Ticketmaster gets Bosscocked

Your television screen wasn't the only thing getting slammed by Bruce Springsteen's crotch this past Superbowl Sunday.  The next morning thousands of fans had a nightmare of a time trying to purchase tickets to upcoming Springsteen shows.  At this point we are all pretty used to dealing with the ridiculous hurdles thrown at us by Ticketmaster and figure there is nothing we can do about it.   Well The Boss has our back and hes speaking his mind.  This message was posted earlier today on his website...

We know there was much confusion regarding Ticketmaster and TicketsNow during last Monday's on-sale dates. We were as confused as you were, as we were given no advance notice of the major changes in the Ticketmaster-TicketsNow world. (Bear in mind that we are not clients of any ticketing company, and that all those arrangements are between venues and ticketing companies.)

Last Monday, we were informed that Ticketmaster was redirecting your log-in requests for tickets at face value, to their secondary site TicketsNow, which specializes in up-selling tickets at above face value. They did this even when other seats remained available at face value. We condemn this practice.

We perceive this as a pure conflict of interest. Ticketmaster is there to ensure that we have a good, fair sale of our tickets at their face value plus normal ticketing charges. TicketsNow is supposed to be a secondary site where people who already have tickets may exchange, trade, and, unfortunately, speculate with them. We have asked this redirection from Ticketmaster to TicketsNow cease and desist immediately and Ticketmaster has agreed to do so in the future and has removed its unwanted material from their and our site.

We know the many cynical arguments some make in favor of the Ticketmaster system: There are rumors that some artists or managers participate in Ticketmaster charges--we do not. There are rumors that some artists or managers are receiving a percentage of the amount above face value at secondary outlets like TicketsNow--we do not. Some artists or managers may not perceive there to be a conflict between having the distributor of their tickets in effect "scalping" those same tickets through a secondary company like TicketsNow--we do.

While many of you have sent notes to us and your local promoters, you may also send accurate informational letters to Albert Lopez of Ticketmaster and he will try to address your questions.

A final point for now: the one thing that would make the current ticket situation even worse for the fan than it is now would be Ticketmaster and Live Nation coming up with a single system, thereby returning us to a near monopoly situation in music ticketing. Several newspapers are reporting on this story right now. If you, like us, oppose that idea, you should make it known to your representatives.

The abuse of our fans and our trust by Ticketmaster has made us as furious as it has made many of you. We will continue to do our utmost now and in the future to make sure that these practices are permanently curtailed on our tours.

Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau and the entire Springsteen Tour Team

Thank you Bruce!  This message was so effective that it earned this apology from Ticketmaster CEO, Irving Azoff...

 While we were genuinely trying to do the right thing for fans in providing more choices when the tickets they requested from the primary on-sale were not available, we clearly missed the mark. Fans are confused and angry, which is the opposite of what we hoped to accomplish. We sincerely apologize to Bruce, his organization and, above all, his fans.

We recognize that we need to change our course. We have committed to Bruce and state publicly here that we have taken down all links for Bruce's shows directing fans from Ticketmaster to TicketsNow. This redirection only occurred as a choice when we could not satisfy fans' specific search request for primary ticket inventory, but to make sure there is no misunderstanding in the future, we also publicly state that we will never again link to TicketsNow in a manner that can possibly create any confusion during a high-demand on-sale. Specifically, we will not present an option to go to TicketsNow from Ticketmaster without the consent of the artist and the venue, both of whom work together to bring the joy of live entertainment to millions of fans.

If any fans inadvertently purchased tickets in the resale marketplace believing in error they were purchasing from the initial on-sale, we will refund the difference between the actual purchase price and the face price of the ticket. (Please don't abuse this good faith gesture - we did not give brokers any preferential access to tickets.)

We are committed to helping deliver the most transparent and best live entertainment experience to fans. We will do better going forward.

Irving Azoff, CEO, Ticketmaster Entertainment   

It doesn't stop there.  On Tuesday Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) called for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the matter of Ticketmaster sending people to Ticketnow to pay scalper prices for tickets that should have been available for face value.   

"I am troubled by how quickly tickets priced exponentially higher became available on the secondary market to thousands of rejected fans, many who also endured unfortunate technical problems on Ticketmaster.com," Pascrell wrote to FTC chairman William Kovacic.

"With so many families struggling in this economy, I am outraged by how expensive tickets to ball games, concerts and other shows have become," Pascrell wrote.  "I understand the economic principles that have driven up the cost of entertainment, but will not tolerate unjust business practices that put regular Americans at a disadvantage."

For years, independen brokers re-sold tickets above face value.  Then Ticketmaster decides to get into the act with its own subsidiary, TicketsNow.  That may be fair game but what drove everyone into a tizzy is that at the very same time people are trying to buy face value tickets and not able to come up with any, the very same website is offering tickets at 3X the price.  It throws the whole notin of face value out the window and pretty much uses the main ticketing side as a funnel for scalping.  It's like going into a store to buy an air conditioner advertised for $200, and them saying, "Sorry, we don't have any for $200 but we'll sell you the same AC for $600.  And my, its hot outside isn't it!  Too bad we are the only store in town selling air conditioners."

So if you feel that there is something wrong with Ticketmaster basically selling scalper price tickets from their site, or with them merging with Livenation, tell somebody about it.  And not your mother, get in touch with your congressperson, just like Bruce told you.