Bruce Springsteen fans have been asking to hear from the artist or his camp directly in the wake of a firestorm over extremely variable ticket costs for a 2023 U.S. tour that has gone on sale last week and this week. On Tuesday, six days into the controversy over “platinum” ticket prices — which had initially gone as high as $4,000-5,000 — Springsteen’s manager, Jon Landau, spoke up to defend the way the ticketing had rolled out.
“In pricing tickets for this tour, we looked carefully at what our peers have been doing,” Landau said in a statement given to the New York Times’ “Your Money” columnist, Ron Lieber. “We chose prices that are lower than some and on par with others.”
Landau’s statement continued, “Regardless of the commentary about a modest number of tickets costing $1,000 or more, our true average ticket price has been in the mid-$200 range. I believe that in today’s environment, that is a fair price to see someone universally regarded as among the very greatest artists of his generation.”
The official defense from Springsteen’s manager came two days after Ticketmaster — which has taken a lot of the heat from fans — issued statistics to Variety indicating that the majority of tickets that had already been sold, 88.8%. had been sold at fixed values of $60-400 before fees, considered reasonable in the current market. The Ticketmaster stats showed only 11.2% of tickets had been “platinum tickets” subject to the skyrocketing costs that raised fans’ ire.
Ticketmaster further said that the average price of all tickets sold in this first three days of on-sales was $262. The service reported that a majority of tickets, 56%, were priced at under $200.
But, of course, many fans have fixated on the “dynamically priced” tickets that are left over and come up in a search after the fixed-priced tickets all sell out in the first hour or so each time an on-sale occurs. Ticketmaster has not provided any average amounts for those tickets, but social media has been filled for the last six days with anecdotal reports and screen shots of tickets being offered for as much as 10 times the value of the fixed prices.
Sources contend that Ticketmaster is not responsible for setting ticket pricing, despite assumptions of an algorithm setting what can sometimes look like arbitrary prices for the platinum seats, and that all the prices are set by local promoters in coordination with artist reps.
Variety examined tickets that went on sale in several cities Friday and saw that, although top prices for platinum tickets had calmed down from top levels of about $4,000-5,000 to a peak of around $2,500 in several cities surveyed, the average cost of a platinum ticket in one city, Greensboro, NC, amounted to $903.39, before additional fees.
So the debate will continue to narrow down to whether fans see the glass as half-reasonable, with the reported $262 average price for all tickets, or half-outrageous, with the “dynamic” tickets that most fans see when they log in coming in closer to $1,000 on average, however small a piece of the pie those might represent.
It isn’t clear how much attention the Springsteen camp has been paying to the uproar, which has been magnified more because of Springsteen’s populist image than it might be if the Rolling Stones or Paul McCartney were offering platinum tickets at amounts in the thousands. But if anyone were going to offer Landau any advice, it might be: If you haven’t been reading the comments, don’t start now.