Springsteen live recordings plan sees price resistance from fans
A casual interview mention of the possibility of releasing instant live recordings of Bruce Springsteen shows has blossomed into a swarm of initial pushback on the pricing structure floated by the Springsteen camp in the past week.
The ball began rolling with a conversation that Springsteen manager Jon Landau had with longtime fan magazine Backstreets regarding the band pushing into new territory with their upcoming South African tour.
"Plans aren't totally hammered out yet, but it's something they want to try, potentially after each show," he told Backstreets' Christopher Phillips, adding, "Bruce is on board with the idea. Active discussions are ongoing and in the logistics phase; there are even hopes to make something happen in time for the next leg."
The initial word was greeted with elation from longtime Springsteen fans, many of whom have avidly collected bootleg live recordings for decades, zeroing in on rare performances that tend to litter Springsteen's setlists over the course of a tour.
Late last week, a press release from Springsteen's publicist confirmed that it was all happening, saying, "On the 2014 tour dates, fans will be able to use new technology to enjoy Springsteen's legendary live concerts. Fans around the world can purchase a special USB wristband, both online and at the tour venues. Starting with the first 'High Hopes' show in Cape Town, South Africa on January 26, they will be able to pick one show of their choice to download on their USB wristband (approximately 48 hours after the show)."
The other shoe dropped quickly thereafter, with Springsteen's merch store unveiling the price of the combined USB drive and wristband, upon which a single show in 320 bitrate MP3 format can be downloaded, would be $40. Per the product listing, fans anywhere can make the purchase and select any available show to download.
The pricing model found friction among active collectors, who'd hoped for a price structure closer to Phish or Pearl Jam ($9.99 per show or even 99 cents for single songs) than Matchbox 20, whose $40 live recording USB wristband Springsteen's is modeled after.
As fans voiced their displeasure via social media channels over the weekend, Backstreets stepped in to mitigate some of the fallout, reporting Saturday (1/18) that they'd contacted a "source close to the tour," who told them that this was not their long-term solution for collectors, but a souvenir product aimed at those fans in areas Springsteen rarely visits, who may only ever see one show. They claim that this will be an evolving offering, and this is just the first iteration.
That evolution may find some runway on U.S. soil, as Springsteen has announced the first U.S. date on the 2014 tour schedule, returning to Jazz Fest in New Orleans on May 3rd, following the current March 2nd end date of his Australia and New Zealand tour leg.
26, 28, 29 - Cape Town, South Africa - Bellville Velodrome
1 - Johannesburg, South Africa - FNB Stadium
5, 7, 8 - Perth, AUS - Perth Arena
11, 12 - Adelaide, AUS - Entertainment Centre
15, 16 - Melbourne, AUS - AAMI Park
19 - Sydney, AUS - Allphones Arena
22, 23 - Hunter Valley, AUS - Hope Estate
26 - Brisbane, AUS - Entertainment Centre
1, 2 - Auckland, NZ - Mt. Smart Stadium
3 - New Orleans, LA - Jazz Fest