How to justify soaring Bruce Springsteen ticket prices

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MBW Reacts is a series of short comments from the MBW team. These are our “rapid” reactions – through a music industry lens – to major entertainment news. The following editorial comes from Eamonn Forde (inset photo), longtime music industry journalist and author of The Final Days of EMI: Selling the Pig. His new book, Leaving The Building: The Lucrative Afterlife of Music Estates, is available now through Omnibus Press.


There was, inevitably, plenty of pearly outrage when it was discovered that some tickets — not all — to see Bruce Springsteen on his 2023 US tour would cost up to $5,000 each on the day they went on sale.

There were also, inevitably, accusations of blatant hypocrisy that Springsteen, the daring blue-collar ballad, set ticket prices at a level that worked at 13.47% of the average annual salary in the United States the very people he sings about.

This real-time, demand-driven “dynamic pricing” was downplayed by Ticketmaster, who said only a fraction of tickets were sold at this price anyway, sharply pointing out that 88% of tickets were sold at their value. nominal and that the average ticket price was $202.

Springsteen’s longtime manager Jon Landau say it New York Times“Regardless of the comment about a modest number of tickets costing $1,000 or more, our true average ticket price has been around $200. I believe in today’s environment, that’s a fair price to pay to see someone universally considered one of the greatest artists of his generation.

A slew of columns and opinion pieces were rushed through – sometimes even by people paying out of pocket to attend concerts! – how shocking and shameful it all was, where fandom was being crushed in the dead-eyed race for profit, and why the live industry had lost control of itself.

An obvious question, however, has not been asked.

Let’s just hang in disbelief at all of this for a minute and ask: if a large band is going to charge $5,000 for tickets, what might the fan receive to justify such an expense?

By all means, charge $5,000 (or more) for a ticket if you want to, but only if you make sure the buyer feels what they’re getting in return is worth it.

To get the ball rolling for #TeamBruce, I have a few ideas that I’ll reveal here as a ten-step value validator.

I have calculated the prices for each component where the fan can create their own $5000 ticket.

Ticketing companies can justify it as a new kind of “interactive” and “immersive” experience where fans have to scramble to grab all the components that make their $5,000 feel like money well spent.


1. Exceptional seats ($1,000 – $2,000)

If the average ticket price is $202, surely it follows that a $5,000 ticket should be exactly 24.75 times better than John Q Public and its “average” seat. The best seat in the house (the indisputable $5,000 seat) is clearly on Springsteen’s shoulders as he growls and sweats through his incredible hits like “Gloria’s Eyes”, “Used Cars” and “The Big Muddy”. . This is unfortunately not practical. So we’re going to downgrade a bit and charge $2000 to sit in the middle of the stage (seat provided) or $1000 to sit on the edge of the stage (bring your own cushion).


2. Access to premium drinks and snacks ($200 per beer, $941 per bottle of wine, $67 for zero-proof spirits + $30 for mixers; eight hot sandwiches for $200)

No flat $10 Budweiser for those guys in the big seats. It’s only The Utopias of Samuel Adams Where Tusk Estate Cabernet Sauvignon being served. For non-drinkers, there is Rasasvada. As for “nibbles”, who doesn’t want to see “The Boss” snacking on a small plate of hot sandwiches? Nobody, who is it.


3. Access to interpreter ($2,500)

If someone has the audacity to charge $5,000 for a concert ticket, the least they can do is meet the person who paid that much money so they can look the pop star in question straight. in the eyes (for more than a minute of uninterrupted gaze) .


4. A professional film crew to record random snippets of the performance ($2,000)

A three-person film crew will be by your side throughout the performance and will film in high resolution any moment of the show (in 67-second bursts) that you ask them to. They will guarantee that they just miss the moment when they sing your favorite lyrics and stop recording halfway through the chorus. It saves you from having to do it yourself and you can post a recording to Facebook and never watch others again.


5. A legally binding guarantee that no one near you will talk during the show and drown out the performance with their nonsensical ramblings or get the lyrics wrong when they sing out of tune ($1,500)

To be fair, most people at most gigs today would pay for this upgrade within three minutes of the act taking the stage because they realize they have picked the worst spot in the room, with the worst concert neighbors, but they’re stuck there now. .


6. The ability to choose the entire setlist in advance ($4,999)

No one wants to hear a “new” or minor hit that includes a terrible tween of “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” (topical). This way you can hear exactly what you want in the order you want.


7. The option to skip a song ($1,500)

Don’t want to waste all the money dictating the setlist? You get a tough option to skip a terrible song you don’t want to hear, like you do on a Spotify or Apple Music playlist. The only clause is that you must press the “kill” button (using your seat armrest keypad) within 30 seconds, otherwise it counts as a “game” and the act must complete it.


8. The right to obtain the act of replaying a song ($1,750)

Acts sometimes throw their best songs in the middle of the set. You might have gone to the bathroom and missed it. Or you just want to hear it again. Grab the keyboard (in the armrest of your seat) and press “play again”. This option is only good for a song to be played once more.


9. A seat at the next board meeting of the ticketing company, agent or promoter where you can ask them to give a presentation explaining why it is completely acceptable and normal to charge $5,000 for a concert ticket (free)

They already don’t care about their prices, so that’s the least they can do.


10. A Refund When An Act Plays Over Two Hours Without People – nobody – must remain seated during such a long gig (-$55.55 per minute)

By the end of an average Bruce Springsteen show (3.5 hours), he might end up having to you $5,000.The music industry around the world

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