Dynamic Pricing

It won’t be about Bruce.

Quick, which act broke the hundred dollar ticket barrier and when?

Students of the game, the aged, will tell you it was the Eagles on their Hell Freezes Over tour back in ’94. Does anybody balk at paying a hundred dollars for a ticket anymore? For good ones, that appears CHEAP!

There was blowback when the Eagles priced their tickets high, but the band had been absent in excess of a decade. And their image was different from Bruce’s. Bruce portrayed the working class, whereas the Eagles depicted the thinking class, as well as the hedonistic, depending upon whether the song was written by Don Henley or Glenn Frey.

As for credibility?


The entire business is predicated on beliefs that were established back in the sixties and seventies, when rock blew up and music became truly big business, with corporations buying up labels and Frank Barsalona parceling out tour dates. Something different was being sold back then. One can argue that the brouhaha over Springsteen ticket prices is less about the man himself than the audience yearning for what once was. They’d graduated, they’d evolved, but they wanted Bruce to be stuck in the past, so they could believe the world hadn’t changed, when that is patently untrue.

Look, there are people who re-enact the Civil War. You can go horseback riding. But these are diversions, not the mainstream. There’s some money in nostalgia. But the big money is always about living in the present. If you want attention, you’ve got to live today.

Which is why you see the aged acts on TV singing shows. They hunger for attention, to keep their name in the news, top of mind. Otherwise, you’ll forget them, and they’ll have to play smaller and smaller buildings and ultimately give up. Do you want to make less money? Do you want to give up your job? I didn’t think so.

As for Springsteen selling his assets to Sony for north of half a billion dollars… First and foremost, there’s tax on that money, it’s not net. And this represents a life’s work. You get Social Security. You might even get a pension. You’ve got a 401k. You’re making money for all that work you put in over forty plus years, why can’t Bruce earn the reward? Just like the amount you get on Social Security depends upon how much you earned during your career. Do you find people bitching that others make more on Social Security? No, the system is math. It all comes down to how much you earned. And if you wanted to make more… You chose your own path. (However your opportunities might have been limited, and this is a flaw in the system.)

So what you’ve got here is a seventysomething rock star with seventies values and…how many more of these are out there? The pickings are really slim. Which feeds demand. Which makes prices go up.

And then you’ve got the delusional hoi polloi believing it’s entitled to multiple shows at low ticket prices, never mind good seats. Do these same people believe they’re entitled to multiple Teslas? At a cheap price? Right now demand is so heavy that used Teslas go for more than new ones. And most people can’t afford multiple cars anyway. But multiple Springsteen tickets? They’re entitled!

But ultimately Bruce played by the modern rules, HE SHUT UP!

And all the stories about ticketing had no hook, no quote, so they focused on the dynamic process. They illustrated it. And delineated that Bruce wasn’t the first to employ it.

Mistakes were made. Some promoters hand-adjust ticket prices as opposed to employing a program. That eliminates the ridiculous four figure prices for mediocre seats that no one ever buys anyway. Ticketmaster says the average price of a Springsteen ticket was $262. Does that sound high to you? Doesn’t to me. Springsteen doesn’t come around once a year, like the World Series and the Super Bowl, and they’re priced much higher, WAY HIGHER!

It’s supply and demand.

Let’s go back to the four figure mediocre seats. People refused to pay the freight. And the price went down. It’s not like the public doesn’t have a hand in this. No one is forcing them to pay.

So in the future…

People will stop thinking about the secondary market. The goal of the act is to eliminate the secondary market, so it captures all the cash. So people will be prepared for the fact that ticket prices will constantly change. You don’t find people bitching about airline ticket prices. They bitch about airlines, but they know the pricing structure. Want to go for cheap? BOOK EARLY! That tends to be people who take a once a year vacation, the people looking to save pennies. Whereas the more wealthy are less concerned with nickels and dimes. They’ll pay more when they know more. But everybody knows the ticket goes up dramatically starting a week out. So the only people who pay these extreme prices are the truly rich, who if they’re that rich are flying private anyway, and the business people, who have to go. They’re making money, why can’t the airline? The airline doesn’t change prices for sport, to screw you, but to fill the planes at a profit. That’s the game of dynamic pricing.

Just like some promoters offload tickets to scalpers. This is rampant in sports. There are so many tickets in baseball. The scalpers buy a season’s worth of tickets knowing that most are worth face value at best, but when the New York teams come to play, when the leading teams come to play, when the home team is in the playoffs, a fortune can be made. And the teams, the sellers, are fine with this, because the scalpers are buying so many tickets it delivers revenue, for what might be a lousy season anyway.

As for acts scalping their own tickets… The practice was rampant. But now that there’s VIP and dynamic pricing, there is less incentive. The act wants the upside.

Unless there’s a belief the act won’t sell out. If you know you’re not going to go clean, you want that scalper money.

As for the price of tickets… The acts can’t charge whatever they want, only what the fans will pay. It’s not a one-sided deal.

So now the public knows the game. They know all about dynamic pricing. They’re prepared.

And the funny thing is Springsteen fans will do his bidding. First, those who go, and if you really want to you can get a ticket, will rave. And they’ll ultimately say that Bruce was just doing what everybody else does, that it’s not his fault, he just got all the blame.

Fans can rationalize any behavior by their favorite. They won’t even believe that the acts are in control of the ticket prices, that Ticketmaster is just a middleman, doing what the act tells them to.

So this Springsteen tour will just be a moment in time.

Because Springsteen shut up! If he talked the story would have been about him. Since he didn’t, the story became about the process, to his advantage.

Just like if you find out someone is in a Twitter war you shake your head. Why would you react to these people? It’s exactly what they want. They’ve got nothing to lose. They love interacting with the powerful. And the powerful can only lose. Do you think telling the truth solves the problem? Then you’ve got no familiarity with politics.

And politics is seemingly the only thing that gets universal traction these days. All those acts employing dynamic pricing before Bruce…his fans knew nothing about it. The story might look big to you, but from outside it’s usually tiny.

The game is solidifying.

Dynamic pricing is here to stay.

And the fans want no restrictions on the tickets they acquire. So all this talk about paperless and tying the ticket to the purchaser won’t happen, because the fans don’t like it, because they want to profit on the act’s back too.

Welcome to the future, which is happening now.

Bruce Springsteen wasn’t an innovator, he was just the poster boy.

But the poster’s going to be ripped down, just you wait.

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