3 reasons why Broadway is NOT a part of the Black Friday conversation.

Happy Black Friday!

If you’re a smart shopper, then you’re probably braving the stores (or at least those stores located in the “www” part of town), looking for great deals for the loved ones in your life.

Unfortunately, I’d bet tickets for a Broadway show that you won’t be shopping for tickets to a Broadway show this season.

Don’t worry, it’s not your fault.  We haven’t made it very easy.  And today I’m going to point out three reasons why people shop iPads and air-conditioners and TVs (our dang competition!), but don’t shop tickets.

1.  You Don’t Know Your Friends’ and Families’ Schedules

Everyone wants their gifts to be used, right?  If you buy an ugly tie for your dad, you want to see him wear it, dontcha?  That’s one of the biggest challenge when considering tickets as a gift . . . how do you pick a date?  Mat or eve?  What if your special someone can’t make it?

There are two easy solutions to this one.

  • We need show specific gift cards.  And don’t tell me there are already Telecharge or Ticketmaster gift cards.  There’s no love behind a gift card from a ticketing company.  But a Phantom gift card?  Or an American in Paris gift card?  That says something.  Our ticketing companies don’t make show specific GCs easy possible.  But they should.  I’ve put some workarounds in place for some of my shows in the past, and we’ll be doing the same thing on Daddy Long Legs this year (sign up for the email list to find out how we do it).  But show specific gift cards are an easy way to sell more tickets on Black Friday.  If I had them on Spring Awakening, I could sell a sleigh-load.
  • We need an open exchange policy.  “No Refunds, No Exchanges” is a thing of the past.  Ok, ok, I can understand why people may be resistant to refunds for art (although I’ll be posting some data in a few weeks that proves there isn’t much to risk by offering a refund), but there are only a very small percentage of Broadway Shows (the ones that sell out 8 times a week) that might lose a little by offering refunds (and I think they’d gain a lot more in the long term).  But everyone else?  Let people switch their tickets before they purchase.  Heck, charge them a change fee.  $5, $10 . . . I bet people would pay it.  They do for an airline ticket, don’t they?  Not only could we make a little $ here if we wanted, and make our consumers happy, we could without a doubt sell more tickets, and stay competitive with, oh, every other retail industry out there.

2.  We’re Not In Any Brick And Mortars

We know that online shopping is where it’s at, but on Black Friday, people love to hit the stores.  And Broadway is nowhere to be found.  You can only buy tickets at a Broadway box office . . .  and no one’s walking through there browsing on BF.  What if there were Broadway pop up shops in malls this weekend?  Or what about getting those show specific gift cards in Best Buy and Walmart?  (And don’t get all snooty on me and say that Broadway shouldn’t be in Walmart.  If Apple can put a gift card in a Duane Reade, I think our brand is safe.)  Union regs prevent us from easily selling tickets in other locations, but those rules have to be lightened up if we want to compete on a shopping day like today.

3.  The Deals Aren’t Good Enough

If you want to get attention on BF you gotta offer some amazing deals.  Or at least deals that sound amazing.  I just tested a “Tickets for $1!” headline that converted very quickly (the fine print was that the tickets were $1 when you purchased another ticket – so it was just a creative Buy One Get One).  A little known secret about Broadway discounting is that the theater owners have to approve all discounting, and they don’t let Producers get super aggressive.  I understand why.  The theater owners are charged with making sure we don’t become Walmart, and that requires making sure Producers aren’t bargain basementing their prices.  However, I’m not sure one low price for one show, hurts another.  If there’s a show that people want to see, they’ll pay whatever the price is regardless of what other people are charging.  People still buy Armani suits from Saks because they are Armani suits, even though there is a guy on the sidewalk with a sandwich board selling a suit for $79.  I don’t think I’ll win this argument, but I do think on specific days like Black Friday, these regulations should be suspended, and we should be able to sell tickets for whatever we want . . . especially if they are for January/February!


These thoughts frustrate you, right?  There are such easy ways for us to move more product on a day like today, and right now we’re just not doing it.

Well, the good news is that I’m not the only one who thinks we can do more.

Look at this brand new venture from one of our industry’s top advertising agencies, AKA.  They snatched up BlackFridayOnBroadway.com and have started an annual tradition of deals across a wide variety of shows.  (And yeah, there are some pretty great deals there so check it out.)

Hopefully this will catch on . . . and we’ll start to catch up.  Because people should be talking Broadway on today of all days.

Happy shopping, everyone!


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– Have a question about producing you’ve been dying to ask me?  Sign up for my free Town Hall Teleseminar on 12/2!  Click here.

– Only 68 performances left of Spring Awakening.  Get your tickets today!  Click here.

– Win two tickets to Sylvia on Broadway!  Click here.

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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.