People pay thousands to see “Springsteen on Broadway” but Netflix will show it soon

Born to run on Netflix.
Born to run on Netflix.
Image: AP Photo/Invision/Brad Barket
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Picture this: Bruce Springsteen delivering a powerful and personal monologue, interspersed with some of his greatest hits, in front of a small, enraptured audience.

If you had a couple of extra thousand dollars to spend, it could be easy.

Now you can also get taste of it for yourself in Netflix’s trailer for Springsteen on Broadway, the musician’s critically acclaimed performance piece, which hits the streaming platform Dec. 16.

Even though millions will soon be able to watch the show at home—and at no extra cost for Netflix’s 137 million subscribers—some tickets for the actual production are, at time of writing, still going for more than $6,000. In 2017, people were selling Springsteen tickets for $10,000 a piece.

Springsteen debuted at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York in October 2017. Come Dec. 15, after 236 performances, it will be over. The limited run has clearly been enough for ticket scalpers to capitalize on.

Live music is especially lucrative since streaming services like Spotify make recorded music easily accessible with little compensation for the artist. As album sales drop, baby-boomer rockers like Donald Fagen and Billy Joel are making the bulk of their money from tour revenues. With his Broadway show, Springsteen—a huge arena draw for decades—cashed in on this trend.

According to the concert-industry trade publication Pollstar, Springsteen was the 16thhighest-grossing show worldwide in the first half of 2018, with $45.8 million in revenues. Springsteen was also one of 10 baby-boomer rockers who made the list’s top 30, showing that nostalgia, as well as in-person experiences in an age of digital platforms, remain profitable. And since Springsteen is a deep dive into the artist’s mind, exploring even Springsteen’s fraught relationship with his father and his own sense of self, intimacy is clearly a selling point.

The hype around Springsteen is good news for Netflix too, which will rack up views. For Springsteen himself, partnering with the platform is yet another way to diversify revenue streams for his content—Springsteen is already largely adapted from the artist’s memoir Born to Run and an album of the production will also be available Dec. 14. (A strategy fitting for someone nicknamed The Boss.)

Towards the end of the Netflix trailer, Springsteen explains why he wanted to make a life of sharing his music, which Netflix will soon make possible for those who don’t have thousands of dollars to spare.

“I wanted to know my story, your story, wherever we’re going together as a people,” he says. “More than anything else, I wanted to be able to tell that story well to you.”