Bruce Springsteen fanzine shuts down after 43 years as his ‘blue collar’ fans became ‘dispirited’

Author: Yuvi February 7, 2023

A leading Bruce Springsteen fanzine has announced it will cease publication after 43 years because the artist’s fanbase became disillusioned by unaffordable concert tickets.

Backstreets magazine said both its editorial staff and fans had become “dispirited” and “downhearted” after prices for some tickets to the artist’s 2023 arena tour reached $4,000 each last year.

‘These are concerts that we can hardly afford; that many of our readers cannot afford; and that a good portion of our readership has lost interest in as a result,’ wrote Christopher Phillips, the magazine’s editor-in-chief and publisher.

‘After 43 years of publishing in one form or another, by fans for fans of Bruce Springsteen, it’s with mixed emotions that we announce Backstreets has reached the end of the road,’ he began a note on February 3.

Backstreets, a leading Bruce Springsteen fanzine, has announced it will cease publication after 43 years because the artist’s fanbase became disillusioned by unaffordable tickets

Some tickets for the artist's 'Springsteen and E Street Band 2023 Tour' cost thousands of dollars due to Ticketmaster's 'dynamic pricing' system which saw ticket prices fluctuate in accordance with demand.

Some tickets for the artist’s ‘Springsteen and E Street Band 2023 Tour’ cost thousands of dollars due to Ticketmaster’s ‘dynamic pricing’ system which saw ticket prices fluctuate in accordance with demand.

Although Phillips emphasized the magazine’s continued appreciation for Springsteen and his work, he was quick to point out that fans had their ‘heads and hearts’ affected in the aftermath of the US ticket sales controversy last summer.

Mid-floor tickets for the ‘Springsteen and E Street Band 2023 Tour’ were going for $4,000 to $5,000 each on Ticketmaster, with less desirable seats still fetching more than $1,000.

It was a result of Ticketmaster’s ‘dynamic pricing’ system which saw tickets fluctuate in price based on demand. The pricing mechanism enables the company to sell tickets for their market value directly to buyers, thereby eliminating resellers.

The Springsteen fanzine Backstreets was started in 1980 and has been around for 43 years.

The Springsteen fanzine Backstreets was started in 1980 and has been around for 43 years.

Other artists including Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, and Drake have faced similar criticism for using the system.

‘There’s no denying that the new ticket price range has in and of itself been a determining factor in our outlook as the 2023 tour approached,’ wrote Phillips, who began working for the magazine in 1993, aged 22.

‘We simply realized that we would not be able to cover this tour with the drive and sense of purpose with which we’ve operated continuously since 1980. That determination came with a quickening sense that we’d reached the end of an era.’

Last year when the ticket price controversy flared up, Backstreet’s editorial staff appeared incensed.

‘From our point of view, this so-called premium, algorithm-driven model violates an implicit contract between Bruce Springsteen and his fans, one in which the audience side of the equation appeared to truly matter – and in fact was crucial,’ they wrote.

‘This past week, too many Springsteen fans got thrown to the wolves, pushed aside in a way that seems as unfathomable as it was avoidable,’ they added.

Phillips reflected on that article last week: ‘When I revisit that writing now, it reads like a cry for help; Most discouraging was that six months went by with no lifeline thrown.

Christopher Phillips (left) was the editor-in-chief and publisher of Backstreets and had worked at the magazine since 1993, when he was 22.

Christopher Phillips (left) was the editor-in-chief and publisher of Backstreets and had worked at the magazine since 1993, when he was 22.

The magazine said that unaffordable tickets meant that it would be unable to cover Springsteen's 2023 tour properly.

The magazine said that unaffordable tickets meant that it would be unable to cover Springsteen’s 2023 tour properly.

Springsteen’s humble beginnings in New Jersey and the relatability of his music once earned him the reputation of being ‘the voice of the working man’.

In his early years, Springsteen played at any bar in which he could make money. He earned the nickname the Boss because he would collect and distribute gig money among band members, Andrew Delahunty, the author of the Oxford Dictionary of Nicknames, told the BBC in 2009.

Mark Kemp of Rolling Stone magazine once described Springsteen as ‘a working-class hero: a plainspoken visionary and a sincere romantic whose insights into everyday lives – especially in America’s small-town heartland – have earned comparisons to John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie.’

Despite his huge success and accumulation of wealth, many fans remained loyal to Springsteen throughout his long career for the way he avoided losing touch.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform during their 2023 tour on February 1, 2023, in Tampa, Florida

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform during their 2023 tour on February 1, 2023, in Tampa, Florida

In an interview with Rolling Stone in November, Springsteen defended the high cost of tickets and said that historically he has strived to offer them to fans at affordable prices.

‘What I do is a very simple thing. I tell my guys, “Go out and see what everybody else is doing. Let’s charge a little less. That’s generally the directions,’ he told the magazine.

But he conceded that on this occasion a different approach was taken. ‘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,’ he added.

He also alluded to the dynamic pricing system that saw Ticketmaster charge reseller prices. ‘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?”, Springsteen told the magazine.

In his closing note, Phillips assured readers: “Know that we’re not burning our fan cards, nor encouraging anyone else to do so.” In fact, as diehard music fans, we have every hope of rekindling enthusiasm for what we’ve always believed to be a peerless body of work.

Rave on. We have every hope of meeting you further up the road.

Author: Yuvi

My name is Yuvi, I work as Sub Editor at newscinema.in

7 February, 2023, 12:59 am

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