Over the course of his nearly 40-year career, Bruce Springsteen has worked very hard to build and maintain his image as an everyman rock star. Regardless of what you think of his music on a personal level, you would be hard-pressed to find many other artists who give back — both financially and in his performances — as much as the Boss. However, after Springsteen went on the offensive back in February after learning that Ticketmaster had prematurely and unfairly redirected some of his fans to their more expensive TicketsNow reselling site, some cracks in his armor began to show. The New Jersey Star-Ledger’s Peggy McGlone recently published a report that revealed that at Springsteen’s most recent (and Vulture-approved) gig at New Jersey’s Izod Center, only 108 of the 1,126 seats closest to the stage were made available for public purchase. Additionally, it turns out that 12 percent of the nearly 19,000 available seats at said venue were reserved for Springsteen and his band, his record company, his agent, and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, a percentage that actually violates New Jersey state law.
While Springsteen himself has remained mum on the subject, his longtime manager and former rock journalist Jon Landau jumped into the fray by posting his response to the controversy on Springsteen’s official website yesterday. The basic premise of his response is twofold: (1) Springsteen does, in fact, release more than 95 percent of the “best” seats — which, more often than not, are the standing-room-only tickets on the floor of these venues — to the ticket-buying public, and (2) his “holds” (an industry term for the seats set aside for the artist) are not really any different than any other touring act that headlines arena tours:
Yes, we do hold significant numbers of tickets when we play New Jersey, New York and Los Angeles, as does every arena headliner. These holds are used by Bruce, his band members, and longtime members of his extended organization, their families and close relations; by the record label for their staff, for reviewers, and for radio stations; by charities who are provided with tickets for fund raising purposes, such as special auctions; for service people who help us on a year-round basis; and for other similar purposes. Unlike some Ticketmaster managed artists, no tickets are held for high dollar resale on TicketsNow, or through any other means.
Regardless of who you side with on this one, it’s pretty hard to disagree that this whole mess has left a lot of egg on Springsteen’s face. Ever since the runaway of success of Born in the U.S.A. in the mid-eighties, snide contrarians have taken every opportunity to bash Springsteen’s “man of the people” positioning as nothing more than an act. We’re certainly not of that mindset, but we’re with Lefsetz on this one: Rather than Jon Landau posting a note that effectively says “We don’t make the rules, we just play by them,” the band would be best suited by trying to use their influence to help bring transparency to the generally dirty world of concert promoters and ticket sellers. Then again, that didn’t exactly go over so well for Pearl Jam, did it?
Springsteen withheld best tickets from the public at NJ concert, records show [Star-Ledger]
AN UPDATE ON TICKETING ISSUES FROM JON LANDAU [BruceSpringsteen.net]