Questions regarding the internet sale of concert tickets are certainly not a new concern. In 2007, the well-publicized Hannah Montana ticket sale controversy left many a pre-teens angry and several state legislators pushing through new legislation to prevent the event from occurring again. However, 2009’s current online ticket issue doesn’t have pre-teen girls in a tizzy; rather, it’s their parents who are angered and confused over the recent Bruce Springsteen ticket debacle.
At the heart of the Bruce Springsteen controversy is the relationship between the primary ticketing giant Ticketmaster Entertainment and its secondary ticket market Web site TicketsNow. Unlike primary ticketing sites, secondary ticketing Web sites supposedly do not offer tickets directly from the artists themselves. Secondary sites allow brokers and fans to post tickets they have personally purchased at a price of their choosing, often resulting in prices that exceed face value.
However, the question has recently been raised as to whether or not musical artists are intentionally withholding prime seats for their concerts: seats that are selling on secondary sites for a much higher prices than those available on sites such as Ticketmaster. In February, while the U.S. Senate was convened in hearings regarding the proposed $2.5 billion Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger, Senator Brad Sherman expressed concern that as many as 15-20 percent of the best tickets for a given concert are routinely held back from general sale.
According to New Jersey state law, only 5 percent of tickets for a given event may be withheld from the general welfare, and current investigations are underway by New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram to better understand the reasoning behind the practice of withholding tickets from the general public.
At the Congressional hearings, Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff and Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino seemed to agree that it was a practice that occurred with general sales of tickets. But, specifically whether Springsteen tickets were withheld, and how many, remains a mystery.
Both Springsteen’s representatives and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office did not return TicketNews’ repeated requests for comment on the matter.
Responding to a question about the issue in an e-mail to TicketNews, Live Nation Senior Vice President John Vlautin confirmed that “[i]t is industry practice for a number of tickets to be held back from sale to the general public to satisfy the needs of the promoter, the record label, the artist and the tour sponsor.” However, according to Vlautin, “the numbers of tickets involved are not significant when compared to the overall capacity of a show.”
In the case of the recent sale of tickets to Springsteen’s upcoming concerts in New Jersey, a good number of tickets to several of the venue’s best sections appear to have been withheld from the general sale. For the premium areas of the IZOD Center, many of these seats are now turning up on the secondary market and selling for hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars.
(The image accompanying this story is from BruceSpringsteen.net)