To Protect Consumers, The NY AG Should Investigate Artist Hold Backs To Protect Consumers, The NY AG Should Investigate Artist Hold Backs
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Monday sent letters to secondary ticket sites StubHub, TicketNetwork, and Vivid Seats requesting information related to speculative... To Protect Consumers, The NY AG Should Investigate Artist Hold Backs

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Monday sent letters to secondary ticket sites StubHub, TicketNetwork, and Vivid Seats requesting information related to speculative ticket listings and asking the companies to take down tickets for Bruce Springsteen’s 2016 shows before the shows officially go on sale Friday. TicketNetwork immediately complied with New York’s chief law enforcement officer by identifying and removing “any inventory listed on our site for Bruce Springsteen concerts in New York” according to a TicketNetwork spokesperson. StubHub stated that it has “no reason to believe that there are speculative tickets” and Vivid Seats suggested that they were reviewing the request.

Bruce Springsteen ticketing practices have always stirred up controversy and odd allies. Springsteen dislike of secondary marketing sites is bizarre when one thinks of his relationship with LiveNation.com , the largest concert ticket brokering system in the world.

Bruce Springsteen seems to live in two different worlds, where he gets to say one thing and do another. In one world he hates ticket resellers, and in another world he partners with the largest ticket reseller, Ticketmaster, to sell his tickets through Ticketmaster’s secondary website which is integrated into their website. They also run some of the most notorious fan clubs. There are many alternatives available to Springsteen rather than using Livenation.com such as StubHub arch nemesis JAM Productions out of Chicago, Seth Hurwitz out of Washington DC, or John Scher out of New Jersey; but it appears that it is all about the money, not the principle.

Springsteen was also roundly criticized in 2009 for holding back tickets for his concert. In fact, a study showed that over 12 percent of the best tickets in the house were scooped by Springsteen and his management, even though state law only allowed 5 percent. The late New Jersey State Assemblyman Peter Biondi, who led the questioning of former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram. “It is a state statute. It is enforceable and it should be enforced,” Biondi said. “It’s there for a reason. The intent was to have enough tickets available to have fair and open pricing.”

The hold back law was passed to protect New Jersey consumers, and some consider Springsteen’s manipulation of upwards of 2200 tickets as massive consumer fraud. Those tickets, the best in the house, were approved by Springsteen or his management, and transferred to VIPs, while his true fans picked over the leftovers. If this consumer protection law was enforced it could have meant jail time for Springsteen and his gang.

But it is not just Springsteen and other artists who are putting it to the fans. Most of the state owned (taxpayer funded) venues and their lobbyists scuttled legislation this year to force entertainment artists to disclose in advance the number of tickets available and the number being held back from the general public. The proposed legislation was supported by ticket brokers and the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB). The brokers feel that they are held responsible for the scarcity of tickets to the general public, when the evidence shows it is most likely the artists that are responsible for holding back the best seats.

If the Attorney General wants to protect the consumers from market manipulation, then perhaps his office should begin by supporting the transparency legislation proposed by the ticket brokers, and take a real hard look at the artists and venues hold backs. Give the consumers the transparency they want. What tickets are really available? Then consumers will really be able to make an educated decision.