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The Lefsetz Letter: Springsteen Tickets

Springsteen (Danny Clinch)
291 0

They’re going for bupkes. People keep e-mailing me about this. Like this gent:

From: Russell Altman

Bob I’d like you to post this. Most of Bruce’s shows are dead on arrival. He is big on the eastern seaboard Denver and Southern California. No one gives a f**k about him. I doubt you will put this up but you should let the public know. Bruce also has been dropping GA Seats and best lower-level seats day of show. Were these tickets Jon Landau and Bruce holds? You won’t tell the public how they f**k the public.

“Bruce Springsteen Tickets For Houston Now Cost The Same As Two Gallons of Gasoline”:

There’s a lot to unpack here.

First and foremost, if you want to see Bruce Springsteen live, you’ll have no problem getting a ticket. There are tons available on the Ticketmaster site, and not at exorbitant prices either.

From: Steve Hutton

“Springsteen Tulsa next week.
Wonder what the Taylor Swift bottom will be”

Attached is a listing for five pairs of two tickets in Tulsa, six are going for $10 and four are going for $9. You can see the screenshot here:

So all that hoopla about the four digit Springsteen tickets?

The dirty little secret is it SOLD tickets. Not at that value, but the less expensive ones were scooped up. Because people were afraid of being left out, because people wanted to scalp the tickets themselves.

Let’s be clear, a cursory survey of availability at Bruce’s dates shows mostly resale tickets. However, in some cases there are still primary tickets available.

And believe me, when you see resale tickets from behind the stage, from the upper deck, these are definitely individuals. Scalpers don’t buy these tickets, there’s no demand beyond face value, and that’s the paradigm the professionals employ. The last thing they want is to be left holding the bag, i.e. the tickets, they’re worthless after the show plays. So, the scalpers only buy good inventory.

But the punters are unsophisticated. Furthermore, they don’t know that they can’t compete with the professionals. If you drop the price of your ticket, they’re going to drop the price of their ticket by a dollar or more. It’s all done automatically, there are computer programs. You can’t beat the scalpers at their own game, impossible.

Not that the scalpers are always right. Sometimes they do end up with inventory they can’t sell, or that they take a loss on. But one thing is for sure, scalping is a business, and if you think you can buy four tickets to a hot show and sell the other two no problem…you’ve got another think coming.

As for Taylor Swift… Insiders know she didn’t go clean everywhere last time. Which was an incentive to put all her tickets up for sale on the same day, to create mania, to get people to buy tickets for fear of being left out. Springsteen is playing arenas and there are tickets available. Swift is playing stadiums; you’ll have no problem getting a ticket at a cheap price. Face value at worst. Maybe below, because all the fans are scalping themselves.

So, the fans are guilty.

As for Bruce… I’m sure there were some holds, but not many, certainly not in the middle of the country. And there are always tickets released at the last minute due to stage configuration, there are holdbacks to make sure the stage fits, you certainly don’t want to cancel people’s ducats because their seat is squeezed out.

And the only entity not at fault here is…TICKETMASTER!

Well, it’s not that simple. You see Ticketmaster does make fees on tickets resold on their platform, not that you must use their platform.

However, pointing the finger at Ticketmaster as the culprit…is oftentimes wrong.

Don’t believe the hype.

Then again, they said that back in the seventies, not today.

Since you can’t get certain gaming consoles, since you can’t get the electric car you want, people believe they’re not going to get tickets to the show they want. And when you deal with superstars like Swift, who appeals to a younger demo, you have inexperienced parents caught up in the maelstrom as they try to get tickets for their kids. Pros know if you want to go, just wait. For the market to settle. For the prices to come down. Until the day of the show.

So would Swift have gone clean everywhere if it were not for the Ticketmaster slowdown? Maybe not. And if she went market by market, some dates might have been hot, and others colder. And margins are thin and acts do not want to play to empty seats, EVER!

Not that the media can fathom all of the above. The same media that does not understand that the Luminate/”Billboard” numbers are manipulated, to the benefit of the labels. Record companies don’t want pure streaming numbers because they can’t game the system! Want your album to move up the chart? Release some vinyl, or lower the price at the iTunes Store, physical and sales are weighted more than streams in Luminate’s scam system.

Not that this “corruption” is solely in the music business. It’s everywhere. Like slotting fees at supermarkets. You pay to get your items on the shelves, most people think it’s a gentleman’s agreement, but no way. And if your product doesn’t sell, they pull it, because slotting fees are just an element of the overall profit at the store, the items actually have to move across the scanner for the virtuous circle to be complete.

And the funny thing is the flames of the mania are often fed by very few people. Post somewhere that tickets have gone up in price to over four figures and that spreads like wildfire, that becomes the story, even amongst people who don’t want to go!

There are shows where it’s nearly impossible to get a ticket. But if you pay the scalper enough… The scalper always has tickets. But their inventory can be low, they can sell out. So, if you really need to be in the building, you get caught up in the buzz and buy. Maybe tickets you really didn’t want, whether it be a matter of price or location.

Turns out tickets have a value. And to a great degree this is established by the people, the marketplace, not the act. If a show goes clean instantly, the mantra in the business is you undercharged. Then again, if a show does not sell out instantly, it’s not a good look. And after the initial on-sale it’s so hard to build further momentum, move tickets. The promoter does not want to be stuck with inventory, because of the aforementioned thin margins.

Oh, margins could be better, but the acts take almost all of the face value of the ticket. Margins are way down in the single digits. So the promoter has to sell nearly every ticket to make a profit.

By now your head is probably spinning. Which is just the point. It’s too complicated, you just don’t understand.

Get it?


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