Guest Post: Ticketmaster, Bruce Springsteen, And The 1 Percent

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"Guest Post: Ticketmaster, Bruce Springsteen, And The 1 Percent"

By Tara McGuinness

My colleague Alyssa has written about Bruce Springsteen’s new song “We Take Care of Our Own.” As usual, the Boss’ latest is a perfect and poetic anthem for a divided national conversation dominated by the question of whether our country and economy will work for most Americans or just the wealthy few—the 99. His answer? “We take care of our own… we take care of our own, wherever this flag is flown.”

Judging by this weekend’s sale of concert tickets for Springsteen’s April 1 show, it is clear that while the Boss reminds us we need a country that works for all Americans, Ticketmaster, his ticket provider, continues to take care of people who can afford $600 tickets on eBay.

Ordinary fans who got up at 10AM on Saturday morning when tickets went on sale were shut out, receiving notifications that tickets were unavailable just three minutes after the sale started. A pair of floor tickets for that show were listed for $624 even before tickets went on sale, and by Monday morning, there were more than 80 eBay listings for Springsteen at the Verizon Center, all costing hundreds of dollars. Some listed for more than a thousand dollars.

Springsteen, whose music champions the downtrodden and working man, had a similar problem in 2009, where Ticketmaste redirected some prospective customers to its own premium resale page, TicketsNow. After some people unwittingly bought tickets at multiples of face value, Ticketmaster apologized and said they would never do it again.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer even called for an investigation at a time Ticketmaster was seeking approval of its merger with Live Nation, which was completed in Jan. 2010. Springsteen spoke out against the merger, though it didn’t stop the U.S. from approving it. The new parent company—The Live Nation and Ticketmaster Entertainment is $2.5 billion company—that appears to be making excellent profits.

Unfortunately the last dust up didn’t prevent the Boss from using Ticketmaster for his next tour. Other artists, like Paul Simon, have combated scalpers with assorted programs. For a show at Washington’s 9:30 Club last year, all tickets were delivered through Will Call, and the purchaser could only pick up tickets on the way into the show, with no time to resell. Springsteen is perhaps the most powerful entertainment advocate for the American working class, so perhaps that is why we hold the Boss to a higher standard than anyone else. The $600 ticket is just another indicator of the growing disparity between the super rich and everyone else in the United States today, especially because in between the time Greetings from Asbury Park (1973) was released to the time Magic (2007) came out, there was a 10 point drop in average worker wages and a 219 percent increase in corporate profits.

No one captures the spirit of hard working Americans like Bruce Springsteen. But in sticking with Ticketmaster, the Boss’s tours are setup for the bosses—not necessarily everyone else.

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