If you have a Bruce Springsteen fan in your life, they’re probably sad, confused, and cash-strapped. Last month, tickets for the artist’s 2023 US tour went on sale. As usual, demand remains high. This time, the price is the same. Some tickets are listed for thousands of dollars (excluding fees), in part because TicketMaster uses “dynamic pricing” – an algorithm similar to that used for hotel rooms and airline tickets. fly. Initially, fans hoped that this was a misunderstanding, but those hopes were dashed by comments Springsteen’s manager made to the New York Times that appeared to acknowledge that Springsteen himself knew. these types of prices may be taking place.
His failure to sell tickets was more than a public relations crisis.
It raises questions about Springsteen’s reciprocal relationship with his fans and the message he has repeatedly sent about the dangers of unchecked corporate greed. A living embodiment of what he famously called the “American Dream on the run,” Springsteen was never against making money. But shows that are only for the rich – or very lucky non-wealthy fans – seem to violate what Springsteen stands for and could lead fans to question Boss’ commitment to the shows. values that he and his music have embodied over the course of five decades.
Springsteen has spent his entire career engaging his audience in what he calls “a conversation”.
This conversation covered everything from accepting song requests at concerts through homemade signs to showing up at the Jersey Shore.
More than anything else, the live show was at the heart of the conversation between Springsteen/fans. Over the years, he played three-hour concerts – sometimes longer – with a lot of back and forth between artist and audience. From singles to call-and-response to crowd-surfing, Springsteen’s concerts offer a cocktail of joy, humour, grief, charm, honesty, hope, deliverance and – for many – even spiritual awakening.
And it’s not always expensive to get involved. In 1984, tickets to Springsteen’s blockbuster “Born in the USA” tour cost about $15 per person ($42 in 2022 dollars), half the price of Michael Jackson’s summer tour that year. Even as Springsteen tickets have become more expensive over the years, they’re still cheaper than comparable artists like Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and even fellow New Jerseyan Whitney Houston. There are certainly complaints about the cost, but it’s also understandable that Springsteen could charge more if he wanted to and that the prices reflected the inclusive atmosphere he wanted to create at the concerts. mine.
And fans appreciate that, despite his legendary performances, Springsteen didn’t charge the highest. Few musicians work so hard in concert, from squirming across the stage to play to every seat in the arena to jumping on pianos and squeezing sweat from his shirt. This is not Dylan, who rarely speaks during his performances, or Billy Joel, who has a good show but generally stands still behind his piano.
Springsteen’s effort stems in part from a sense of duty he feels towards his audience. He explained in the late 1970s: “You can’t go out there bringing in $7.50 worth of music. “My whole mission is to provide what money can’t buy.” He has even admitted to rampant theft at his concerts and made joking greetings to those who illegally recorded his concerts. He knows he’s making magic on stage, and he understands fans’ desire to capture some of that magic to hear over and over again.
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This approach to his concerts fits very well with the themes and characters that dominate much of Springsteen’s canon. Focusing on the American working class has been around for a long time in his music. “Born to Run” (1975), “Darkness on the Edge of Town” (1978) and much of “The River” (1980) are filled with blue-collar characters seeking personal fulfillment and dignity in the face of with dehumanizing work. For example, the narrator of “Out in the Street”, works five days a week “loading crates off the docks”. Like many of Springsteen’s other characters, he endured hardship, torture, and boredom, waiting for his chance to be himself after the opening whistle blew. When the clock hits 5, he goes to a town where he can “go the way I want to go” and “speak the way I want to”.
In “Nebraska” (1982) and later his breakthrough “Born in the USA” (1984), Springsteen’s characters aren’t just looking for gratification. They are trying to survive in a corporate economy that doesn’t seem to care about their happiness, their livelihood or their community. Factories closed. Men – and all men – get fired without explanation, straining relationships and their sense of self-worth.
Beginning in 1987, Springsteen’s music was generally not focused on the working class (with the exception of the 1995 solo album “The Ghost of Tom Joad”).
Then came the financial crisis of 2007-2008. For Springsteen, already skeptical of whether Wall Street really cared about Main Street’s best interests, the behavior of banks and financial firms represented no less than a betrayal of the public. American people. In 2009, he added the 19th century song “Hard Times (Come Again No More)” by Stephen Foster to his staging list, an acknowledgment of the pain and insecurity that millions of Americans go through. losing your home or losing your job.
He also puts pen to notebook and responds with his own music. In 2012, he released “Wrecking Ball,” whose title was a metaphor for what he called the “complete destruction of some fundamental American values” that had occurred since the late 1970s.
For Springsteen, the financial crisis was not a one-time event. It’s an expression of greed that has been widespread in American history and was also particularly acute in the late 20th century. Springsteen’s America has a range of different values, encapsulated in the title of the opening song in his 2012 album: “We Take Care of Our Own.” The state has an obligation to take care of its people but has failed to do so. The clear message resonated. The song was used as the anthem for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and was played in 2020 after Joe Biden’s victory speech.
Springsteen’s politics, his attention to the working class, and his anger over Wall Street’s behavior are what made the ticket price for his 2023 tour a “crisis”. trust” for fans. Even if only a small percentage of tickets are priced dynamically – as Ticketmaster emphasizes – after half a century, charging at full market price seems like a betrayal to Springsteen loyalists. Both the artist and his art have long recognized the dangers of an unregulated market devoid of man’s best interests. While never opposed to capitalism, Springsteen has voiced his objections to the rich and powerful taking care of themselves, which is exactly what is likely to happen when his tickets go on sale.
In the end, the adoption of dynamic valuation will probably be a small bright spot for Springsteen’s legacy, one that will keep die-hard fans without sacrificing their unconditional love for their fans. they have been with for decades. This could be his last tour and even if he stops performing, his music will continue to ring out as a testament to the working class struggle and as a call to action. call for an economy that works for everyone.
In “Land of Hope and Dreams”, Springsteen invites the audience to accompany him on a fateful train ride to a place where “dreams will not be hindered” and “faith will be rewarded”. As conductor, he offers a clear invitation, one that reflects what his music stands for: “You don’t need a ticket / You just need to get on board.”
Jonathan D. Cohen is the author of “For a Dollar and a Dream: The State Lottery in Modern America” and co-author of “Long Walk Home: Reflections on Bruce Springsteen.”
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/how-high-ticket-prices-are-casting-doubt-on-bruce-springsteens-values-and-bond-with-fans-41904868.html How high ticket prices are raising doubts about Bruce Springsteen’s worth and attachment to fans