NEW YORK: Bruce Springsteen— one of rock’s most legendary performers who for decades has packed arenas with marathon, fatigue-defying concerts—on Tuesday started four months of shows at Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theatre which has just 960 seats.
Tickets instantly became some of the most coveted in the United States. Hours before the October 3 opening, seats on leading resale site StubHub were going for as high as $6,000. Springsteen had been selling the tickets between $75 and $800.
Ticket buyers have come from nearly every US state and 30 different countries, according to StubHub.
Hoping to curb exorbitant resale prices, Springsteen joined leading seller Ticketmaster for its new “verified fan” program—which uses algorithms to determine if a person will likely go, and then sends a one-time code when tickets go on sale.
Ticketmaster, part of concert giant Live Nation, said it had been successful and that fewer than three percent of Verified Fan tickets wound up on the secondary market.
But that doesn’t mean there were enough for everyone who wanted to go. Springsteen needs to play more than 20 Broadway shows to reach the same number of fans he does in a night 15 blocks away at Madison Square Garden.
And no one can stop fans, no matter how devoted to The Boss, from deciding they would rather earn thousands of dollars by selling their tickets.
Springsteen already extended his Broadway run once and, reaching out to disappointed fans, started a last-minute lottery for $75 tickets.
The 68-year-old “Born in the USA” singer, whose songs speak of the struggles of working-class Americans, said he decided to go to Broadway after performing in January at the White House—a solemn concert that then president Barack Obama arranged as a gift to departing staff.
Springsteen told The New York Times last week that he liked the greater intimacy. Unlike his high-octane shows with his E Street Band, Springsteen will perform alone with a piano and guitars.
New York has tried to curb soaring ticket prices through legal means, including banning purchases by automatic “bots” and speculators who do
To Mark Perry, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank, the issue is a simple one of supply and demand—people want tickets and there are not enough.
The only way to prevent the secondary market is to increase the number of shows or to price tickets “closer to market value when they are first sold,” he said.
“And that is where the resistance comes in as most artists such as Springsteen don’t want to be seen as greedy,” Perry said.
“I guess they don’t always know how to optimize that tradeoff,” he said. “They would rather have fans upset that they can’t get tickets than to be known as an artist who overcharges.”