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