An idea I don’t know how to execute. Maybe you do?
Ok, problem . . . theater tickets are too expensive.
Solution? Who the @#$% knows?!?
(Actually, the truth is, there are plenty of inexpensive seats to lots of theater, from Off-off Broadway shows to Off-Broadway to yes, even to Broadway shows. When people say theater tickets are too expensive, they’re generally talking about the most in-demand shows and the most in-demand seats on the most in-demand days. Which is the equivalent of saying, “Mercedes-Benz is too expensive! And Telsa, well, don’t even get me started!” Know what I mean? There are other cars to buy and plenty of incentives (i.e. discounts) that make that purchase more accessible.)
Don’t get me wrong, of course, I’d love to see even more affordable ways for people to see theater, wherever that is. I’m often walking up and down the streets wondering how to get more butts in seats, while at the same time paying the high costs of our labor-intensive industry. And the other day, while riding the subway, and watching someone play Mario Kart on their Samsung, I got an idea. . . that I have no effin’ idea what to do with.
So I thought I’d throw it out to all of you.
Another form of entertainment that’s super expensive? Video games. The Mercedes of this industry can be around $60 or higher per game. Now, that may not seem like a lot compared to one orchestra ticket for Hamilton, but when you consider the demographics of the video game purchaser, it might as well be the same.
And this is a special problem for mobile game manufacturers. It has always been challenging to sell a game for a smartphone, because the functionality is less than a desktop, and frankly, there are so many free games available.
So what did the video game companies do?
They added in-game purchases.
You want special features for your character in your favorite middle-ages era role-playing game? Buy ’em for $1.99.
You want to get a tip on your mobile trivia challenge? $.99.
The gaming companies are getting you to in their doors for cheap (or nothing!) and then they find a way to charge you when you’re in the door.
Software companies even have “free versions” to get you hooked and when you want a special feature that makes the software actually function, BAM, you gotta pay.
I couldn’t but wonder if there was an application for this theory in the theater. One could argue that food and beverage or merch income is a version of this idea in action (although on Broadway, we don’t control f&b – all that cash goes to the theater owner). And certainly, we’re not going to stop a show to ask for $5.99 from every audience member to listen to the heroine sing a higher note than what is in the “free” version. (Although I’d love to see this at a charity gala . . . can you imagine waiting for someone to bid $10,000 for Idina Menzel to sing an optional higher note in “Let It Go“?)
What do you think? Is there a way to get butts in seats for less, and then have additional and OPTIONAL income provided by those who want whatever ‘extra’ we have to offer?
I haven’t cracked this yet. And maybe it shouldn’t be cracked.
But sometimes it’s the craziest of all ideas that morph into something that makes sense . . . and cents.
You have an idea?
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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.