The Best Derby Marketing Tool You’re (Probably) Overlooking

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Derby Business Tips - AnnouncingBy now, I hope your league knows its best marketing tool: announcers.

This blog is not self-indulgent nor written to over-justify the role of announcing. It’s to dispel the myth that announcing isn’t all that important. I am going to tell you how a lack of good announcers can hurt your league, what good announcing looks like, why “borrowing” announcers isn’t the solution and one way to try out announcers.

What Happens When You Don’t Develop Announcing

A heck of a lot. Six things that could happen if your announcers are underdeveloped or do a poor job:

1. The crowd disconnects from the game. Announcers connect the game to the crowd. Don’t downplay this idea. If you do, please ask someone to kick you. Kicking yourself is totally ineffective. I’ve tried. Takes balance. Doesn’t leave a mark. ‘Nuff said.

2. Nobody knows who you are. The crowd may not know your name or it may be pronounced incorrectly, enunciated poorly, or purposefully “played on” all night. For example, imagine the horror of fans yelling, “Lyin’ Fart” instead of “Lyin’ Heart.” And heaven forbid if the league’s name is never mentioned.

3. The game remains a mystery. The crowd has no idea what’s going on.

4. Spectators will not return. If spectators leave not knowing anything about the game, league or skaters, odds are they’ll never return. Spectators are one-timers while fans come back. Sure, you get their money once, just not twice. Spectator and fan retention is at an all-time low.

5. Long-time fans leave. A change to less-developed or less-known announcers could alienate long-time fans.

6. Sponsors will not renew. Let’s just say, solely as an example, your sponsors never hear their names (I know, that never happens). Worse yet, the name was pronounced incorrectly or used as part of a “harmless” comment. (Now I’m swinging with full sarcasm.) But it’s important. You lose revenue and the goodwill of a local business.

“Bob, What IS Good Announcing?”

I’ll forever feel strongly about my time with the Mad Rollin’ Dolls, ten years go. Our co-founder understood the importance of announcing. The league absorbed Baam Baam, my highly esteemed co-announcer and me. We had roles within committees and league operations open to us, and I loved it.

Based on my routines and ideas adapted from announcers all over the world, here are three ways I define good announcers:

 1. They come prepared. It takes me 8 hours to prepare for Brewcity league night. I compile all the information into one document with everything in the evening’s timeline. Rosters, order of introduction, the charity (including what they represent), team records, standout statistics on skaters, every sponsor (with reads, not just names), names of staff, the entertainment for all three halftimes, upcoming games and appearances. I also add news regarding the travel teams, groups in attendance, anyone we should thank and even the name of our national anthem performer.

Having all this prepared and in order of flow means Doc (my co-announcer) and I rarely miss anything.

2. Good announcers not only know rules, they know the officials’ hand signals. Every announcer should know these. They can be found as rules appendix at the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. Knowing the signals allows announcers to explain the infraction.

3. Great announcers explain the game. There is so much focus on explaining what skaters can’t do (fouls), it can overshadow explaining the game. Explaining the game can be done without coaching from the mic. Early on, announcers were hounded about knowing skater names, rules and penalties. I realized we were leaving out why the skaters did certain things: basic dynamics and strategy. Since then, most of the compliments I receive from fans go something like this, “I learned so much about the game.”

Announcers with great emcee skills own the crowd. By pitching what’s next, keeping excitement levels high and entertaining the crowd, people are less likely to leave early and more likely to return. Plus, they always push merchandise, another under-utilized profit center I’ll cover in an upcoming post.

 How Announcers Learn the Game

Derby Announcing
I have a saying, “You can’t announce what you’ve never seen.”

If you close practice to your announcers, how on earth do you expect them to reach their potential? It’s impossible. An announcer’s ability to learn the game relies on the league. I’ll defer, again, to the Mad Rollin’ Dolls who gave me total access to practice. In fact, coaches allowed us to step onto the track as they were teaching skating techniques, moves and strategy. I would never have known nor continue to dig into the game if not for that experience.

 “Bob, we solved the issue. We borrowed good announcers from up the road.”

Here’s where criticize my own. Most dedicated announcers work for too many leagues. They love it, find more opportunities and hone their skills. So why am I being critical? It’s OK for a while, but it hurts the growth of the overall announcing pool. They take the place of others who should be developed. Eleven years later, I bet the sport still does not have enough accomplished announcers to permanently staff half its leagues.

Borrowed announcers are not yours. An announcer’s home league takes priority. If your game conflicts with the home league, you’re stuck.

Worse, after years of travel, many burn out and stop. Remember, they don’t have a travel budget either. They love you; you show them more appreciation than their home league, who is used to their excellent self (yes, that’s a “Bill and Ted” reference), but you will wind up back at square one.

My rules? I only do events for my home league (Brewcity in Milwaukee), and will help Madison on occasion (my first league and in my backyard). Otherwise, I will only announce for a league if it’s their first-ever bout or if they have dedicated announcers to train. I will arrive early and talk about roles, bring them training materials, work with them that night and be available to mentor at any time. This way, I’ve fixed the issue, not contributed to the problem.

Finding Permanent Announcers

roller derby announcing Don’t give the job to anyone, not even dedicated league members. Every role has a different skill set. Advertise on social media, your site and even in the newspaper. Have tryouts. Be creative.

One of the more popular ways is to get the league together for a night at a sponsor bar. Bring in a DVD of a recent bout and give every applicant a set number of minutes, or jams, to call the action as they see it. It’s not about accuracy; it’s about how quickly they think on their feet. Hand them some sponsor reads to throw in between jams. You can teach them the game later; just make sure they have the skill and personality first.

Training Materials

Make sure every new announcer understands the rules. Download the WFTDA/MRDA rule set. The Association of Flat Track Derby Announcers (AFTDA) also has some helpful material, including the official Announcer’s Handbook (an invaluable resource), which can be downloaded from the front page. It provides an expected code of conduct, and the forums are a great place to learn of upcoming events, to ask questions and keep up with derby changes. They also certify announcers, a requirement to work major WFTDA events.

If questions go beyond that, simply contact me at bob [at] brownpapertickets.com

 

Bob Noxious is a Doer specializing in roller derby for Brown Paper Tickets.

Derby Ticket Blitzing Via Social Media

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derby_big_image-1Online ticket sales low, slow, non-existent? It’s the second post in our derby business tips series and this time, I’m getting social.

“Bob, we use social media all.the.time. And nothing happens.”

I don’t doubt it. But when it comes to social media, it’s not how much you use it. It’s how well you use it.

Common Issues with Leagues and Social Media

-Posting upcoming games is inconsistent.
-There isn’t a link to the ticket sales page.
-You spread the word using only the league’s social media.

Online Sales aren’t Gravy; They’re Meat and Potatoes

“Bob, who cares where ticket sales come from? Online sales are just the gravy on top compared to sales by skaters.”

You can market your event or you can market tickets to your event. Marketing a derby game is like farting into the wind and hoping someone takes notice. Fliers vanish or become unnoticeable. Money spent on late night radio and TV spots has marginal effect. Plus, these efforts don’t provide data for future marketing.

Marketing tickets is totally different. There is a focus on funneling customers right to the “cash register” (purchase page). The goal is measurable and you have data to pinpoint the strongest and weakest geographical areas for ticket sales. Using that knowledge, you can adjust marketing and social media efforts leading up to the event.

Social Media isn’t Over

Don’t put a fork in social media just yet; it’s far from over. Sure Facebook usage purportedly dropped 25%, but that is because of teens moving to Snapchat. Twitter continues to thrive.

Most leagues post to Facebook and Twitter once or twice to promote upcoming games. Fans don’t see this. And what is more compelling? League social media accounts or those of skaters and staff? Skaters and staff are more personable and viable “friends” to sell tickets.

Keep in mind that both Facebook and Twitter promote trending topics. If 50 members of your league post the same Facebook message and ticketing link on the same day, your overlapping friend circle will see the post prominently positioned in their feeds. Maybe those friends share the post to their friends. Use hashtags to target interested parties. It’s as easy as #onetwothree.

Ticket Blitzing for a Standard Game Night

roller derby blog business tips

Ticket blitzing is an organized social media campaign where the entire league and all the event participants coordinate social media efforts, with a designated point person.

One person emails the copy and ticket sales link to the entire league. The language should be creative, under 140 characters and include the tickets sales link (to accommodate Twitter), so that fans are more likely to make a purchase decision.

The coordinator should spot check to see who is participating. The fewer participants, the less effective the campaign.

Establish dates for the social media campaign ahead of time. Three pushes are about right for upcoming games.

Prepare the first big push for immediately after the last game. Get a jump on sales with early bird pricing.

Second push a week prior to your game.

Final push two days prior to the game.

“Sure, Bob. But how do I get league members to get in on this brilliant ticket blitzing campaign?”

Sell the idea to the league. A few points to help make your case:

-Ticket blitzing with social media can save time spent on less fruitful guerrilla marketing tactics.
-If it’s successful, leagues and event producers may no longer need to ask members to sell tickets.
-Blitzing fills their venues and they can buy a small lot of stock tickets for walk-up customers.

Validation

You didn’t just hear it from me. A few words from a grateful ticket blitzer:

“Event is today. Wanted to extend all the gratitude in my heart to you. Your ticket blitzing idea was brilliant. I was unable to coordinate the timing of our team within your advised method, yet tripled the amount of pre-sale online tickets within 3 days. That, by the way, is a record for us. My little 100-person event has turned into an invaluable lesson for 500-person future events.” ~ Saved in SoCal

 

11 Hot, Nerdy, New Burlesque Trends

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game-of-thrones-burlesqueBurlesque isn’t all feathers, tassels and pin-ups. Brown Paper Tickets tickets thousands of burlesque events each year and we love to see all the creative tributes and trends.

Since it’s the season for costumes and creative dress, we tallied the outrageous, salacious, the downright funny and the serious, too.

Nerdlesque

1. Game of Thrones: Burlesque is Coming

We love the tagline for this event: “For the night is dark and full of rhinestones.” Who isn’t watching/reading/talking about Game of Thrones? Game of Thrones burlesque blends fantasy with the farcical. It’s produced by Moxie LaBouche who also put together another nerdy hit: “The Princess Bride: A Burlesque Tribute of Unusual Size.”

2. Comic Book Burlesque
Burlesque performers and superheroes have a lot in common. Both are confident, costume-clad, total bad-arses. Comic-book burlesque takes superheroes right from the page and brings them alive on stage. Get ‘em, Bat Girl.

3. Burlesque and Board Games
Nerd Girl Burlesque gives the audience a tease and then steps down from the stage to play …board games. Sultry Scrabble. Daring Dice. Guests even get to bring in their own games.

Teases and Tributes

4. Tributes to the Late Great ’90s

This 90’s burlesque tribute wins just for the name: Ain’t Nuthin’ but a G-String.

5.  Heavy Metal Burlesque
Big, crazy hair. Sky-high leather boots. Makeup to the max. Metal and burlesque go together like skulls and crossbones.

6. Queen

Get all gussied up and see burly meets the rock ballad with this burlesque tribute to Queen. Mustaches are the only must, real, fake or painted on.

7. Club Fiend: A Misfits Burlesque Tribute

If Queen doesn’t do it for you, maybe a little London Dungeon will. Yes, there is a burlesque tribute to the hey-day of the horror-punk band.

8. Burl-eoke
We know you never get tired of belting out Joan Jett covers at the local dive, but when it’s time to switch up your karaoke night, Burl-eoke is the thing to do.

9. The Pink Room: David Lynch Burlesque

Cast off the rules of linear narrative and into the Lynchian – that is the bizarre, dream-like and hypnotic. Twin Peaks. Blue Velvet. Need we say more?

Horrorlesque

10. Zombie Burlesque
rAAaAA RrAaaAaaA uuHHHH Orr. Fluent in zombie speak? See classic burlesque with an undead twist in Vegas.

11. John Carpenter

‘Tis the season to be out-of-your-mind terrified. Liberty Rose brings acts inspired by the films of John Carpenter. Carpenter was the guy who directed a certain slasher film named after a certain holiday. This is the burlesque show of your nightmares. In a good way, of course.

What’s your favorite themed burly show? Comment away.

Burlesque PR: Attract Media in 5 Easy Steps

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Burlesque-Media-TipsFirst-time burlesque event coordinator? Or maybe you already sell out shows and want to nab the attention of a few media outlets. Media builds fans and boosts revenue. Here are five steps to attracting it:

1. Identify 5 Target Media Outlets

Ask your fans what media outlet they read or watch regularly. The answer is more and more likely to be a blog, a newsletter, a social media outlet, or other non-traditional media. This is good news, as it may be easier to get your story included in non-traditional media.

Tally responses. Then take out media outlets that do not influence your local market because it’s unlikely anyone but locals will buy tickets to your event. The top 5 on this list are your targets.

2. Identify Your Objective Value Propositions

To find your unique value proposition, ask yourself two questions:

What is it about your show that makes new ticket buyers want to spend their hard-earned dollars?

What makes your event worth the price? Ticket at any price, but the higher the price, the more you will need to justify value.

The answers to these questions are what will attract press to cover your event and ticket buyers to your show. Add your unique value propositions to the event title, description and headline of your press release.

Now it’s time to brainstorm, research and highlight your event’s objective (not subjective) superlatives. Journalists rely on facts, not opinions, so your event superlatives must be provable.

Find Your Superlatives

Award-winning performers (specify award and date received)

Largest or only event by any measure? Any metric can be used to make the superlative accurate, but you have to be able to back up your claim in one sentence. (Biggest burlesque festival in _____.)

The event had either more performers, more performances, or more square footage than any other burlesque event in ____.

First burlesque festival in ___ .  Because no one had ever done ____ before.

The press won’t be able to use the following superlatives because they aren’t provable by objective measures:

Wildest
Most fun
Greatest
_____ -est of its kind

3. Localize to the Largest Community Possible

Localize your event to create an attractive angle for the press to cover. Readers and viewers have more interest in what happens to people and places they know.

Add a location name to the title of your event and choose the largest community possible (i.e., the Florida Burlesque Festival would attract more news value than the Ft. Lauderdale Burlesque Festival).

However, if the smaller place of localization generates greater interest, use that. For instance, a Hollywood burlesque festival could sell more than a Los Angeles burlesque festival because of Hollywood’s caché.

How to do it

Get the hometown, neighborhood and professional high-resolution headshot for every performer in the event, and write an email to the appropriate reporter at his/her neighborhood blog (if it’s in your possible attendee coverage area) to alert them about the “hometown girl/boy done good story” with your event as the hook.

BPT_Icons_Bull_Horn4. Make Your Pitch Picture Perfect

Media outlets need good visuals to get clicks, likes and shares. Burlesque has an advantage: sequins, feathers and starlets make stunning visuals. Keep in mind that media outlets won’t normally publish a photo or video unless it’s G-rated.

How to do it

Amp the glamour, tone down the flesh. Invest in professional headshots and at least one full body and one performance photo, with high resolution.

If you are producing a show with other performers, ask them for headshots as soon as you book them for your show. You don’t want to lose a story because you don’t have photography ready.

Make sure your videos are G-rated. Also, television stations aren’t likely to use promotional videos with music, graphics, credits or logos embedded over the video. Hire a videographer to get natural sound, close-up footage and then edit out the more risqué parts to maximize your media coverage.

5. Submit Free Calendar Listings

You have a great localized value proposition. You have an enticing event description and pitch subject line. You included at least one dazzling visual. Time to get the word out.

Calendar listings are the low-hanging fruit of the publicity world. They are easy to get and almost always generate ticket sales (as long as you have successfully done steps 1-4).

Submitting a free calendar listing for your event is simple. Newsletter, blog or The New York Times, every one has an event listing. And you can be part of it if you complete the first four steps and closely follow event submission instructions.

How to do it

Take your new top 5 list. Go to the online events section for every special interest group, blog or media outlet. Search for “how to submit an event” and follow the directions. If you can’t find it, send the press contact a short email that describes your event. Ask the publication if they would write about it or include it in the topics they share with their community.

Poof. You just got press attention in every single one of your top 5 media targets.

Yes, it is that simple. And guess what? Editorial teams look at calendar listings when assigning stories. Therefore, this effort increases the likelihood of an additional story. There are many ways to amp the press for your event. But these basics ensure that the press you get goes further to help you achieve your goals and reach new levels of success.

Photo credit: “The Secret Taboo” Elena Gatti

19 Pearls of Wisdom from the Burlesque World

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burlesque-tips-performers

For years Brown Paper Tickets has worked with and learned from burlesque industry professionals. We’ve interviewed numerous burly pros to uncover words of advice, tips or pearls for those just starting burlesque.

From novice performers to stars like Michelle L’amour, many have been featured on our blog in the past. Enjoy a compilation of their top tips for event organizers, burly performers or burlesque-curious. Find suggestions for putting on a burlesque festival, wisdom for new performers, touring ideas, guidance for starting your own troupe and even pointers for emcees.

Take your shows from so-so to superb courtesy of 19 wise pearls from the wild, saucy world of burlesque.

Performers

1. Take time to learn. Treat burlesque as the art that it is. It takes time to grow and develop into the burlesque star you want to be. Patience, my dear.” ~ Michelle L’amour (Chicago, IL)

2. “[Take] inventory of what you like to see in shows. Determine what really does it for you. It could be pinup, 90’s music videos, politics, food…it could really be anything. If you have a message you’d like to convey, come up with a creative way to show it. Think about what you’d like to share with your audience or who/what you’d like to be when you grow up. Base your personal style on what is really you. Also, watch a million burlesque videos, go to as many shows as you can. Watch burlesque with an open heart and an open mind.” ~ Coco Lectric (Austin, TX)

3. “Go to burlesque shows. Watch lots of different performers with different styles. Take some dance classes, or burlesque workshops, learn some basic moves and have some poses. Volunteer to be stage kitten at burlesque shows, watch burlesque legends on YouTube. Find a mentor, learn how to use a sewing machine, a hot glue gun and a staple gun. Start stock piling crystals, sequins and glitter, get on stage with a veteran performer and join a group. Get a support network.” ~ Lola Rose (Washington DC)

4. “It’s important to remind people that come from a dance background that burlesque isn’t only about dance talent.  Burlesque is about the tease, the story, about entertaining and leaving a little something to the imagination. Of course, it always helps to ‘have a gimmick’ – if you can bring your talent in dance, theater, comedy, magic or costuming with you to the burlesque stage, you’re already one step ahead. To me, it’s about being unique, about being you… but of course, the most glittery version of you.” ~ St. Stella (Toronto, ON)

5. “Make your costume bangin’ from the dress to the undies to the pasties. Whatever you wear needs to scream burlesque. Don’t underestimate the power of face. Tell your story with your face. Bring that attitude. There’s nothing worse than watching a performer who is just going through the motions. You gotta be sexy all the time even when you ain’t.” ~ Ben Wisdom (New Orleans, LA)

6. “Know yourself. Be yourself. Practice one more time.” ~ Mama Dixie (Tuscaloosa, AB)

Event Planners/Producers

7. “Your first show is going to be a success. All of your friends and all of your performers are going to help out for free or pay to come and see it. You can get away with banking on that goodwill once, maybe twice if you’re very, very lucky. Don’t be crushed when your third show crashes and burns. It gets better.” ~ Scratch (Boston, MA)

8. “Put a good, hard-working and motivated team to work on the event with you. This will help support you. Learn from your mistakes and don’t get frustrated. This will keep you sane. Be clear with yourself about what your intention and goals are for the event you are planning. This will help guide you.” ~ Cha Cha Velour (Las Vegas, NV)

9. “While I don’t produce shows or perform as my primary source of income, I still give it the same level of care and professionalism. It isn’t unusual for me to spend 20-30 hours a week working on show stuff; it really is an around-the-clock process. And you have to have the ability to anticipate and plan for as many bad turns as you can and be able to roll with the punches when one comes along that you didn’t anticipate. That’s the mark of a real professional – when something bad unexpectedly happens, you don’t dwell on it. You just put your thinking cap on and say, “Okay, what are we gonna do now?” ~ Mistress Kali (New Orleans, LA)

10. “There are a lot of great venues in [Seattle] and a ton of shows. Find a way to distinguish your show from the others. Use Brown Paper Tickets and G&H Printing; they are both awesome and helpful, and make marketing affordable. Don’t be afraid to join the community. We want to perform in and come to your shows — we just need to know they are happening. Social media is your friend. Think outside the box, be sensitive and caring. And in the words of two of my favorite TV personalities ‘Make it Work’ and ‘Don’t F*ck it Up.’ ~ Whisper De Corvo (Seattle, WA)

Festival Organizers

11. “Producing a show is a skill set that should be mastered before even attempting a large-scale festival. If you can’t turn a profit on a small show, you won’t make it up in volume. You have multiple shows, classes and workshops, vending, volunteers to manage and much more to balance. Make sure you have a great sales team in place, a real plan for the weekend with goals and targets, a good marketing strategy and support from an awesome ticketing company. But mostly, produce because you love it. When the passion is there, the audience finds you.” ~ Lili Von Schtupp (Los Angeles, CA)

12. “It makes me so happy to see more and more cities hosting burlesque festivals. Establishing the San Antonio Burlesque Festival helped make our local burlesque community become a lot stronger. There was a big sense of unity and pride after the festival. As far as advice goes, if you are a performer taking the role of a producer, remember to keep your personal preferences in mind when producing but don’t let it rule your decision making. Really focus on the overall picture and try to give your audience the best show possible.” ~ Jasper St. James (San Antonio, TX)

13. “It’s a lot of work. Seriously. Make sure you have a solid team you are working with, and get a good promoter. You will have many obstacles that fall in your lap, so it’s important to stay calm and breathe. Just remember that. Oh, and have fun.” ~ Valencia Starling (Detroit, MI)

Troupes

14. “Being in a troupe takes more work than most people realize. We work hard to put out five different and unique shows each year that include new solos, duets, and group acts. As a soloist or hobbyist, it’s a easier to create numbers and then figure out what shows you may fit in, as opposed to tailoring acts for a show. It has taken a long time to get to this place, but we now have a great group of committed performers willing to work together toward a common goal and put in all the work needed for booking, producing, advertising, etc.” ~Ginger Snaps (Austin, TX)

15. “Make sure to make it clear who is making a final call. If you want a good troupe, you need good leadership and the ability to make tough decisions. This can mean saying no to a friend or disagreeing with a dance move or costume choice. In my opinion, one of the biggest differences in making a themed show with a bunch of independent performers and a troupe show has to do with content. It must be cohesive and feel like everything is planned and intertwined. Having a clear leader helps from getting the group stuck since everyone is always very different. Have fun with it and make sure you like who you are with.” ~Holly Dai (Portland, OR)

Touring

16. “The best advice I can give producers taking their show on the road is to give themselves enough time. Plan in advance, and plenty early! There is a LOT to consider when taking a professional show out on the road for several weeks. Lots of different factors come into play. Each venue books differently, each burlesque community performs and works differently, and there are a heck of a lot of logistics to figure out. Luckily, I am OCD when it comes to business preparedness and I’ve got a form, document or contract for everything. Definitely dot your I’s and cross your T’s as the more concrete you can get everything in advance, the less surprises and unaccounted for factors will arise later. You are always on the go, so if you don’t have the organization and infrastructure to back it up, you’re setting yourself up for failure.” ~ Deanna Danger (Richmond, VA)

17. “The most valuable piece of advice I can give to a burlesque troupe that wants to go on the road is taking the time to understand the dynamics of the city you are considering and getting to know the local pool of performers is really important. Building those great relationships before is really key to having a full venue when you arrive.” ~ Donna Touch (Chicago, IL)

Applying to Festivals

18. “I can’t stress how important a good quality video is to us in our application process. We get close to 400 applications each year. Many performers send us video that we simply can’t see or hear, or send us a studio version where there is no audience reaction. Even though these videos tend to be higher quality, it is ideal for us to hear and see the audience reaction as well as view a high quality video.” ~ Jen Gapay (New York, NY)

Emcees

19. “For burlesque emcees: shut up. I had to learn that the hard way. Be concise, funny, and charming. Then get that next act out there ASAP. The audience will love you a whole lot more for it.” ~ Ben Wisdom (New Orleans, LA)

Photo credit: Audrey Penven

Burlesque Ticketing 101

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BPT_Burly_Ticketing_Front-01Brown Paper Tickets supports event organizers, producers and performers with free advice, services and ticketing tools. We ticket thousands of burlesque events every year. In fact, more burlesque events than any other ticketing platform. We’re crazy about burlesque.

As Burlesque Representative, I assist performers and producers in setting up and promoting their shows. Here are seven pieces of advice I commonly give when I talk about burlesque ticketing:

1. Use Your Own Credit Card Processor

Budgeting for your show can be a challenge. Often, burlesque producers operate on a shoestring budget and desperately need the money from ticket sales to pay out-of-town performers, venue fees, promotional costs, etc. If having cash in hand the night of your show is an issue, I stress that with Brown Paper Tickets, you can use a third-party processor, like PayPal (probably the most popular) and we’ll give you 2.5% of our 3.5% processing fee paid by the ticket buyer back to you, the producer. This means you get the full face value of your tickets as they’re sold. Plus, you get a little bit extra to help offset the fees your third-party processor charges.

2. Use Brown Paper Tickets’ Promotion Help

With all you’ve got going on around show time, promotions is one of those things that might slip. Don’t let it. We take a close look at your promotional plan and suggest ways you can improve it. We’ll help you build curated media lists for your area. We’ll send out tweets for you. We’ll edit and refine your press releases so that they are more effective in getting media placements, even coach you on TV or radio appearances. It all depends on your needs. And we won’t insult you by offering placement in mass e-mails, which most people delete immediately. With us, you’ll have a dedicated team of event specialists to get the most out of your promotional campaign. I suggest that you contact us at least six to eight weeks prior to your event to get the best results from your campaign.

3.  Offer Limited-Time Price Reductions

Many producers don’t like offering discounted tickets as they feel it will cut into their total take. But I’ve found that limited-time price reductions create a sense of urgency and you’ll pull in folks who may not have considered attending otherwise. It’s the whole “It’s on sale! I HAVE to buy it.” philosophy. The best times to offer discounts are either right when you announce ticket sales (early bird discounts) or on a significant day. For example: “It’s Gypsy Rose Lee’s birthday and we’re offering a special discount to all burlesque fans in honor of her memory.” Something along those lines. Trust me, you’ll see a spike in sales.

4. Offer Special Discounts to Your Mailing List

Show your devotees a little extra love by offering the first opportunity to purchase tickets to your shows. While you’re at it, give them a special perk like a glass of champagne, discounted VIP seating, maybe some merch. Whatever you can do to show your fans how much you appreciate their support will only endear you to them more and ensure their loyalty over time. Loyal fans are the best advertisement a burlesque performer could have, so throw a little money their way. Trust me, next time they’ll bring their friends.

5. Bundle Tickets with Merchandise

Speaking of bundling merchandise, it’s easy to offer a special price that includes some form of merchandise with their tickets. This will help you move merch and expand exposure to your brand while also saving you from having to sling merch after the show. Some merch ideas: branded drink tokens, signed posters, branded panties, t-shirts or even flasks. Merch is a great way to get your brand out in the world and if done well, can become an extra revenue stream. Just inform your door person that ticket buyers will receive something extra at the door, based on price points.

6. Offer Group Packages

Over the years, burlesque events have become increasingly popular with bachelorette parties. Consider the bachelorette angle when marketing your event. One way to encourage bachelorettes or other groups to come to your shows is to offer a group package. Think birthdays, tourist groups or bachelorette parties. Even better, develop a relationship with local wedding planners or concierges. Consider offering a percentage of the packages they sell so that they have incentive to encourage their clients to attend your events. These relationships can become super valuable and get you high-paying gigs outside the burlesque circuit, like corporate events or private parties.

7. Customize Your Producer Profiles

If you organize multiple events, let your fans see all your shows on your producer profile. Customize the page to match your branding or even better, have our tech team create a skin for your profile page that matches the look and feel of your website. Then your producer page can basically replace the calendar on your website and folks never have to leave your site to see all your shows and get tickets. If you want more information on how to create a customized producer profile, contact our Client Services department and they can get that started for you.

Any burlesque questions or need help? Please contact me directly at jimmy[at]brownpapertickets.com.

How Round Table Tours Became a Top Tour in Montreal

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Montreal's Round Table ToursYou already know poutine, the cheese-curd and gravy comfort food. No? Someone needs to take a trip to Montreal. But poutine is only the beginning. Stacked smoked meat sandwiches. Arguably, better bagels than New York (easy, New Yorkers, we said arguably). Ice wine. Soft cheeses from provincial farms. Craft brew a plenty.

Who’s Ready for a Food Tour?

Founded only a few years ago, ‘Round Table Tours (Tours de la Table) is already Montreal’s number two activity on Trip Advisor. It is popular not only with tourists, but hard-to-impress foodies who live in the city.

Maybe it’s because tour owner and operator Mélissa Simard is bright and personable. Or maybe because she takes visitors to “forbidden” places – behind the kitchen, into neighborhoods well off the tourist track and to food production sites. Or maybe it’s her long list of accomplishments: A degree in Canadian Studies from McGill University and a diploma in professional cooking from St-PIUX. Winning “Best Female Entrepreneurial Project of Montreal” in 2013. A history working in top restaurants.

‘Round Table Tours is definitely doing something right. Whether you’re thinking of organizing your own tour group or looking for a good food tour, take a cue from Simard.

The Lightbulb Goes Off

Simard got the idea for the tours after cycling from Seattle to California, popping into eateries along the way. She felt burned out from years of working in restaurants and the trip provided a much-needed break. “I thought, this is so nice, people should do it all the time,” she says.

An idea was born: exceptional food tours with a rare look behind the scenes. Get guests in the kitchen and talking to chefs. Go to breweries and tea shops, to chorizo producers and rooftops to explore urban farms. It’s the unexpected, the underground, the “how it’s made” stuff that resonates with people.

Yum…

Food Tours Montreal Many food tours offer an overview of the region, small bites with a heavy dose of history and attractions. ‘Round Table Tours does it different. Simard wants her groups to “come in with an open mind, see things they’ll never see.”

According to Simard, the tours focus on important, iconic food that shaped the city. A taste of the Iberian Peninsula by way of Spanish tapas, Portuguese petiscos and Basque pintxos. A sampling of Montreal Jewish food from family-owned diners, delis and bagel factory. An eat and ride that explores Montreal’s emerging food truck scene. For the hungry but health conscious, there’s the Living Table Tour, which zeros in on the city’s green scene.

Tour-goers can expect the equivalent of a seven-course meal. “No one leaves hungry,” Simard says. Or thirsty, we suspect as most tours include wine, tea or coffee.

In-depth knowledge of the culinary scene and long-standing connections to the restaurant world helped Simard create her vision. But as the saying goes, anything worthwhile comes with challenges. Like many tour operators, Simard has extensive knowledge about her passion – food, but no prior business experience. “I don’t have a business background. It’s been trial and error,” she says. And she’s busy, running at least three or four tours a week, six in the summer.

As for expansion? Simard would like to set up ‘Round Table Tours in other cities, perhaps in British Columbia or maybe in one of those hamlets dotting the Quebec countryside. But there are no immediate plans. “We’re still growing in Montreal,” she says. If you’re headed to La Belle Province (lucky), find the tour for you.

14 Best-Kept Roller Derby Recruiting Secrets

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roller-derby-recruiting-steel hurtin' copyBrown Paper Tickets is proud to present our new roller derby blog series. Take a rink-side seat as we explore the business side of derby with Bob Noxious, a veteran of modern derby. Bob will share lessons learned, advice and tips to make your team or league even more fierce. Our resident “Derby Answer Man” has a BBA in business management and over a decade of experience announcing bouts. Read more about Bob Noxious.

Take it away, Bob.

Derby’s biggest recruiting issues

Today, I’ll dispel roller derby recruiting myths and provide improvement tips. And at the bottom of the page, you’ll find a four-minute video created by Brown Paper Tickets. Watch it and feel free to use it during your functions or share on social media.

Finding fresh meat is one of the most difficult tasks a roller derby league will face, especially in the beginning. Successful recruiting is a continuous, machine-like process. You probably already know the biggest contributor to recruiting breakdowns: letting it stop.

Don’t push the league so quickly

Roller Derby RecruitingBob, though we have a mix of both new and tenured skaters, we’re proud we took time to build our membership, train patiently, and design a method of continual recruitment to keep skater numbers where they need to be.”

Yeah, right. And I’m a 24-year-old Brad Pitt.

The problem:

1. Leagues push too quickly to play. Once they begin play, they lose focus on recruiting. It takes 30 skaters to sustain an inter-league team. You will start with 20 trained skaters. You roster 15, play a few bouts, skaters get hurt, quit, can’t travel and suddenly that 20 skaters becomes 10. You’ll skate 10 and that number quickly becomes seven or eight. Now you can’t skate without borrowing skaters from another league – and don’t do that or you’ll never fix the problem.

2. You push new skaters to play too soon. Under conditioned and under trained equals injury.

3. And as you face these issues, what recruiting is happening? After years of seeing this same problem, I’m guessing none.

Recruiting never stops

Remember, training new skaters doesn’t have a season.

4. Generally, the core group of original skaters will produce ones who can teach skating and conditioning all year.

5. Some leagues have a separate “new skater” practice night for training, which works well. There’s no competition for practice space and new team members tend to feel more comfortable around those with the same learning curve.

6. If these practice nights have skaters coming in and advancing to the tenured group with regularity, the class can go on all season. You shouldn’t waste time, energy, and potential space rental on training two people, but small leagues can maintain a group of 5 to 10 newbies.

My experience with skater trends

7. Derby doesn’t have a strong history with universities, as undergrad students rarely surface. I spent nearly six years in Madison, WI, one of the largest university towns in the Midwest (student population over 40,000) and can only recall one undergrad skater from the school.

8. The college students who join leagues are typically non-traditional students working on post-grad degrees or returning to school at a later age.

9. Reach beyond your immediate community. Skaters are willing to go the distance to play with a league. A 60- to 90-minute commute to practice is not unheard of.

Want to attract new team members? Hire a babysitter

10. It’s shocking how few leagues cater to athletes with kids. This deters many from starting or causes them to start and quit. Offer free babysitting during practice hours as a perk. Moms skate too. Well ok, not my mom.

For crying out loud, reach out and sell your sport.

11. Host a “Skate with the Skaters Night.” Roller derby leagues charge about a $5 entrance fee to skate with derby women or men over a 3-hour period. Anyone can attend, but it’s also a way to get league members talking to curious skaters about signing up.

12. Make appearances at town/city functions. A table at a local festival is cheap, if not free. You can recruit at these town functions and they give you more exposure to the community, which grows your audience. Wear your uniforms, including your skates. Do short, demo scrimmages in the parking lot or street and become part of the entertainment.

13. Prepare a kit and take the following to your recruiting events:

-League banner
-Photo album from bouts, with your best shots. Try to include photos with fans and kids.
-League schedule
-Recruiting info for skaters, refs and volunteer positions
-Advertising opportunities
-Newsletter sign-up sheet
-If there will be power, take some of your better bout footage to play on a small TV.

14. Be creative in your recruiting. Have themed recruiting events: bar party, rummage sales, restaurant tasting event or “Ask a Derby Skater” nights.

(Photo credit: Feed My Kids Productions)

 

12th Annual New York Burlesque Festival

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NYBF_2014Jen Gapay and Angie Pontani are no slouches. Not only have they created the biggest and grandest burlesque festival of its kind in the New York Burlesque Festival, now celebrating its 12th year, but they both have very impressive resumes outside of the festival.

As a performer, burlesque extraordinaire, Angie Pontani, “The Italian Stallionette,” was a key player in establishing NYC’s burlesque scene. She won burlesque’s most prestigious award, “Queen of Burlesque, Miss Exotic World” in 2008 and has toured multiple runs in the United States, Italy, Australia, Spain and Hong Kong, earning the title of “Best International Touring Artist of 2009,” by The Naked City/Alternative Media Group of Australia. As a producer she has produced the 2010 Burlesque Hall of Fame’s The Titans of Tease, the 53rd Annual Striptease Reunion Showcase and the Saturday Night Competition. She was co-creator of the off-Broadway hit, This is Burlesque as well the on-going U.S. tour, Burlesque-A-Pades, starring the “#1 Burlesque Attraction in the Nation”(AOL.com), The World Famous Pontani Sisters. Angie will also be featured in the PBS series Great Performances, performing live at Lincoln Center with Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett. This is scheduled to air on PBS on October, 24, 2014.

Jen Gapay is the founder of Thirsty Girl Productions, which debuted in 1997 in Seattle with Capitol Hill Block Party, now one of the largest annual urban music festivals in the country. From 2000 to 2002, she was the Promotions Director at the Village Voice, where she created and produced the Siren Music Festival at Coney Island. Other notable accomplishments include the New York Boylesque Festival, which she co-produces with famed NYC producer Daniel Nardicio, and the Coney Island Talent Show, now in its fourth year. She was also the artistic director for the Dresden Dolls’ F**k the Back Row tour in 2006 and talent coordinator for several of their tours in the USA, Europe and Australia. This is just a smattering of what she’s done.

From Thursday, September 25th to Sunday, September 28th, they’ll host the 12th annual New York Burlesque Festival. You can pick up full festival passes from Brown Paper Tickets HERE, and we advise you grab some ’cause they’re going quick.

We were able to chat with Angie and Jen about the festival and burlesque in New York. Jen shared some advice to event organizers and producers considering having a festival.

Wow. 12 years is quite an accomplishment. What do you feel is the secret behind the festival’s success and longevity?

Jen Gapay: Thank you. I feel that having the festival in NYC has helped the festival grow.  Everyone wants to come to New York to visit and everyone wants to come to New York to perform and that has been extremely helpful. Also Angie and I work together well as producers, run a tight ship and know how to put on a good show, so our festival has a good reputation from performers and patrons and you can’t buy that.

What performers are you especially excited for this year and why?

Jen Gapay: I am particularly excited to see Imogen Kelly from Australia perform this year. She is an amazing performer who is known as Australia’s Queen of Burlesque and also took the title of Queen of Burlesque in 2012 at The Burlesque Festival Hall of Fame Weekender in Las Vegas. She has a variety of styles and is a very visual performer, and one not to miss.

It seems that the line-up of performers is more focused on performers from NYC.  Do you feel that the pool of talent is growing in New York as burlesque becomes more popular?

Angie Pontani:
Our line-up is definitely chock-full of NYC performers, but how could it not be? New York City is home to the biggest and fastest growing burlesque community in the world, we have an insane wealth of talent here. I think that is in part to burlesque becoming more popular and also because this is New York, a thriving hot bed for the performing arts as well as one of the birthplaces of the new-burlesque resurgence. But the festival also brings in performers from around the globe. This year we have folks from Australia, Helsinki, London, Canada, New Zealand and more, not to mention representation from just about every state in the union.

Do you feel that your audiences are made of predominantly New Yorkers or do folks travel to come to the festival every year? 

Angie Pontani: We get a good amount of New Yorkers, but there are a lot of people who come to town for the weekend, some make it an annual tradition. If you’re a burlesque fan,  what better vacation can you have then catching your favorite performers from around the globe right here in the Big Apple?

How has the New York burlesque scene changed since you started the festival 12 years ago? What makes the New York scene unique?

Angie Pontani: The scene has changed and evolved over the years. When we started 12 years ago it was much smaller. We didn’t have as much of an application process, we just invited everyone we knew in burlesque and that was about 60 people mostly from NYC, LA or New Orleans. Now we are sifting through over 300 applications from all over the world.  Burlesque has grown exponentially and one of the coolest things about seeing all these performers is you get a feel for the burlesque scene where they come from. Every city has its own vibe: Chicago is really theatrical, Texas is big and showy, LA has an ultra-glam spirit, New Orleans has the blues and New York has everything.

Tell us a little about the all-new Burlesque Bazaar.

Jen Gapay:  The Burlesque Bazaar is a new event we just added to the festival last year.  It’s taking place on Sunday, September 28th at Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Brooklyn and will feature over a dozen vendors showcasing costumes, vintage clothing, corsets, feather accessories, pasties, Burly-Q’s Nell’s pop up burlesque museum and even Fredini’s 3-D Scan-A-Rama that can scan your image right on site. We will also have a Q&A with burlesque legend Val Valentine and feature a live pinup shoot on stage with Don Spiro and stars of the festival. Plus, this event is free.

Brown Paper Tickets is seeing burlesque festivals pop up all over the country. Now every state seems to have its own festival. What is the number one piece of advice you would give to a burlesque producer who’s thinking of starting a festival in his/her town?

Jen Gapay: I think in order to produce a successful burlesque festival, it really helps to have  a thriving burlesque scene already built into the community, so make sure you have that before doing it.

Thanks to Jen and Angie for taking the time to chat. If you’re in the New York area next weekend, be sure to check out this world-class showcase of the best that burlesque has to offer.

Comedy Outliers: Themed Shows Aren’t Hacky

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CO31 finalAnother guest post by Brandon Collins and Mike Brown of Comedy Outliers. They offer advice to comedians and performers on how to survive and thrive in today’s competitive artistic climate.

Stand-up shows are pretty straight forward. You have a host, you have a few comics go up and perform and then usually there is a headliner who does extended time to close the show on a high note. This can seem like a fairly simple formula, one relatively easy to execute. While some producers put more effort into perfecting this formula than others, there are always ways to shake things up a little bit and add some unpredictability to your show.

In the art world, fall is in full swing and for us at “Comedy Outliers” that means we get to start producing our themed shows. During the first half of the year, our show follows a specific outline that we have perfected over the two and half years we’ve been producing. During the second half of the year, we have producer Mike Brown and customer service manager Tatiana Albandos’ birthdays so we get to bring more of a party vibe to shows. Not to mention additional shows with a Halloween and winter holiday theme. These shows allow us to have a loose format, which includes performing sketches, musical numbers and even bringing in guest musicians to add a different kind of vibe. The addition of live musicians is always a hit with our audience as it is much more engaging than simply plugging in your iPod for show music.

It’s very easy to get comfortable and complacent when producing a show. But you should never be afraid of switching things up and keeping your audience excited for the next event. In the end, you should do what you feel makes your show work. However, as you continue to grow your production, you should begin allowing yourself more freedom to have more fun and in some cases get incredibly weird.

Comedy Outliers’ next show is at 22 Warren Street on Saturday, September 20th at 7pm. The show has a $10 cover with no drink minimum. Pay only $5 for advanced tickets if you use the discount code “Rasta” for $5 tickets.You can also support their efforts by hitting the “Donate” button on their website or by listening to their weekly podcast.