Springsteen tickets stirs up controversy -- again
The Boss has kicked up another dust-up over concert tickets.
When Bruce Springsteen announced he would sell select seats to his upcoming concert tour only through non-transferable electronic tickets, a holy war of press releases was unleashed.
On one side is Ticketmaster, acting as a proxy for Springsteen, arguing that non-transferable tickets are meant to foil scalpers who scoop up tickets en masse and resell them at astronomical prices.
On the other are ticket resellers who oppose paperless tickets, saying they restrict the consumer right to do what they want with tickets they purchase.
Both sides argue that they speak for fans, which makes the ensuing scenario especially contentious.
The first salvo was fired by the Fan Freedom Project, a group funded in part by StubHub, a ticket resale platform owned by eBay. The group issued a "consumer alert" last Thursday.
"The devil is in the details," said Elizabeth Owen, the group's consumer advocate, "and if you are buying tickets as a gift, or with a group of friends, you may be surprised to know that for some seats on this tour, that won’t be possible.”
Buyers would need to present identification to claim the tickets, the group said. "If you are buying tickets to go with a group of friends or family, you have to wait for your whole party to arrive to enter instead of distributing the tickets in advance and meeting at your seats," the group warned.
The next day, Ticketmaster suggested that "highly suspicious sources" attempting to buy tickets to Springsteen's upcoming concerts overwhelmed the company's online ticketing service. It issued the following statement:
Early indications suggest that much of this traffic came from highly suspicious sources, implying that scalpers were using sophisticated computer programs to assault our systems and secure tickets with the sole intention of selling them in the resale market.
This isn't the first time Springsteen's concert tickets have triggered an uproar. His 2009 tour provoked similar outcry.
Who's in the right? No one, it seems, gets to come out smelling like roses -- even Springsteen.
"Ultimately, this is Springsteen's fault," wrote Bob Lefsetz, a music industry pundit and former entertainment attorney. "Bruce should take a stand. Bruce should be an agent for change. But he's afraid of looking greedy. But the end result is all that money goes to scalpers and fans have to buy tickets on the 'black market.' All that money should go to Bruce, he deserves it. So, the whole arena should be paperless. Or tickets should be scaled. Bruce could have been a leader here."
-- Alex Pham
Photo: Bruce Springsteen at the 2006 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times.