What Ticketmaster’s ‘Dynamic Pricing’ Means For Your Wallet

"Los Angeles, CA, USA - November 5, 2012: Music concert show event tIckets for Los Angeles area performances.
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It used to be compulsory to complain about Ticketmaster’s near-monopoly and the excessive delivery, facility and service charges it levied on fans for purchasing tickets to their favorite artists and events. Now, incidental fees are nothing compared to the furor over the ticket seller’s “dynamic pricing” model, which is back in the news following a recent tour announcement by one of America’s leading entertainers.

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Known throughout the world for his marathon-length concerts, the “man of the people” persona and heartland-inspired songwriter, Bruce Springsteen is the latest artist facing a backlash over exorbitant ticket prices for upcoming tour dates.

Springsteen has been plying his trade for 50 years now and is revered among his huge fanbase, so when the musician recently announced 2023 tour dates — his first tour in seven years with his E Street Band — fans were excited to grab tickets, then shocked to see how much it would cost them.

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Due to Ticketmaster’s “dynamic pricing,” “platinum” tickets were fetching prices as high as $5,000 when they first went on sale.   

Far Out Magazine compares “dynamic pricing” to a market-based model, similar to how airline tickets or hotel bookings are sold, or, more appropriately, to Uber’s surge pricing, where a cost of a ride can fluctuate depending on demand. Depending on the artist, venue or city, if demand is high, then ticket prices can rise aggressively. This allows Ticketmaster to gauge the marketplace as it gouges consumers.

Originally adopted to battle secondary market ticket sellers, Ticketmaster is defending its “dynamic pricing” policy amid consumer complaints. As Variety writes, the company claims that only about 11% of Springsteen tickets fell under the variable-priced “platinum” category, leaving approximately 88% of available tickets priced at fixed costs between $59.50 and $399.

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Ticketmaster alleges that, of all tickets sold this far, the average price is $262 and 56% have sold for less than $200.

Springsteen fans are justifiably upset about the ticket costs, but Ticketmaster has been using this pricing method for years.

As Rolling Stone reported in 2018, at the time tickets for Taylor Swift’s 2018 U.S. tour were subject to the “dynamic pricing” model agreed upon by the artist and Ticketmaster. This resulted in wild price variations when fans were buying tickets.  

“If you went on Ticketmaster in January and pulled up a third-row seat for Taylor Swift’s June 2nd show at Chicago’s Soldier Field, it would have cost you $995. But if you looked up the same seat three months later, the price would have been $595,” the magazine wrote.

According to Inside Hook, at the beginning of 2020, “official platinum” tickets to see pop-punk band My Chemical Romance originally priced at $200 were going for up to $1,000 as demand influenced price.

Springsteen himself has remained silent on the subject, however, his manager Jon Landau defended Ticketmaster’s methods. Speaking to The New York Times Landau stated, “In pricing tickets for this tour, we looked carefully at what our peers have been doing. We chose prices that are lower than some and on par with others.”

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“Regardless of the commentary about a modest number of tickets costing $1,000 or more, our true average ticket price has been in the mid-$200 range,” Landau added. “I believe that in today’s environment, that is a fair price to see someone universally regarded as among the very greatest artists of his generation.”

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Springsteen fans will spend whatever it takes to see their working-class hero play live, no matter how excessive. Unfortunately, music fans of all shapes and sizes can scream into the void all they want about “dynamic pricing” — it’s here to stay. Ticketmaster’s market domination remains unchallenged, and artists are bent on making up for lost time and revenue from touring over the past two pandemic-plagued years.  

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.

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