Bruce Springsteen fans outraged over ‘dynamic pricing’ of concert tickets with prices hitting $5,000

Tickets for Bruce Springsteen's upcoming tour have skyrocketed in price.

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Tickets for Bruce Springsteen's upcoming tour have skyrocketed in price.

Ticketmaster said 88.8% of tickets are fixed and 1.3% have been sold for $1,000 or more.

Rock legend Bruce Springsteen has positioned himself over the decades as a man of the people, the voice for the blue-collar worker.

But he decided to accept “dynamic pricing” for some of his tickets for his upcoming 2023 tour, which means ticket prices shift based on supply and demand like airline tickets. It’s not a new concept, but when some tickets that went on sale last week rose to $4,000 to $5,000, even hardcore fans balked.

“Given how much he has so tightly controlled his image over the past 50 years, I can’t believe he’d do this,” said Billy Planer, a 55-year-old Decatur owner of a non-profit educational organization who has seen Springsteen more than 100 times going back to 1984′s “Born in the USA” stop at the Omni. “How much profit is enough profit?”

While Springsteen himself has not uttered a word, his management and Ticketmaster this week came out with responses to try to calm the waters.

Ticketmaster Tuesday said only 11.2% of tickets so far have been subject to “dynamic pricing” via its “platinum program” and more than 88% of customers were able to pick up tickets at a set price, ranging from $59.50 to $399 before various fees, which could add more than 20% to the cost in and of itself. Only 1.3% of tickets, Ticketmaster said, have sold for $1,000 or more.

“Prices and formats are consistent with industry standards for top performers,” the company said in a statement.

The average price of all tickets sold so far is $262, with 56% being sold for under $200 face value. “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,” said Springsteen’s manager Jon Landau in a statement released the same day to The New York Times.

Planer said plenty of fans go on places like Stubhub resigned to the fact they may pay multiple times face value for a ticket. But with dynamic pricing, “what is even face value?” he said.

Tickets for the State Farm Arena date in Atlanta on Feb. 3, 2023 went on sale for fans Wednesday morning for those who signed up for the “Verified Fan” lottery system and were able to get a special code to even access tickets five hours before the general public. This type of set up has been around for years to try to blunt the impact of scalping.

Third-party resellers on places like Stubhub and Vivid Seats often will price the best seats for high-demand artists at $1,000 or more, but these dynamically priced tickets are coming straight from Ticketmaster. The concept is to divert profit from the scalpers and place it back in the pockets of the artist and Ticketmaster itself.

Jimmy Baron, 60, a former morning host for 99X who used to rave about Springsteen on air and is now a successful real estate agent, said this is an insult to die-hard fans like him. He has seen “The Boss” more than 50 times in his life all over the country. He is also skeptical of Ticketmaster’s spin doctoring.

“Artists should not be in the business of scalping their own tickets,” Baron said. Third-party brokers are a necessary evil in the business and are basically hated but as he noted, “now fans simply turn their anger on the artists themselves. It’s so incredibly shortsighted.”

Larry Haber, a 56-year-old Springsteen fan from Atlanta who has seen him 35 to 40 times, said he was able to get a verified access code for the Greensboro, North Carolina, concert but was irritated Ticketmaster wouldn’t tell him the ticket price until he placed tickets into the virtual shopping cart. He reserved a higher priced ticket, then found a couple of cheaper ones, but he couldn’t go back or he’d lose all three tickets. So he purchased them all and later sold the higher priced single ticket at face value via Ticketmaster’s internal resale system used to compete with the Stubhubs of the world.

He was curious about the inflated platinum prices and found one Tuesday going for more than $4,000 for the Philadelphia concert that wasn’t even anywhere near the front row. The extra fees exceeded $500 and to add insult to injury, he said, the service added $2 just to get a mobile version of the ticket.

The promoter told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the morning Springsteen tickets went on sale there, 90,000 people were in queue to try to nab tickets at Wells Fargo Center, where the capacity is just 19,500.

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Sample platinum price for a seat for the Bruce Springsteen Philadelphia concert in 2023 that exceeded $4,000. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Sample platinum price for a seat for the Bruce Springsteen Philadelphia concert in 2023 that exceeded $4,000. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Combined ShapeCaption
Sample platinum price for a seat for the Bruce Springsteen Philadelphia concert in 2023 that exceeded $4,000. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Haber didn’t expect demand to be nearly as strong in Atlanta and was able to easily procure four tickets at $159.50 each on the second level not far from the stage Wednesday morning. Service fees resulted in tickets costing him just under $200 apiece.

Mike Rose, an Atlanta mortgage broker, said he tried to get tickets but by the time he got access at 10:40 p.m., the cheapest available tickets on Ticketmaster were more than $1,000 so he passed. As of 10:51 p.m., 51 minutes after tickets went on sale, top platinum dynamically priced tickets hit $2,450 before fees. Later in the day, he checked “resale” tickets on Ticketmaster and nabbed the cheapest seats he could find for $157 face value plus fees. “Terrible seats, but he often will play to the crowd behind him,” Rose said. “Decent seats are ridiculous.”

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Top priced Springsteen tickets for State Farm Arena 50 minutes after tickets went on sale for "verified buyers" on July 27, 2022. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Top priced Springsteen tickets for State Farm Arena 50 minutes after tickets went on sale for "verified buyers" on July 27, 2022. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Combined ShapeCaption
Top priced Springsteen tickets for State Farm Arena 50 minutes after tickets went on sale for "verified buyers" on July 27, 2022. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Dynamic pricing has been around for concerts for a few years with acts like Taylor Swift, the Eagles and U2 using it in the past, but it seems prices have never risen this high before.

Planer thinks the demand spike was a “perfect storm” of several factors. Springsteen hasn’t toured in seven years, an unusually long gap for him. (He last appeared in concert in Atlanta at what was then Philips Arena in February of 2016.) Plus, he’s 72 and this could be the last time he tours with his longtime E Street crew. And hard-core Springsteen fans were eager to grab what they could immediately, causing the “dynamic prices” to skyrocket.

Planer was able to nab tickets in the pit at the Tulsa, Oklahoma, concert that is scheduled for Feb. 21, 2023, for $800, which was more than he would have liked to have paid. “I panicked,” he said. Since last week, prices for comparable pit tickets have eased back to $575 as of Tuesday night. And there are plenty of $89.50 tickets available in Tulsa in the upper levels.

He said he’s resigned to the fact this might be the only time he sees Springsteen this run, but it may be dependent on how prices are closer to the actual concert dates early next year. And he does expect Springsteen to add more dates on a second leg of the tour later in 2023. “I’m hoping the market will crash later on,” he said.

For now, demand remains robust on the secondary market. According to TicketIQ, which tracks ticket pricing, the average Springsteen ticket on places like Stubhub exceeds $1,300, triple the average price from the 2016 tour.