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The Case of the $5,000 Springsteen Tickets


Since then, Ticketmaster, which is handling a lot of the U.S. shows on Mr. Springsteen’s tour next 12 months, has tried to wear the white hat, not less than a number of the time. In an interview in May on a podcast called “The Compound & Friends,” Michael Rapino, the chief executive of Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, noted that many tickets for the perfect concert events and other events had a much higher street value the moment Ticketmaster sold them. Why shouldn’t an artist capture most of that excess? Prices which can be too low open the door for scalpers to earn more money — via the profit they gain from selling on the true market price — than performers make themselves.

If artists do wish to capture that, Ticketmaster is ready to assist — and to take a fee for doing so. And that’s what Mr. Springsteen gave the impression to be doing here, using Ticketmaster’s “Official Platinum” system, wherein seats are “dynamically priced up and down based on demand.”

You already know what happened next: Those platinum prices were plenty pricey. Outrage ensued. A congressman from Recent Jersey yelled into the wind.

“This broke our spirit,” said Pete Maimone, an actual estate agent in North Brunswick, N.J., who coordinates a face-value-only ticket exchange for longtime fans. He has shut it down for now, he told me, while fighting back tears. “We didn’t wish to participate any longer on this clear-as-day scheme to extract money from fans,” he said.

Over the weekend, in an try and quiet things down, Mr. Springsteen’s camp gave Ticketmaster permission to release some numbers. Just 1.3 percent of Ticketmaster users paid greater than $1,000 per ticket. Also, 88.2 percent of tickets were “sold at set prices,” based on Ticketmaster, though the remaining 11.8 percent are more likely to represent greater than 11.8 percent of the revenue per show, owing to their higher face value.

Who set these prices? “Promoters and artist representatives set pricing strategy and price range parameters on all tickets, including dynamic and stuck price points,” a Ticketmaster spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “When there are way more individuals who wish to attend an event than there are tickets available, prices go up.”

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