In his first in-depth comments about fan outcry over the cost of his 2023 tour tickets, Bruce Springsteen has explained to Rolling Stone his rationale for utilizing Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing algorithm for the first time. In a wide-ranging interview, the Boss also confirmed longstanding rumors of a treasure trove of future archival releases.
“What I do is a very simple thing,” Springsteen said of the ticket prices, which in some instances reached $5,000 during the primary on-sale period over the summer. “I tell my guys, ‘Go out and see what everybody else is doing. Let’s charge a little less.’ That’s generally the directions. They go out and set it out. For the past 49 years or however long we’ve been playing, we’ve pretty much been out there under market value. I’ve enjoyed that. It’s been great for the fans. This time I told them, ‘Hey, we’re 73 years old. The guys are there. I want to do what everybody else is doing, my peers.’ So that’s what happened. That’s what they did [laughs].
“But ticket buying has gotten very confusing, not just for the fans, but for the artists also,” he continued. “And the bottom line is that most of our tickets are totally affordable. They’re in that affordable range. We have those tickets that are going to go for that [higher] price somewhere anyway. The ticket broker or someone is going to be taking that money. I’m going, ‘Hey, why shouldn’t that money go to the guys that are going to be up there sweating three hours a night for it?’ It created an opportunity for that to occur. And so at that point, we went for it. I know it was unpopular with some fans. But if there’s any complaints on the way out, you can have your money back.”
Asked how the angry fan response impacted him, Springsteen admitted, “Well, I’m old. I take a lot of things in stride [Laughs]. You don’t like to be criticized. You certainly don’t like to be the poster boy for high ticket prices. It’s the last thing you prefer to be. But that’s how it went. You have to own the decisions you have made and go out and just continue to do your best. And that was my take on it. I think if folks come to the show, they’re going to have a good time.”
Addressing whether he’d use dynamic pricing for future on-sales, he said, “I don’t know. I think in the future, we’ll be talking about it, of course [Laughs]. It changes from tour to tour. We will be coming back. I’m sure we’ll be playing outside somewhat. That’ll be a whole other discussion when that comes around. I don’t want to say anything now, but we’ll see what happens.”
In the interview, Springsteen also spoke in detail for the first time about plans for upcoming vault projects. First up will be a boxed set of five unreleased albums recorded since 1988, a collection Springsteen said will upend the belief that “the Nineties wasn’t a great decade” for him artistically. “I actually made a lot of music during that period of time,” he said. “I actually made albums. For one reason or another, the timing wasn’t right or whatever [and] I didn’t put them out.”
By way of description, he said, “Some of it is older stuff that the band plays on, and some of it is newer stuff where I was conceptualizing during that period of time. It’ll give people a chance to reassess what I was doing during that time period. Also, a lot of the stuff is really weird. There’s going to be people that really … I can’t wait to see the response to some of it [laughs].”
Springsteen is also finally prepared to release a mythical album dominated by drum loops, which he said is “as weird as people think it’s going to be,” but it will apparently not be a part of the boxed set, which should be out “in the near future.”
Elsewhere, Springsteen also said he’s 75% of the way finished with a follow-up to the just-released soul covers collection Only the Strong Survive, that he’s already conceptualized a set list for the E Street Band’s return to the road early next year, and that those shows should comfortably stretch to around three hours in length.