Springsteen Ticketmaster fiasco prompts investigations

By | February 6, 2009 at 4:51 PM

Bruce Springsteen has castigated Ticketmaster after it encouraged US fans to buy tickets online for one of his gigs at inflated prices.

The Boss also put the boot in about any possible merger between Ticketmaster and concert promoter Live Nation, declaring that such a move would “make the current ticket situation even worse for the fan”.

Springsteen, his manager Jon Landau and the entire Springsteen tour team claimed on the Brucemeister’s website that such a move would lead to “a near monopoly situation in music ticketing”.

Officials in Connecticut and New Jersey are launching investigations into Ticketmaster’s sales practices, following recent outrage over reportedly inflated prices for Bruce Springsteen concert tickets.

The offices of Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram have confirmed they are looking into whether the ticket broker and its subsidiary violated state laws.

Fans lodged more than 1,000 complaints against exclusive seller Ticketmaster, according to Milgram’s office.

After initial attempts to buy Springsteen concert tickets failed, fans reported being redirected to the firm’s subsidiary reseller TicketsNow – which offered the tickets at prices inflated to several times the face value.

The veteran rocker himself chimed in, declaring himself “furious” over the situation and called the move an “abuse” of his fans.

“We condemn this practice. We have asked this redirection from Ticketmaster to TicketsNow to cease and desist immediately,” Springsteen said in a letter on his website.

Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff issued an apology to the singer and his fans, saying the company has removed the redirect.

Ongoing protests cite conflict of interest

Controversy over and complaints about Ticketmaster and its reseller subsidiary have been building over the past few years, including in Canada.

In 2008, Saskatchewan’s Justice Minister Don Morgan said he would review the situation after receiving a flood of public complaints over being redirected to the pricier reseller for Elton John concert tickets.

Ticketmaster officials have argued that its resale site is simply fulfilling the demand for tickets from fans willing to pay more.

However, with Ticketmaster being the market leader for selling tickets to the majority of concerts, plays, sports or other events, consumer advocates say it is unethical and a conflict of interest for the company to then own a reseller (which critics have likened to online scalping).

Another point of contention is that fans have reported seeing tickets for highly anticipated shows available via the company’s pricier reseller before being released by the main Ticketmaster site.

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