several filed in the wake of ticket sales for his 2009 tour. Unbeknownst to fans, they were directed to Ticketmaster’s resale site TicketsNow, where the tickets were being sold for hundreds of dollars more. The deceptive practices even got the attention of U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), who drafted the BOSS Act. The bill, which was reintroduced in 2019, would regulate the ticket market and get rid of hidden fees. The recent debacle caused him to call out Ticketmaster once again. “The market is not transparent and that’s why you have to go investigate,” Pascrell said. “We hope that this is an example of why we need to change in the ticket business, particularly in the secondary market. ”