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From: Steve Stewart

Subject: Re: Too Much Springsteen / Ticketmaster Boycott

Date: July 26, 2022 at 8:05:14 PM PDT

I have a quick Ticketmaster story for you, Bob – Back in the mid-90s, when I was managing Stone Temple Pilots, I was in close touch with Kelly Curtis, who was managing Pearl Jam. Kelly’s tour accountant, The Goon, figured he could do an end-run around Ticketmaster and the high service charges they slapped on every ticket. The STP guys were concerned about high ticket prices as well, and always pushed for a percentage of tickets to be sold for about $16 (this was the 90s!), as a “gesture” to their fans. The issue was the service charges ended up being more than 25% for these modestly priced tickets. 

So, Pearl Jam decided they were going to boycott the “evil” Ticketmaster and not play any of their venues (which were most all of the sheds and larger venues across the country). They took a stand in the press, started a boycott, and ended up booking shows in some really unusual (and inconvenient) places. I remember stories of fans driving more than 3 hours to muddy fields in WA state – which turned out to be a nightmare for many. 

I thought there might be a better way, and figured I would go right to the root of all this “evil” – I called and scheduled a meeting with the “devil” himself, Fred Rosen, who was running Ticketmaster at the time. When I sat with him a few days later, I asked him why he hadn’t put anything in place with any of the other managers who had joined the boycott. “You’re the only one who’s called me,” he said. I was floored. Instead of trying to work (or even communicate) with Ticketmaster, they chose to boycott and build their own makeshift venues – at a huge expense to the artists and their fans. 

Fred was as accommodating as could be, and asked me what he could do. I told him that his service charges accounted for more than 25% of our low priced tickets. Could he make the fee a percentage of the ticket’s face value, rather than a flat dollar amount? “Done.” Could he roll the other fees fees back on the lower priced tickets and push them up on the higher priced tickets (as the higher priced buyers could better absorb them)? “Done.” All that in 15 minutes – and it saved us the monumental expense of building staging, sound, lighting, fencing, generators, parking, prota-potties, security, concessions, etc. in the middle of nowhere. We could play fan-convenient amphitheaters with low ticket prices and Ticketmaster still made money on the deal. Everybody won!

Eventually, the boycott fell apart, as the other artists realized that Ticketmaster was willing to work with them – if they would only ask. 

You are right about the money – Ticketmaster is no more evil than your record label or your local hamburger stand – they’re in business to make a profit. They depend on artists to fill their seats, and know where their bread is buttered. Managers and agents are well aware of ticketing prices and potential costs and profits. No one is forcing them to accept deals they don’t think is in the best interests of their artists. Touring accounts for a very large portion of a top level artist’s cash flow – and in my experience, most artists will look for the best paying offer – why wouldn’t they?

Managers and agents work for the artist, and they’re only signing deals with the artist’s explicit approval. I’ve seen situations where I know scalpers were making more in a night than individual band members (band members have to cover expenses) and scalpers are getting “market” value for tickets rather than what artists might think their tickets are worth. I used to walk the venues every night and actually ask people what they paid to get in – the answers were always shocking to me – 10-20X face value was not uncommon in those days. 

Is it greed? Would you sell your house for $500K more than what you think it’s worth, if that’s what someone was willing to pay? I bet most would. It’s just human nature, and will probably always be…

-Steve Stewart

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From: john dittmar

Subject: Re: Springsteen’s Silence

Date: July 23, 2022 at 9:25:22 AM PDT

Hey Bob,

The folks tossing this Bruce ticketing issue around are missing a significant point regarding ticketing controls.

Unless Landau did his deal directly with Live Nation brass, it’s the booking agent’s responsibility! Agencies, more than lawyers or anyone else for that matter, deal with the ticketing world every day and should advise management accordingly. You’re right; Landau and Bruce are grizzled veterans; hard to imagine they have intimate knowledge of how the tech works. 

A dirty little secret is that most managers, regardless of age, don’t fully understand the system. It’s part of an agent’s job to know the ticket system and how it can positively (and negatively) affect the client. That expertise should then provide a breakdown in clear terms to management before any ticket is on sale. It’s part of having a good team around the client.

Maybe the agent red-flagged this, maybe not. However, the buck does stop with the manager, so again, you’re right; it’s on Jon and Bruce’s doorstep.

PS, this will blow over soon, but hopefully a good lesson for all.

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From: John Butler

Subject: Re: The Playlist Fallacy

Date: July 27, 2022 at 4:09:17 PM PDT

Bob,

This is wonderfully written and I thank you for sharing it with everyone. In my post Spotify life I have been evangelizing about never relying on the editorial team to be the arbiters of an artist’s success ever. It’s like I’ve been talking to a wall since I left. I loved the ability to suggest and put artists in our frontline lists, find gold in the never ending soil of new releases each week and spread them out among our worldwide team. That was a privilege but to me it was only the beginning of the journey!  Just like getting an add on a radio station was the beginning of your job (have to thank my old boss Jack Satter for that promotion wisdom!), the same is true.  What was a label, artist, manager going to do or not do with what we may or may not do in a list?  We could put a song in a list and sure the streams may come but it’s downhill without the real artist work.  I can tell you in my post Spotify life how much I advise my colleagues and industry partners to not give god status to the lists, be a good partner, don’t sell your soul for the playlist. Often it’s falling on deaf ears..it’s hard to change and the industry is very willing to look at editorial playlists as a plug and play feature of the business. They are not.  Not a single one of my editor peers at Spotify would ever claim that they do “artist development” so don’t do that to them. A lot, maybe even more than shared here, of streams are produced by people just looking for good music amongst the deep soil of releases. In fact Bob, one of the last playlists I launched at Spotify is called Just Good Music

to tip my cap to those just looking for a good experience. The experience and hope that we could offer a wonderful, easy editorial experience.  They could always just hit play too!

John Butler

Fmr Spotify editor

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From: PAUL TRUST

Subject: Re: The Playlist Fallacy

Date: July 27, 2022 at 4:56:04 PM PDT

Hey Bob,

Let me give you a case study that you might find interesting on several levels.  I have a song that is now platinum and if it’s current rate of streaming continues will be double platinum in 13 months.  This song has NEVER been featured on an editorial playlist.  It’s never been on the radio.  There hasn’t been a dime of promotion.  We are the label so I can attest to the fact there is real money to be made with streaming, IF YOU OWN THE MASTER. It just so happens that the artist of said song became one of the biggest (and maybe most notorious) artists in the U.S.,  and fans found this song.  That’s the key to streaming, once you have exposure it’s the greatest social experiment ever devised at least as it pertains to the arts. It has become one of this artists 10-12 top streaming songs out of a catalog of around 50. 

Oh and who is this artist?  His name is Morgan Wallen.  You know him well.

If you can separate from the noise, get the exposure and build a better mouse trap this social experiment pays well.

Paul Trust

songwriter | producer | mixer

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From: Chris White

Subject: Re: Springsteen/Motley Crue

Date: July 24, 2022 at 6:54:58 PM PDT

Bob –

For the record, Live Nation (or maybe Ticketmaster) sent me an email a week or two ago, spelling out the process through which I could qualify as a legit fan and not a scalper, and earn a spot in the queue before those guys get a shot at tickets. The night before they went on sale, I got another email with details on how to enter the queue with other approved “fans.”

When tix went on sale, I had 2000+ people ahead of me. Within minutes, that wilted away and I was allowed to pick seats. I chose 2 tickets on the lower level midway up, in the first section after the edge of the stage–great seats. $99 each, plus the usual fees, for about $265 total (for the show in Portland). Sweet!

The next day I was at a family picnic thing where a guy a couple of years older than me (I’m 65) was babbling on about how he heard Springsteen tickets were $6000 each. I started to correct him, but why bother? He was fully enjoying his outrage, regardless of what the truth might be.

Chris W.

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From: Dave Murray

Subject: Re: Springsteen/Motley Crue

Date: July 24, 2022 at 8:36:07 PM PDT

Hi Bob, 

I was about 360th in the queue, which only took about four or five minutes to get me to the top. I picked seats at the very back of the arena, for 99.50 each. I was prepared to spend $300 so was happy. The service fees on EACH ticket were $31.60. I think that part is getting lost in the conversation about $5000 tickets.

Thanks,

Dave Murray

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From: Martin Valentine

Subject: Re: Too Much Springsteen

Date: July 26, 2022 at 11:05:47 PM PDT

Spot on Bob. Over these last few days I’ve had endless arguments with supposed Bruce fans. One was desperate to convince me that less than 10,000 tickets had been sold for Edinburgh – and that no standing tickets had been put on sale at all. No amount of me telling him I had three of those tickets in my possession convinced him. Another said nobody should pay more than £25 for a ticket….. living in dreamworld. 

Meanwhile I have tickets for six shows in five countries in Europe, all bought within the first 10 minutes of going on sale, and bought at face value. I’m happy. 

Strangely enough, all the folks bleating on about how unfair it is are the same ones who missed out on that first rush. Stuff ‘em! They either need to now pay up or, for the love of god, shut up.

Martin, Nottingham, UK.

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From: Tom Spitzer

Subject: Re: Too Much Springsteen

Date: July 26, 2022 at 9:29:35 PM PDT

Sports has used dynamic pricing for quite a while. Games with in-demand opponents cost more than games against some team from Florida. It’s funny that I accept that going to an NBA game costs me a couple hundred dollars a ticket, but I resist it for the artists I grew up with. Its an emotional thing, but that’s where we are.

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From: Matt Robertson

Subject: Re: The Springsteen Ticket Fracas

Date: July 25, 2022 at 9:50:22 AM PDT

Look at tickets to Pearl Jam’s upcoming Madison Square Garden show on Stubhub. Seats close $3K a pop – in the nosebleeds!!

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From: Andrew Brooslin

Subject: Springsteen- TM Verified Resale Tickets

Date: July 25, 2022 at 1:39:00 PM PDT

Hi Bob

One aspect of the Springsteen ticket onsale that I haven’t seen discussed is the Ticketmaster Verified Resale. Using TD Garden in Boston as an example, there are blocks of nearly entire rows available in the Loge and blocks of prime seats on the floor available as Verified Resale tickets. With a four ticket limit how is it possible that these tickets were legitimately sold on the open market and those buyers (who ended up buying seats next to each other) just happened to place them all up for sale through Ticketmaster? Perhaps it’s an arrangement with the arena or promoter? Did TM place them straight on the resale market after briefly making them available for sale? The whole Verified Resale has always been a little opaque. Certainly a money maker for TM. They collect fees on the initial sale and more fees on the resale. It’s another layer of this onsale fueling fans frustration and anger at Bruce, Inc. 

Best regards,

Andrew Brooslin

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From: Mark Beaven

Subject: RE: Too Much Springsteen

Date: July 26, 2022 at 6:52:54 PM PDT

Amen. My first thought when I saw Jon commented was, “Why shut your head in the door now?” And why you? Why so after the fact and impotently? Never half apologize or niggle.

There is so rarely a win in opposing a social media framed groundswell or mob. Especially when much of it is comprised of your fans. It is no longer about who’s right, it’s about who has the best or most resonant story. $40k tix, real or no, is a big, mythic indefensible crater to fill. Especially for an Everyman.

These days one lobbies through blinds or other parties in social media. If the temperature suits a win or redirect, you go. If not, you keep your head down and don’t extend the life of the story by commenting. No one has the patience to stay focused long. Look at the Ukraine War.  You pray some bigger disaster comes along and distracts everyone. Today, it’s just a matter of when or redirection. People hire very expensive and seasoned teams to chum the environment, quash the haters’ stories, and provide counterpoint. This HAS to happen real time.

That was Trump’s formula. In a democracy, especially one where there is meaningful leverage of support within the courts, one can keep piling up damages in differing arenas and quickly no one can keep up or stop you. The courts can be stalled for years while someone “rapes and pillages” repeatedly. It’s a real problem and major knife to the throat of our and every Democracy.

If Jon had to speak, he should have fallen on his sword and shared that the metrics got away, this had NEVER happened before, and it’s history. Probably will serve so it never happens again. And…  It’s purely due to the LOVE and COMMITMENT of Bruce’s fans. We LOVE them for it and want to honor that relationship in the framework it always has been. While the level of outpouring in demand for tickets is absolutely what we wanted, these pricing aberations are not at all what we wanted, expected, or stand for.

We look forward to getting out on the road and seeing everyone soon. Peace. Out.

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From: Adam Harrison

Subject: The Latecomer

Date: July 26, 2022 at 2:30:36 PM PDT

I’m at the chapter before the clambake.

I don’t want to do anything else in life but wait for the drama to unfurl.

Tough day working. It’s Tuesday at 230pm and only thing on my mind.

Thank you for the recommendation.

Adam

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From: John Parikhal

Subject: Re: Mailbag

Bob,

To be fair about our generation.

We did multi-task when we listened to music.

We smoked pot at the same time. Made love while we listened. Cooked dinner while we listened. Just for starters.

John

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