I have been a Bruce Springsteen fan for most of my adult life. I began my business career as a ticket broker in Chicago in the 1970s which afforded me the luxury of acquiring the best seats to ALL the now classic concerts for resale as well as for personal attendance in the days before digital ticketing. A review of my resume that includes my history of selling rock and roll memorabilia as well as concert tickets to which I literally wrote the book on it here in Chicago can be found at one of our sister sites at rock-expo.com.
My first Springsteen shows came in a “block” in the Fall of 1980 when Bruce toured the double LP “THE RIVER”. I saw BOTH Uptown Theatre shows in October of that year, arguably the hottest shows of that tour as that was the smallest house played on it. Then 3 shows at the still brand new Rosemont Horizon in November culminating with a final show at Bruce’s home arena in Philadelphia at the Spectrum (no Meadowlands built yet) where I vividly remember him introducing family members in the crowd. After seeing multiple shows prior to Philly, set list varied a little but not much so the encore to the over 4 hour show seemed a little more intense, a little more almost desperate as we filed out of the “bowl” and out into the December night where I never went from being SO HIGH to SO LOW in literally seconds as the night was December 8th 1980. There was a hatchback opened car with a speaker blaring the news John Lennon had been shot. Months later I read in Rolling Stone Magazine that Bruce was told between encores Lennon was shot, ironically at about the same time Bruce was performing the song POINT BLANK off the new LP near the end of the set, around 10 minutes to 11:00 EST and it explained his intensity in GUNNING THE ENCORE then sending us out to confront that horrific reality.
Over the next few years, demand for Springsteen rock n roll MEMORABILIA dwindled to nothing without media attention, he released a dark moody acoustic LP in 1982 called Nebraska and then came the triumphant BORN IN THE USA in summer of 1984 spawning MULTIPLE hits. Thru the ensuing decades I went to MANY MORE shows but my point is ticket demand for those shows, and the accompanying memorabilia, varied greatly from tour to tour, directly related to pre social media network promotion thru the original TV RADIO and newspaper access and the current uproar over the exorbitant ticket prices (article below) reflects that stark reality in the brave new world of ticket sales thru mega platforms Stub Hub and Ticket Network and Vivid seats among others where brokers merely score the seats to list and rarely even know ultimately who the buyers are and multiple entities thru out the transaction process extract fees for the privilege.
As we see the dynamic pricing concept adopted more and more in many facets of our economy we see the what I call the “CONSTRICTOR” reality of capitalism. The mentality of a fair profit is muted by the desperate desire to make “THE SCORE” or better defined make the most money on every transaction thru complete control of the service. Ticket brokers traditionally filled a service void that the stacked deck ticketing companies failed to address. Even in the day, first in line at the outlets spread out thru the Midwest got the best seats which created a cottage industry of ticket brokers that thrived in hyperlocal markets prior to the advent of social media and the MEGA PLATFORMS. Now it is a game of numbers decreed by shadow algorithms dictating real time values on rotating seating stock creating lopsided unrealistic valuations and MAJOR confusion
As a former ticket broker, I endured the nicknames like Cochise the scalper and others as I simply bought tickets to resell, but in theory what risk did I ultimately take other than purchase price plus fees and in some cases extra juice on seats?? I did not transport the stage, insure it, set it up and tear it down paying the salaries of the support personnel or the band or promotion costs. Yet I inserted myself in the resale process without incurring that risk cannabilizing the revenue stream at the expense of the band IN THEORY. This is what Ticketmaster is trying to do here, regain control of that revenue stream from secondary ticket sales via whore based LOPSIDED so called dynamic pricing models (something brokers charging fixed price tickets on the platforms do not do) and we hope the monster money charged over the face price their “models” charge DOES GO BACK to the artist.
It is a sad commentary on the state of the ticket industry that a monopolistic player like Ticketmaster can force this horiontal and vertical integration in the pricing of tickets on the public on the hottest bands most desired and with Bruce just having sold the rights to his catalogue and PUBLISHING RIGHTS to CBS SONY for 500M he is quickly losing his workingman persona under this ticketing disaster spotlight (Podcast with Obama probably didn’t help either but that is YOUR CALL)
Many bands now offer VIP ticket packages that allow for a full revenue capture back to the band for the best seats and swag directly from the fans but this BRUCE PR disaster does not incorporate that access. Ironic Bruce DOES SELL live concerts direct to fans. Did you know someone cybersquatted brucespringsteen.com which is why brucespringsteen.net is his web destination?
For the record I DID incur ALL THE RISK for a concert to resell ALL THE TICKETS once in my life and can honestly say I have been selling out stadiums for decades, there was just no one in them. 🙂 And it garnered me a Guinness World Record. I sold them all also and as of this writing am awaiting decision from Guinness on award for SELLING THE MOST TICKETS by an individual. And of course THE ONLY BAND I could have done this with was LED ZEPPELIN. So, I have a little street cred in this industry 🙂