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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Ticket Prices?

"Detroit Symphony Orcestra lowers single-ticket prices to build its audience."

h/t You've Cott Mail.

I think this is an issue worth frequently investigating. What is the impact of ticket price on attendance? I tend to think that the relationship between an audience and price is nuanced. A lower ticket price does not automatically build an audience who assume they're getting a deal: they may simply see something as being devalued.

Case and point: I love DVDs. I love to buy them and collect them. I just walked through a store near New York University where DVDs are being sold for $7.99 or less. Lots of things I used to consider expensive, special-editions, two-disc sets. The message I received was not that I could get lots of great DVDs for less money...but that DVDs are less valuable than they once were. I walked out having bought nothing, even a little depressed.

On the other hand, if you wildly overprice, you might fail to reach your audience as well. You couldn't adequately price an iPhone Ap at $19.99 and expect it to gain traction. Heck, even a small price increase for the invaluable New York Times online caused people to think the paper was committing cyber-suicide. There is a range of acceptable pricing that we agree upon, and that price has an acceptable ceiling.

So... the logic that most give is that theater tickets, from Broadway to Off-Off Broadway, are generally high. But the solution some offer is free theater, which seems to miss the point.

What do you think? How do ticket prices impact audiences, in your experience? When is a price reduction smart? When do deals work?


KatGB said...

I will not pay full price for a Broadway show when I can see two or even four shows for the same amount of money! BroadwayBox.com has the discount codes for everything that has a discount code, and I'm a member of tdf.

Now, I do know that shows on tdf are struggling to fill the house, but since straight plays frequently have that problem (sorry Matt!), it doesn't affect my perception of the play itself. I'm just excited to see the play AND be able to eat dinner too!

RLewis said...

I think we just have to remember that for most culturally un-inclined, those with no history of participation, attending arts and performance is akin to being made to eat your vegetables. They're not going to show up no matter what the price. So, it's not about cost; it's about value. The vast majority of the US population does not value such experiences, because they have no tradition of participation, and that's okay I guess. I prefer to charge those who do just a lil' bit more.