2 Ways to get rid of discounting on Broadway forever.

I promised this blog for yesterday, then bumped it to today.

And now I feel like a guy who is about to tell a joke and quickly realizes his audience has heard it before.

Because my two ways of decreasing discounting on Broadway are not that revelatory.  In fact, they are so simple, you’ll probably want to electronically punch me in the face for hyping the thought that I had a from-the-mountain-top type of answer to solve Broadway’s discounting ills.

So, without further a-doo-doo, here they are:

1.  Make better shows.

Great shows sell tickets.  Full price tickets.  Now the real question is, “What makes a show ‘better’?”  As I’ve said before, people aren’t price resistant . . . they are value resistant.  They have no problem paying full price plus some when they feel the value of the experience outweighs the cost.  What increases value?  Great writing, big stars, big belly laughs, sloppy tears, spectacle, etc.  It varies for every audience.  Find out what your audience values and do more of that.  If you want a clue as to what the Broadway audience values, well, that’s easy . . . just look at what shows sell out and at full price.  You might not like what you see, but that’s the story, morning glory.

2.  Produce less shows.

There are a pretty fixed number of people that see Broadway shows every year.  It varies by a few percentage points every year (and this year it’s going back in the right direction, thank whomever you pray to), but it stays somewhat constant.  If we reduced our supply for those wanna-see-a-show folks, discounting would decrease, because customers would end up fighting over seats, rather than waiting to get a discount offer in their inbox.  Less supply, greater demand.  It’s Econ 101.

So there are my two ways to get rid of discounting.  What do you think?  Want to e-punch me yet?  I kind of do, because they’re both “duh” ideas.  #1 – We’re all trying to create better shows, right?  No one sets out to create crap (although I do think we can get a lot better at remembering who our audience is before we spend a few million bucks).

And #2?  People aren’t just going to stop producing. And that’s the great thing about this country, this city, and our business.  If you’ve got an idea that you’re passionate about–so passionate that you can convince other people to follow you and put up a few million (and you can get a theater)–well, then, by golly, you should be able to produce your show.  But, since there are only a fixed number of people that see Broadway shows per year, and since there seems to be more available theater seats than that number, you best be prepared to discount.

Discounting is here to stay (and actually it ain’t that new, it’s just more out in the open).  The modern consumer doesn’t just want a discount, they feel entitled to one.

So trying to get rid of discounts altogether is futile.

What we can do is get a lot smarter about how we use them.

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.