Bruce Springsteen’s “Working On A Dream” topped the weekly album charts with 224,000 first week sales according to Nielson Soundscan. But his concert fans were at the center of a controversy sparked by a Ticketmaster campaign pointing buyers to higher priced seats at their own resales broker TicketsNow even while regular seats were still available.
The fans and Springsteen camp cried fowl.
“Some artists or managers may not perceive there to be a conflict between having the distributor of their tickets in effect ‘scalping’ those same tickets through a secondary company like TicketsNow – we do,” the boss and his team wrote on his site and went on to openly oppose the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation.
“The one thing that would make the current ticket situation even worse for the fan than it is now would be Ticketmaster and Live Nation coming up with a single system, thereby returning us to a near monopoly situation in music ticketing,” wrote Springsteen and manager Jon Landau. “Several newspapers are reporting on this story right now. If you, like us, oppose that idea, you should make it known to your representatives.”
Those following the merger talks also saw the incident as a reminder of just how tricky running a vertically integrated concert, ticket and management company might be. New Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff tried to calm the tempest with this letter:
An open letter of apology to Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau and the entire Springsteen tour team:
While we were genuinely trying to do the right thing for fans in providing more choices when the tickets they requested from the primary on-sale were not available, we clearly missed the mark. Fans are confused and angry, which is the opposite of what we hoped to accomplish. We sincerely apologize to Bruce, his organization and, above all, his fans.
We recognize that we need to change our course. We have committed to Bruce and state publicly here that we have taken down all links for Bruce’s shows directing fans from Ticketmaster to TicketsNow. This redirection only occurred as a choice when we could not satisfy fans’ specific search request for primary ticket inventory, but to make sure there is no misunderstanding in the future, we also publicly state that we will never again link to TicketsNow in a manner that can possibly create any confusion during a high-demand on-sale. Specifically, we will not present an option to go to TicketsNow from Ticketmaster without the consent of the artist and the venue, both of whom work together to bring the joy of live entertainment to millions of fans.
If any fans inadvertently purchased tickets in the resale marketplace believing in error they were purchasing from the initial on-sale, we will refund the difference between the actual purchase price and the face price of the ticket. (Please don’t abuse this good faith gesture as we did not give brokers any preferential access to tickets.)
We are committed to helping deliver the most transparent and best live entertainment experience to fans. We will do better going forward.
Irving Azoff, CEO, Ticketmaster Entertainment
Azoff letter via Lefsetz.com