Music Industry

Look out: I’m about to defend Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing policy

[This was my column for this week. – AC]

Earlier this summer, Bruce Springsteen fans were shocked to find nosebleed seats for his 2023 tour selling for as high as US$5,000. Cue the outrage. It certainly seemed that someone was engaging in a little price gouging. And in the dog days of summer, this story became low-hanging fruit for multiple news stories over a couple of weeks.

How could Springsteen, this man of the people and working class, be charging so much for tickets, especially when he got US$550 million for selling his catalogue? How could Ticketmaster be brazen enough to charge these kinds of prices? And why didn’t Springsteen speak out? His silence says he must have been complicit! It’s greed, I tell you! Nothing but over-the-top greed!

Hang on, bucko. There’s more to the story — and the overall result is actually good news for music fans, great news for artists, and bad news for scalpers. Let’s start from the beginning.

Before an act goes on tour, there are meetings with agents and promoters to determine how much it will cost and how much of a profit everyone hopes to make. Many spreadsheets are filled with calculations involving everything from how many trucks and roadies will be needed to the number of dates that have to be scheduled and the percentage of tickets that need to be sold for each date. The net result is a tiered set of ticket prices. The closer you are to the stage, the more expensive the ticket’s face value.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38513 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

4 thoughts on “Look out: I’m about to defend Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing policy

  • Based on my experience of actually paying for around 30 shows a year for the past several years, this article is incorrect. Just take a look at the official platinum prices for RHCP in Toronto, it’s been the same pricing since they went on sale. Or look at the Bruce Springsteen show in Buffalo, there are still many official platinum tickets going for more than what TM is parroting. Let’s not talk about the scalpers and other resellers because a quick view of the map of either of the shows reference above shows there are many people selling their seats well above retail prices.

    I look at prices a lot at least several times weekly. This article does not tell the real story.

  • An excellent analysis of the actual facts, but sadly no one gives a s**t, outrage is easier and sells better than facts and reason.

    I don’t care personally, I have no interest in watching a bunch of rich old guys limp around on replaced hips and knees, slowly “rocking to the oldies” I’ve already heard a million times, I’ll just stream it, that way I can hit pause in case I need to use my own bathroom.

  • You’re so wrong on this. I read your article. So-called dynamic pricing puts the fan in catch-22. OF COURSE ticket demand will surge when tix first go on sale. This will happen every time. Therefore newly released tickets will be at their worst prices. So the fan is left with an awful choice: guessing if there will be any tickets left *if* prices come down, or taking the chance of not getting a ticket at all it or crappy seats if they wait it out. Making a fan go through this gamble is unfair, and, yes, ridiculously greedy.

    Grabbing hands, indeed.

  • Let the seats go empty. I pick my battles and avoid shows that engage in this crap. Also, it’s fun watching the ticket dump on day/time of show. Eat those losses.


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