Country star Zach Bryan issued a statement on Christmas Eve vowing to find a way to keep ticket costs low and easy to obtain for his yet-to-be-announced 2023 touring, without singling out Ticketmaster by name as a problem, as he often has in the past.
Which doesn’t mean he didn’t find another place to rather more overtly invoke the ticketing giant, very much by name. Simultaneously with his written statement, Bryan released a surprise live album, titled… “All My Homies Hate Ticketmaster (Live at Red Rocks).”
The title of the new album echoes a tweet of Bryan’s from Nov. 15, when, in concluding a long series of missives that had him excoriating the company, he wrote, “I’m fully aware of the Ticketmaster and Live Nation relationship. All my decisions — moving forward — will reflect this and until there is a serious change in the system all my homies will continue to hate Ticketmaster. (Last thing I say on the matter.) Sorry for being annoying.”
That tweet didn’t turn out to be exactly his final word on the matter after all, but fans who share his feelings are amused that he made his “last” statement into the title of a new release that, like his studio efforts from 2022, is bound to rack up massive streaming numbers. Over the last year, Bryan has been not just one of the country’s new breakout stars but one of the most-consumed artists in any genre.
With the new release, Bryan made good on his promise he made while headlining Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheater in early November to put the concert out as a live album. The show took place during an (obviously) unexpected fall blizzard, and included the song “Snow,” performed to the freezing audience’s delight as the storm system dumped just that on them. This Christmas weekend, listeners in most parts of the country will easily be able to picture the near-whiteout at the Red Rocks concert less than two months ago.
Bryan, who almost never does interviews, has been a prolific social media communicator since rising to stardom and has used his platforms in recent months to vow that he would not be going through Ticketmaster for future tours, indicating that he was still at work on finding another way to disseminate tickets. He became the highest profile artist to publicly war against Ticketmaster in such a big way since Pearl Jam in the ’90s; that band, after running into obstacles in finding alternate ways to promote tours, eventually made deals with the ticketing service that the band found satisfied its issues.
In his Christmas Eve social media post, Bryan wrote, “Seems like there is a massive issue with fair ticket prices to live shows lately. I have met kids at my shows who have paid upwards of four hundred bucks to be there and I’m done with it. I’ve decided to play a limited number of headline shows next year to which I’ve done all I can to make prices as cheap as possible and to prove to people tickets don’t have to cost $450 to see a good and honest show … I believe working class people should still be able to afford tickets to shows… I am so so tired of people saying things can’t be done about this massive issue while huge monopolies sit there stealing money from working class people.”
Notably, Bryan added, “Also, to any songwriter trying to make ‘relatable music for the working class man or woman’ (they) should pride themselves on fighting for the people who listen to the words they’re singing.”
Bryan didn’t single out anyone with that comment, but some fans wondered if it was a subtweet meant to echo Bruce Springsteen’s ticketing controversy this year. That superstar artist took heat for allowing Ticketmaster to employ its “platinum” pricing system, where costs for certain tickets are adjustable to go up to what the perceived market value is, in an attempt to claim the extra money that secondary sellers outside the Ticketmaster system might get. When Springsteen finally spoke up on the issue of some of his tickets being on sale through Ticketmaster for thousands of dollars apiece, he indicated that he had no regrets, despite the fan furor, and believed the dynamic ticketing system was fair.
As controversies over its dominance and practices have grown this year, Ticketmaster has maintained that it’s up to artists’ camp to set prices, and that as a corporation it collects little of the tacked-on fees that consumers and, recently, legislators complain about. Artists also have the right not to use the platinum system and cap the price on their top tickets.
In announcing the new album on his socials, Bryan — not one to worry about burning bridges — made sure to wish Ticketmaster a merry Christmas by tagging the company’s handle in the title of the album.
The live album, Bryan’s third release of the year following two studio collections, won’t be the last of what he has in the pipeline for a while. At the end of November, the singer-songwriter revealed that he is working on a 2023 studio album to be titled “Writers and Fighters.”
Bryan got his own Christmas Eve present Saturday when former president Barack Obama picked Bryan’s “Something in the Orange” as one of his 25 favorite songs of 2022.