back to article The Boss bitchslaps Ticketmaster

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 …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Ticketmaster are...

    ...scamming bastards. Sorry, there is no other way to say it.

    (Costs are just an illustration - they're probably even higher now)

    Ticket £10.00

    Credit card fee: £4.00 (PER TICKET!)

    Agent fee: £4.00 (PER TICKET!)

    P&P: £4.00

    Total cost for £20 worth of tickets - £40. Twice the price (10x2 + 4x2 + 4x2 + 4). There is no excuse for it other than price fixing and exploiting a market monopoly.

    Can you imagine the uproar if Tesco charged you PER ITEM for using a credit card? Yet this is exactly what Ticketmaster are doing. Quite why the government let them away with it is beyond me.

  2. Andrew Moore


    Why can't Bruce and all his buddies come up with an alternative then? I know Pearl Jam have done it in the past.

  3. Alan Bronze badge

    This happens in UK too

    I noticed this last year when I tried to buy some tickets. None available, then mysteriously some are available on Ticketmaster's eTout site...

  4. Tim Croydon
    Thumb Down

    No need to redirect...

    TicketMaster are pricey enough with their own booking fees. For 'cheaper' gigs, I frequently find myself having to pay something approaching 50% of the face price through fees and P&P for some gigs.

    Good on Springsteen though.

  5. blackworx

    Thieving scum

    These ticket agencies (Ticketmaster and Tickets Scotland seem to be the worst culprits round these parts) take the absolute piss and have been doing so for a number of years. It's an absolute joke when, by the time you've paid the "card charge" and their ticket fee has been added on to the price of every f*cking ticket you buy, the cost of going to some gigs can be bumped up by as much as 40%. These thieving gits need a good boot up the arse from the OFT.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Monopoly supplier

    Or rather monopoly middleman, they should do something about that if Ticketmaster has become an abusive monopoly.

  7. Joe K
    Paris Hilton

    /Obligatory Simpsons quote

    Burns: And to think, Smithers, you laughed when I bought Ticketmaster. [imitating Smithers] Nobody's going to pay a hundred-percent "service charge."

    Smithers: It's a policy that ensures a healthy mix of the rich and the ignorant, sir.

  8. Steven Jones

    Greed, Ticket Agencies and Promoters

    I get heartily sick of paying out excessive extra charges on tickets. Typically you end up paying a per-ticket transaction charge plus another for ticket delivery. The latter is even charged with electronic tickets. Often this can add 25% or more to the price of a ticket.

    There are smaller ticket agencies that don't make these ridiculous out-of-proportion charges, but they don't get a look-in on the big name acts. The reason the big agencies can do this is that they do deals to pre-buy large numbers of tickets from the promoters. The promoters like it, as much of their sales are then guaranteed, and the ticket agencies like it as they make a killing on the popular acts. However, the fans get stung and the artists don't see a penny of the extra charges.

    The operation of this market is something that the Competition Commission ought to be looking at. There are far too many cosy relationships with promoters.

  9. Edwin

    Ho hum

    "Oh it's so unfair ticketmaster is charging us so much"

    So? Don't buy from them. You can actually live without seeing the Boss in concert, if the price pisses you off so much.

    I also remember Mojo concerts bemoaning that the artists are now demanding two or three times the fees they demanded in the past.


    Artists are greedy bastards,

    Agents are greedy bastards

    Concert organisers are greedy bastards

    Ticket agencies are greedy bastards

    what else is new?

    I stopped going to large concerts when the price of a ticket hit ~$50. The only concerts I see now are when I get tickets or at smaller venues with less exorbitant pricing.

    Could we have a rolling eyes icon please?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    dont go to live gigs anymore

    In the 1993 i went to see U2 for a ticket price of £23.50.

    10 years on in 2003 i wanted to go again, only to find tickets closer to £150 now.

    Bottom line is that i wont pay that, no band is worth being fleeced for.

    Ticketmaster are just putting people off buying any tickets from them.

    @ OFT let them get away with it... you meant like the unlimited in broadband selling. the OFT are pretty useless too.

  11. SteveC
    Thumb Down


    Personally, I find the fact that TM have their own inbuilt marketplace for (usually non-transferrable) tickets a worse problem than their fees.

    Trying to get a pair of tickets for a concert is nearly impossible when every other bugger is buying up 4 or 6 and selling their unwanted tickets back through TM at 200%+ face value.

    No wonder concerts sell out in 60 seconds now-a-days.

  12. Markie Dussard
    Dead Vulture

    "The ageing denim-clad rock star ..."

    ... continues to obey the laws of nature/physics.

    Name one rock star who isn't ageing.

    Perhaps you mean "old". What a crime.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Springsteen sets the lower bound for his tickets

    The price of the tickets is arbitrary in that only a small part of the total price covers the actual venue, promotion & production costs. The bulk of the money goes to the promoter & "artist/band". Pretty hypocritical of Springsteen to go after ticketmaster when their "inflation" is small compared to his own.

  14. censored


    Ticketbastard now charge £1.25 to deliver an electronic ticket.

  15. Ron Eve
    Thumb Up

    'twas ever thus

    Samo samo. It's never been any different. In all the years I worked in the music business the way tickets are distributed and sold has never been anything more than a scam to fleece the punter. Even going directly to the box office (i.e. the Albert Hall) to buy tickets for future events there, you still pay a 'booking fee'. If you question it you will never get a direct answer other than 'it's a standard charge for booking'.

    It's the same deal with distribution. Promoters and agents tie all this in with the venues and sometimes even with artists management. In the old days it used to be that they'd all sit in the office while the gig was on, count up all the tickets (other than pre-sold), count up the cash and then divvy it up to be carried out in brown paper bags. No, I'm not making this up.

    Ticktemaster have been one of the worst offenders for charging all these extras and they hold a near monopoly. I don't really know what can be done about it though. Good for Springsteen on calling them out on it. If he can start the ball rolling with all the other major artists then that would be a great thing. There are a lot of artists (especially big acts) who have been grumbling for years about this.

    Well done El Reg for reporting this, I haven't seen it anywhere else yet!

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Good on Springstein?

    Certainly very good for Springstein. OTOH there seems no compulsion for Springstein to contract with Ticketmaster. Nor to play only massive venues. Yet this way he deflects any blame from himself, makes himself look good with the punters, and no-one wonders why they never see him playing coffee-houses. FFS - rock stars playing for the fun of it? Probably they fear someone coming up to ask them if they are taking the piss.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    The Reg was first?

    @Ron Eve 16:24: "Well done El Reg for reporting this, I haven't seen it anywhere else yet!"

    Try: (17:21 5th Feb)

    Paris, because I've always wanted to.

  18. Peyton

    @"The ageing denim-clad rock star ..."

    "Name one rock star who isn't ageing."


  19. Timo

    why not go to an auction model

    Seems that everyone is pissed because other people are making serious money by being the middlemen (esp about ticket resellers). I bet that Mr Stringbean would rather see that money in his pocket.

    One solution would be to capture something closer to the "market price" which means moving to an auction model. This would let the artist and/or venue sell their tickets at the price the market would bear, not at some arbitrary price that sets up resellers (scalpers) to make big bucks. The tickets would cost the same to the general public, but the money ends up in different places. In some cases for crap artists they may find out what they are really worth.

    Ticketmaster is a bunch of freaking jerks but nobody has really been able to crack this one open. Probably easier for people just to stay home.

  20. Richard Lloyd

    I buy from the booking office

    If you live close to the venue, then do what I do and buy in *cash* from the booking office at the venue. Yes, they open limited hours, but a) you get the tickets in your hand there and then and b) no extra fees at all (yep, it's the only way to actually just pay the price shown on the ticket itself).

    I simply don't trust buying tickets online and the additional fees are 100% a rip-off. These additional fees should be included in the standard ticket price and the *only* extra should be postage (which may have to be several quid because you really want them sent next day recorded delivery).

  21. GumboKing

    It is good to have a monopoly!

    Overheard in some Ticketmaster boardroom, "Let's see, we are already making extra money on our additional fees, but now that we have three types of extra fees it will be tough to add another. Any ideas?"

    "I just saw that movie about Enron, what if we create our own marketplace for tickets we have already sold. Then since we are sold out, we can link to that marketplace, whose prices will have skyrocketed and we can charge fees for reselling AND buying."

    "Yes, we can then charge the fees three times on the same ticket. Brilliant!"

    They have been taking some flack in Canada already. It started last year when idiot parents paid 3 or more times the regular price so their sprog could see Miley Cyrus or some such. Those parents were immediately redirected to the reseller site which still had TicketMaster branding so they thought they were paying thte actual ticket price.

    As they pretty much have a monopoly here on most large venues there are not many options except for boycotting all shows.

  22. J


    " I bet that Mr Stringbean would rather see that money in his pocket."

    I would rather see it in his pocket too!

    Much better to give the money to the musician than to some parasites who only exploit their (monopoly, basically) position of selling the tickets.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    My rule of thumb

    If I can potentially buy an artist's collected works on CD for the price of a ticket (or less), I pass on the live show. I don't see very many live shows these days.

    I also buy used CDs, and sell back oldies that I haven't wanted to listen to for a few years. <RIAA> "The horror! The horror!"


    I enjoy blaming Michael Jackson and his "Thriller" tour for sending prices through the roof.

    Now get those damned kids off my lawn.

  24. Robert Armstrong

    Buy tix at the box office and avoid the Ticketmaster ripoff

    Thankfully, in my town you can go to the box office of the venues and purchase a ticket and not pay the fees that TicketBastar...errr TicketMaster charges. For example, a $25 ticket to a show at the Fillmore in Denver will cost $38 if you buy through TicketMaster, at the box office which if open on weekdays as well as the evening of the show, the cost is $25 plus my time. Since I live nearby, my cost to do this is maybe $1 above the ticket price compared to the $13 added to the ducat that I would pay for the privilege of buying from the monopolist.

    But I live in Denver, if I had to drive an hour each way from the suburbs then I might purchase online to save time and energy costs. Monopolies are never good for consumers but until the artists and their management refuse to allow venues to use TicketMaster as their exclusive distributor then nothing will change.

  25. damonlab


    An example - an upcoming local show (in Detroit) has tickets for $15 if you buy them up at the box office. Then ticketmaster does this:

    Tickets (Words and Rhythm of the D wsg Talib Kweli)

    FULL PRICE TICKET US - $12.00 x 1

    Total Building Facility Charge(s) - US $3.00 x 1

    Total Convenience Charge(s) - US $3.90 x 1

    Order Processing Charge(s) - US $4.35

    TicketFast Delivery - US $2.50


    In my example, ticketmaster increases the price of the ticket by 72% just for the convenience of being able to print the ticket at home.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    This isn't new...

    There was a blog on myspace about this almost two years ago... Ticketmaster in the UK sold out of The Police tickets in 12 minutes, yet they were onsale on ticketmaster's secondary site immediately!

  27. Alex
    Thumb Up

    It astounds me

    Why do artists use Ticketmaster? Oh yes risk and ease of use.

    Lets hope they start to sell their own non transferable tickets themselves.

    In batches over the lead up, hints for dedicated fans for early tickets, auctions for late comers.

    Good on the Boss maybe he will change the way his team sell tickets?

  28. Chris C

    Ah yes, boycott them all

    I do so love hypocrisy. It smells great in the morning, and even now in the early evening.

    When there's an article about musicians actually wanting to be paid for their time and their talent (the audacity!), many people jump in here and say "I'm not doing anything wrong by downloading or sharing it, I shouldn't have to pay for it, music should be free! The artist should only get money by touring." (which conveniently ignores the time, effort, and cost that went into creating the music, and the fact that touring in and of itself is a separate job in addition to actually creating the music).

    And now when the ticket agency jacks up the prices because THEY are getting greedy, people jump in here and say to boycott the concerts.

    So, umm... HOW is the artist supposed to make money when you won't buy their music (and insist that they tour to make money), and then boycott them when they tour?

    For the record, I haven't been to a concert in a number of years. Largely because I haven't known of a show worth seeing, but mostly because I refuse to pay the high ticket prices and all the extra fees. But then, I still buy CDs (and when I can pay the artist directly, I'll do that).

  29. Chad Larson

    Charity of strangers?


    "So, umm... HOW is the artist supposed to make money when you won't buy their music (and insist that they tour to make money), and then boycott them when they tour?"

    Very good point.

  30. Chad Larson
    IT Angle

    confusing artists with promoters


    The artists don't sell tickets. The promoters do. For the artists to be selling the tickets, they'd have to promote the show, a completely different business than performance (and one they'd generally do badly).

    It works like this. A promoter (say, LiveNation) tells the artist's management, "I'll pay you $50,000 to play this here arena Tuesday night." He tells the arena, "I'd like to rent your venue a week from Tuesday." If they both agree, a show is on. Then the promoter hires himself someone (say, TicketMaster) to unload all the tickets to the seats in the venue for that show. The promoter sets the price he wants for the tickets. Ticket master makes its money off all those weird fees.

    If the cost of hiring the artist and of renting the venue turns out less than the revenue generated by selling the tickets, the promoter makes money. If it does not, he loses. Either way (barring bankruptcy) the artist and the venue get paid.

    So the artists like to do business with folks like LiveNation because they are very unlikely to go broke even if ticket sales suck, and LiveNation like to use TicketMaster because it doesn't cost them up-front money and TicketMaster has name-brand recognition.

    Bottom line - If people buy the tickets at the asking price, those prices will stay the same. If not, the next promoter will offer the artist less money for a show ('cause the last guy took a bath) and the tickets will be cheaper.

    This is generally a good thing. It's called capitalism. You could look it up.

  31. Andrew Tyler

    The Dead

    Been a while, but I recall that the Grateful Dead sold the tickets themselves mail order specifically to avoid Ticketmaster. They probably didn't need much actual 'promoting' though as it was guaranteed they'd sell tens of thousands of tickets easily and months beforehand. If they could do it, Springsteen could do it without a doubt though. They also allowed people to record (from the soundboard even), and freely distribute their live performances. Good stuff. Of course, they were in a position to do this because they were already very popular and guaranteed to sell a ton of tickets because of the hippie circus following them around.

    To the gentlemen who suggested an open auction: I like that idea, but the tickets do sell out, so they already sell at the price the market will bear (bare?). If it cuts Ticketmaster out of the loop though, that's just fine with me.

    I friend of mine worked with Springsteen once. I hear he's a really nice guy.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Money for old rope

    The biggest laugh is paying a 'delivery charge' when the 'ticket' is merely a number or PDF sent by email. I have more sympathy with genuine ticket touts than these c***s.

  33. r


    'If they could do it, Springsteen could do it without a doubt though.'

    he 'could' but he is singed to live nation. Would they allow him to? which would hurt ticket master profits.

    live nation/ticket master/venue mergers and '360 degree' deals are the worst thing to happen to music since... erm ever. For both consumers and performers, not for profit maximising money making scum bags though.

  34. Mark

    But the freetards said

    That ticket sales where the new way for artists to make money since they refuse to pay for the music.

    I guess the left off the fact that the money is being made for ticketmaster, but I guess one windmill is as good as any other.

  35. Neoc

    I don't go to concerts any more

    But I will go to gigs (small venues). Why?

    The last couple of "concerts" I went to:

    1) The seats where of the "hard-plastic collapsible" variety;

    2) The artists on stage looked about 1cm tall (could only really see them on the giant video screen, which seems to have 0.5 second lag between its video feed and the audio);

    3) The audio was delivered via an extensive sound system;

    4) Price was AU$150 for the two of us (averaged between concerts).

    If I watch the DVD of the show at home:

    1) The seats are comfortable and recline;

    2) The artists look about 30cm tall on my wide-screen TV, which doesn't suffer from video-to-audio lag;

    3) The audio was delivered via a (admittedly small) 5.1 sound system;

    4) Price of the DVD was AU$35 (average of "concert" DVD prices).

    So: in both cases I can only "see" the artists via a screen and hear them via a sound-system, but if I do it at home, it's better video/audio quality, more comfortable and cheaper.

    I would rather go to smaller gigs and actually get to hear and see the band. But that would mean that the poor artists would have to play every night for a fortnight to cover the same amount of people that they play to during a "stadium" concert. So a Pox on whoever thought of the concept of "stadium-sized" concerts, and to the artists who agree to do it.

  36. Trevor Pott Gold badge

    Ticketmaster Delivery Charge

    You know, I'm not defending the exorbitant amounts that Ticketmaster charges, but there is a logical reason for a fee of some variety to be charged for their service.

    They have to hire administrators, call center/support reps for when things explode, sysadmins, programmers, and equipment to host all the various gear running those websites.

    This costs money, and that money has to come from somewhere. Since Ticketmaster doesn't set the price of the tickets, they have to recoup those costs via a fee above and beyond what the "at the door" price is.

    How large does that fee need to be to cover those costs? Should that fee be built into all tickets, or only those bought online? Maybe "at the door" price should be considered a "discount" over the "standard" of e-delivery? I have absolutely no idea.

    My point it that there is INFRASTRUCTURE involved in running something like Ticketmaster, of all people readers of the Reg should understand that. There are also people's salaries to be paid in supporting all of it, and dealing with the inevitable phone calls.

    In the end, the same really holds true for music delivered online. Even though the RIAA/MPAA/etc. etc. charge astronomical fees, assuming an artist were with an Indie label, delivering their music via a not-insanely-greedy online distributor, there would still be similar costs involved. Where does this belief that punters should get things for free come from?

    Your greedy little freetardism is saying that those involved in the distribution of information don't deserve to be paid. I resent that, and as a sysadmin, on behalf of all other sysadmins involved in electronic distribution channels: piss off. If you want to moan about the bonuses executives and what not make, I'll back you 100%, but there are real people involved in making sure you get a chance to take part in your entertainment, and all of those people deserve to be paid.

  37. Philip Dagnan

    £3 to porint 'em yourself

    Hows this though...

    We'll deliver your tickets for... £3

    We'll let you pick up your tickets for... £3

    We'll email yoiur tickets, to print yourself.... £3 !!!!!!!!!!!! fercough.

    So bought from the box office, and avoided being ticketmaster, and always will.

  38. Steven Jones

    @Trevor Pott

    You can resent all you like people objecting to the extra charges TicketMaster put on ticket prices; it won't stop people complaining about charges adding something as much as 40% on the face value of a ticket. Frankly the argument that TicketMaster's direct ticket sales costs are typically £10-$15 ($14-$20) is a joke. Othere companies manage to run IT systems with transactional costs of a fraction of a dollar - not in the tens of dollar. If they can't run things more efficiently than that, then they should outsourse it to somebody who can.

    Of course the real explanation for a lot of this cost is that Tickemaster are covering a lot of their risks, often because they are probably over-paying for their bulk ticket purchases. It's that monopoly arrangement with promoters which is the problem - by over-paying they can freeze competitors out of the market.

    If TicketMaster get tied up with LiveNation then this could well get much worse. LiveNation have managed to land themselves with huge future liabilities by signing up artists like Madonna with guaranteed payments for several years in the future. I think the Maddona deal is for $120m with a guarantee of $12m per year. Quite who will be watching her gyrating in her leotard when she hits 60 towards the end of that contract is a bit difficult to say, but these huge future liabilities that LiveNation have locked in will have to get paid for one way or another (or they will go spectacularly bankrupt).

    The record companies got a dreadful reputation for profiteering through overpriced CDs in the good times. However, at least they did do some artist development. The likes of LiveNation and TicketMasters are in it to maximise income form a few, very big names. As it is, LiveNation in particular is in for a very tough time based on some extremely expensive bets they've made on some current behemoths. In the meantime, expect the cost of tickets for big name acts to go up and up.

  39. Trevor Pott Gold badge

    @Steven Jones

    I don't resent people who believe that Ticketmaster et al. should be allowed to charge a REASONABLE fee per transaction to support their staff, nor am I in any way saying I know what a REASONABLE fee is. What I am saying is that I resent those who feel that such things should be FREE. Those who say they should be FREE are saying the efforts of sysadmins not unlike myself have no value.;

    Those people can [something highly unpleasant].

  40. Tim Croydon

    Box Office

    Problem is that in the UK all the venues are owned by the promoters (here's looking at you Clear Channel) and so even they charge a 'booking' fee.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    @ tim croydon

    No they aren't.

    Wolverhampton Civic Hall - owned by Wolverhampton City Council

    Wuftrun Hall - same

    LG Arena (NEC) - the NEC Group

    NIA - NEC group

    Symphony Hall - Performances Birmingham Ltd (registered charity!)

    Birmingham Town Hall - same

    Glee Club - privately owned

    O2 academy - academy music group.

    That pretty much covers the west midlands....

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