THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Springsteen/Ticketmaster

What's worse, overpaying to be inside the building or not being able to go to the show at all?

I've got no desire to get involved in the pissing match between Ticketmaster and Springsteen, but I will say, as per usual, the fan is the loser.

Jon Landau's defense that it's standard industry practice to hold back tickets in major markets although true, is evidence of a greater concern. THAT YOU JUST CAN'T GET A GREAT SEAT UNLESS YOU BUY FROM A SCALPER!

I don't care if there were seats available on the floor, Jon Landau does not dispute that 1,126 tickets in sections close to the stage were held back from the initial on sale. They don't hold the bad seats, they hold the good ones. And although I believe that Bruce did not scalp his


Bob Lefsetz, Santa Monica-based industry legend, is the author of the e-mail newsletter, "The Lefsetz Letter". Famous for being beholden to no one, and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.

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Never boring, always entertaining, Mr. Lefsetz's insights are fueled by his stint as an entertainment business attorney, majordomo of Sanctuary Music's American division and consultancies to major labels.

Bob has been a weekly contributor to CelebrityAccess and Encore since 2001, and we plan many more years of partnership with him. While we here at CelebrityAccess and Encore do not necessarily agree with all of Bob's opinions, we are proud to help share them with you.

own tickets, if you don't think a large quantity of these held back tickets were sold for way above face value, you probably think Metallica believes all music should be free and that Madonna has got the voice of an angel.

We've trained the audience to go to scalpers. A scalper offers a specific seat, which you can pay an appropriate amount for, based on surfing the Net for available ducats. You don't have to wake up early on a Saturday, you don't have to buy close to the on sale date at all. In other words, on sale is for suckers.

And the company taking the heat is Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster makes available what it is told to, not what it decides independently. The percentage of great seats that are truly available is a fraction of those in the building. Promoters resell, season ticket holders resell, the building resells… It's who you know. It's not an issue of being abused by Ticketmaster.


As for Ticketmaster directing surfers to their TicketsNow site for scalped tickets, that is heinous. Especially if seats are still available. Then again, are you truly telling me that Bruce Springsteen fans are so stupid as to be unable to tell that multi- thousand dollar seats are being sold by scalpers as opposed to the Boss himself? This makes no sense, that a literary man would have such a dumb audience.

And speaking of dumb audiences… It's a minority that's truly bitching. Because everybody else knows the facts of life. You just can't get a good seat unless you overpay.

I'm not sure why Mr. Landau waded into this, made it such a cause celebre that Ticketmaster had screwed up. Did he truly believe his house was in order to such an extent that he and the Boss were unimpeachable? We live in the Internet era, there is no privacy, the truth outs.

So the Boss, just like Ticketmaster, does not have clean hands in this situation. And we've got a public that sees music as a once a year event, that you overpay for, since you want to be in the building, and if you're bothering to go, you want to be close.


As for checking out a new band? Why? Even if the listed value of the ticket is cheap, the final price will not be. Fees can double the cost. Primarily because the promoter has been squeezed to such an extent that he takes all the risk and has very little upside. You may hate Live Nation, but I ask you, if the company disappears, WHO IS GOING TO PAY THESE ACTS THESE MONSTROUS SUMS?

AEG will overpay for superstars. Mid-level stars and developing acts?

Ticketmaster is a front for the artists. The service should not help performers scalp their own tickets, it should try and get all-in ticketing. But Ticketmaster is not in control! To say Ticketmaster runs the music business is akin to saying your local car dealership was responsible for the failure of GM.
Your local dealer may have a flawed operation, but the Detroit company's bankruptcy was caused by ineptitude at the very top. Just like the music business.

All-in ticketing must be the norm, not the exception. And make no
mistake, it's not Ticketmaster that's against all-in, but the acts.
They don't want to appear greedy by charging high prices! They'd rather Ticketmaster take the heat.

Promoters must be able to make money. Deals cannot be predicated on selling out and the promoter profiting on merch and refreshments. You know why promoters steal? Because the acts make them!

There should be a public manifest for every show, detailing exactly what seats are available. Which ones have sold already, which ones were never for sale! It's not like this is difficult technologically, it's just that the industry wants to operate on smoke and mirrors, thinking the public is stupid.

But it's not.

The public knows that superstars are all about the money. And that their handlers are equally greedy, willing to wring fans dry in order to maintain their lifestyle.


Instead of pointing fingers, we've got to work together, to entice the public to both trust us and experiment with new music. A concert should not be an assault, like flying coach, but something more akin to business class, even if the gig is sold out.

If Springsteen truly wanted to help, he'd initiate some of the changes
delineated above. Reveal more information and let the public decide.

But now Bruce's hands are stained too.

As for the press that beat up Ticketmaster and then failed to report this "Star-Ledger" story… Ain't that America. It was sexy when fans were irate, whipped into a mob by Springsteen's camp, but when the heat was off, the press didn't care.


Or maybe it's just that the press is afraid of attacking the Boss.

The Boss tries. He admits mistakes.


He made one here. Of yelling at Ticketmaster when his own house was not in order.

Ticketmaster needs to divorce itself from all scalpers.


And Springsteen needs to use his power to clean up this business.
That's what a leader does. Not shrug and say this is the way it's always been and I've got no choice, but make the hard choices and promise he'll conduct himself in a better way, illustrating to others that it can be done.


"Star-Ledger" story:
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/06/springsteen_withheld_best_tick.html


Jon Landau's response: http://www.brucespringsteen.net/news/index.html

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