Put Bruce Springsteen and Ticketmaster into counseling, because these two just can’t get along.
Over the last few days, another battle has escalated: after a newspaper claimed that Springsteen was withholding premium tickets from fans, the argument was reiterated by Ticketmaster chairman Barry Diller; to that Springsteen responded that Ticketmaster is “blowing smoke.”
If you’ll recall, Ticketmaster and ticket resale site TicketsNow got in hot water with fans after those wishing to purchase premium seats on the former were re-directed to the latter – even when regular-priced seats were still available. It even caused a rumble with the New Jersey Attorney General. And then there was the Washington, D.C., snafu, when the show was oversold.
However, on June 14, the Newark Star-Ledger ran an article that claimed Bruce Springsteen and his touring company Thrill Hill withheld “1,126 seats in the four sections closest to the stage… only 108 of those tickets were ever for sale to the public” for the May 21 show at the Izod Center in E. Rutherford. Through New Jersey state law, artists are only allowed to withhold 5% of seats, though what qualifies as “holds” are often up for question.
Diller, last Friday, told the New York Post: “Bruce Springsteen has been one of our most vocal critics on our ticketing policies and while he’s more than entitled to his opinion, it seems minimally fair-minded to point out that in the concert that created the fracas, where Ticketmaster apologized for making a technical mistake, it seems that Mr. Springsteen held back from his fans all but 108 of the 1,126 tickets closest to the stage.”
Jon Landau, Springsteen’s manager, told the New York Post that “the vast majority” of seats closest to the stage are sold to Springsteen fans.
Skip the weekend to today, and a full missive is posted to Springsteen’s website. “This is the same article that the Star Ledger runs whenever we do a few indoor shows in New Jersey,” it said, before and after ripping into Ticketmaster for the “fiasco.”
“In [the N.Y. Post] article, Ticketmaster’s Chairman deploys by implication Ticketmaster’s new line: despite their apology, despite the consent decree with Attorney General Milgram, and despite their testimony in Congress, the ticket catastrophe was actually Bruce’s fault. Of course, the only thing wrong with the Chairman’s spin is that it’s flatly untrue,” the post says, referring to Diller. “It’s not we who earned vastly larger sums when fans paid way over the face value of the tickets. It was Ticketmaster/TicketsNow.”
As for the Izod show: “Yes, we do hold significant numbers of tickets when we play New Jersey, New York and Los Angeles, as does every arena headliner. These holds are used by Bruce, his band members, and longtime members of his extended organization, their families and close relations; by the record label for their staff, for reviewers, and for radio stations; by charities who are provided with tickets for fund raising purposes, such as special auctions; for service people who help us on a year-round basis; and for other similar purposes.
“[W]hen we play New Jersey, our fans know that we are usually going to do more than two indoor shows in order to ensure, among other things, that during the course of a tour, Springsteen tickets will be plentiful so as many fans as possible will have a chance to get great seats (hence the five upcoming shows at Giants Stadium.) As our fans also know, we have kept all of our tickets under $100 and do all that we can to ensure that as many as possible are sold at face value.”
As much as Springsteen’s camp has “no interest in having an ongoing conflict with Ticketmaster/TicketsNow or anyone else,” this surely won’t be the last word.
Why doesn’t Springsteen just stop using Ticketmaster? Because there’s contracts and other icky deals in place that can’t be broken when he said/he said arguments break out.
What other large-scale alternative is there to Ticketmaster for artists of Springsteen’s caliber to use? Yeah, why don’t you sleep on that one… as we wait for the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger to complete.
What we really dig from this fight? Half of it was waged over old media, the good ol’ fashioned newspaper! Print’s not dead, it’s just sleeping!
In case you’re not mad at Bruce, he plays five Giants Stadium shows at the end of the summer.