[This was my column for GlobalNews.ca 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.