Bruce Springsteen Makes Ticketmaster CEO Grovel, Apologize, And Generally Feel Like Crap

Feb 5th, 2009 // 10 Comments

So after a New Jersey Congressman fired off a missive to the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division regarding Ticketmaster’s policy of dumping users to its sister reselling site, TicketsNow, once tickets to Bruce Springsteen‘s shows in the Northeast sold out, Springsteen and his manager got in on the open-letter act, too, going so far as to use the verbs “abuse” and “condemn” in regard to the sorta-scammy practice while also getting salty about the ticketing behemoth’s proposed merger with concert-promotion heavyweight Live Nation. Oh snap!

Springsteen’s letter to fans, as posted on his official site:

We know there was much confusion regarding Ticketmaster and TicketsNow during last Monday’s on-sale dates. We were as confused as you were, as we were given no advance notice of the major changes in the Ticketmaster-TicketsNow world. (Bear in mind that we are not clients of any ticketing company, and that all those arrangements are between venues and ticketing companies.)

Last Monday, we were informed that Ticketmaster was redirecting your log-in requests for tickets at face value, to their secondary site TicketsNow, which specializes in up-selling tickets at above face value. They did this even when other seats remained available at face value. We condemn this practice.

We perceive this as a pure conflict of interest. Ticketmaster is there to ensure that we have a good, fair sale of our tickets at their face value plus normal ticketing charges. TicketsNow is supposed to be a secondary site where people who already have tickets may exchange, trade, and, unfortunately, speculate with them. We have asked this redirection from Ticketmaster to TicketsNow cease and desist immediately and Ticketmaster has agreed to do so in the future and has removed its unwanted material from their and our site.

We know the many cynical arguments some make in favor of the Ticketmaster system: There are rumors that some artists or managers participate in Ticketmaster charges—we do not. There are rumors that some artists or managers are receiving a percentage of the amount above face value at secondary outlets like TicketsNow—we do not. 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.

While many of you have sent notes to us and your local promoters, you may also send accurate informational letters to Albert Lopez of Ticketmaster and he will try to address your questions.

A final point for now: 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. Several newspapers are reporting on this story right now. If you, like us, oppose that idea, you should make it known to your representatives.

The abuse of our fans and our trust by Ticketmaster has made us as furious as it has made many of you. We will continue to do our utmost now and in the future to make sure that these practices are permanently curtailed on our tours.

Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff, seeing the possibility of one of his biggest moneymakers flying away, penned his own letter, one “of Apology,” saying that in the future artists would be able to have a say in whether or not tickets to their shows would be made immediately available on secondary sites. (Yes, even artists not as big and influential as Bruce Springsteen! Uh, wait, do artists who aren’t Springsteen even sell out arenas these days?) Azoff’s full missive, which was sent through crabby music-biz observer Bob Lefsetz‘s e-mail newsletter:

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 – 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.

Sincerely,

Irving Azoff, CEO, Ticketmaster Entertainment

Translation: “Please don’t say the word ‘antitrust’ too loudly, Bruce. Please? The public opinion about our merger is bad enough, but we really need this to happen, otherwise we’re screwed.”

Bruce Springsteen [Official site]
Lefsetz Letter [lefsetz.com]
Analysis: Potential Live Nation/Ticketmaster Merger [Billboard]
Earlier: Ticketmaster Dares To Get Between A New Jersey Congressman And His Springsteen Tickets

  1. sXenester

    (Please don’t abuse this good faith gesture – we did not give brokers any preferential access to tickets.)

    Oooh, two points of contention here-
    1) Don’t abuse this? Like TM does when they send you to another arm of its company to sell tickets way above face?
    2) Do they really not give brokers preferential treatment? i want an investigation.

  2. LostTurntable

    As far as crocks of shit go, TicketsNow is pretty fucking huge. I remember when this was called was called scalping and it was fucking illegal. Of course, if Ticketmaster has it was scalping will be illegal, unless you go through a site like TicketsNow (where they get a cut). Words like “unfair business practices,” “evil” and “soulless pricks” are thrown around a lot these days, but it really applies here.

  3. Audif Jackson Winters III

    @sXenester: “2) Do they really not give brokers preferential treatment? i want an investigation. “

    I think it’s certainly possible that they may. However, there are some brokers out there who are using automated software to snatch large amounts of tickets online right when they go on sale. And Ticketmaster has actually been involved in litigation with the companies that have developed this type of software.

  4. sXenester

    @Audif Jackson Winters III: Probably because of infringement, or trying to beat them at their own game.

  5. Chris Molanphy

    If Springsteen, with his near-impeachable goodwill, finally manages to do to RipOffMaster what Pearl Jam couldn’t 15 years ago, it will rank as the single greatest use of his influence for any cause.

    No, I’m not forgetting his support of Obama and other politicians — here’s a case where he can make a real difference.

  6. King of Pants

    @Chris Molanphy: Agreed. I’m not a big Springsteen fan, but if he were to take on these fuckers? I will gladly refer to him as the Boss.

  7. Audif Jackson Winters III

    @King of Pants: Not while Tony Danza and/or Judith Light are still alive, my friend.

  8. Anonymous

    @Audif Jackson Winters III: Yeah, I figured that was the case. I think they started having people enter those weird words in order to stop that but, if anything, it just makes it harder for us mortals (“What’s that? Bruxt Taft?”) whereas the automated broker machines have already figured out a way around that.

  9. HA! Everyone worries about ticket scams; this is one right in front of our very eyes. Springsteen last 3 nights at Giants Stadium; oh wait but let’s add more!!!!!! Talk about a legendary farce by Springsteen himself for making more money. Why not promote all the shows at once so the fans don’t get robbed??!! We have people flying in from out of state to see his last show but oh wait, it’s not his last show anymore! What a crock of crap! Afraid you can’t sell out all 10 nights at once so let’s do it one by one- nothing but BS and I don’t mean Bruce Springsteen!

    So answer this, at what point will the stadium along with Mr Springsteen add more shows after the additional shows sell out? Come on now; he has played 56 sold out shows there to begin with, like he won’t sell out Oct 8th and 9th.

    Springsteen is demanding an apology from these people well I am demanding an apology and tickets to his last night at the stadium whenever that might be from Springsteen!!!!!!!

  10. Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

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