NEW YORK - Eager to see her musical hero Bruce Springsteen in the intimate confines of a Broadway theater, Laura Effinger quickly registered online as a verified fan who would supposedly have dibs on seats.
When tickets went on sale, the website told her she was on standby and to watch her phone for a code.
And so she waited. The notification never came -- but tickets were already being advertised on resale sites for thousands of dollars.
"This is such a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience that it's a very valuable ticket right now. I think it's unfortunate that people are taking advantage of that," said Effinger, who owns a photo studio in South Carolina.
Effinger, who has seen "The Boss" three times before, said she would still fly to New York "in a heartbeat" with her mother if she were able to snag tickets.
Springsteen -- one of rock's most legendary performers who for decades has packed arenas with marathon, fatigue-defying concerts -- on Tuesday starts four months of shows at Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre which has just 960 seats.
Tickets instantly became some of the most coveted in the United States. Hours before Tuesday's opening, seats on leading resale site StubHub were going for as high as $6,000(R82,094.40). Springsteen had been selling the tickets between $75 and $800.
Ticket buyers have come from nearly every US state and 30 different countries, according to StubHub.
Trying to verify fans
Hoping to curb exorbitant resale prices, Springsteen joined leading seller Ticketmaster for its new "verified fan" program -- which uses algorithms to determine if a person will likely go, and then sends a one-time code when tickets go on sale.
Ticketmaster, part of concert giant Live Nation, said it had been successful and that fewer than three percent of Verified Fan tickets wound up on the secondary market.
But that doesn't mean there were enough for everyone who wanted to go. Springsteen needs to play more than 20 Broadway shows to reach the same number of fans he does in a night 15 blocks away at Madison Square Garden.
And no one can stop fans, no matter how devoted to The Boss, from deciding they would rather earn thousands of dollars by selling their tickets.
Effinger, the photographer from South Carolina, said she was not angry with Springsteen -- in contrast to some livid comments seen in online Springsteen fan forums.
"He is trying so desperately to get tickets into the hands of people who want to see him, like myself. Unfortunately, it's failing," she said.
Springsteen already extended his Broadway run once and, reaching out to disappointed fans, started a last-minute lottery for $75 tickets.
The 68-year-old "Born in the U.S.A." singer, whose songs speak of the struggles of working-class Americans, said he decided to go to Broadway after performing in January at the White House -- a solemn concert that then president Barack Obama arranged as a gift to departing staff.
Springsteen told The New York Times last week that he liked the greater intimacy. Unlike his high-octane shows with his E Street Band, Springsteen will perform alone with a piano and guitars.
Finding a solution
Taylor Swift, planning a tour for her upcoming album, has also signed up to Ticketmaster's Verified Fan program.
New York has tried to curb soaring ticket prices through legal means, including banning purchases by automatic "bots" and speculators who do not have tickets in hand.
In a study last year, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said a key problem was that more than half of tickets to major shows are not even offered to the public -- instead being set aside to promoters or other insiders.
To Mark Perry, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank, the issue is a simple one of supply and demand -- people want tickets and there are not enough.
The only way to prevent the secondary market is to increase the number of shows or to price tickets "closer to market value when they are first sold," he said.
"And that is where the resistance comes in as most artists such as Springsteen don't want to be seen as greedy," Perry said.
"I guess they don't always know how to optimize that tradeoff," he said. "They would rather have fans upset that they can't get tickets than to be known as an artist who overcharges."