4 Steps to Finding the Right Ticket Price

Ticket PricesFinding the right ticket price is tough, especially if you’re just starting out. Too high feels like a rip-off; too low feels like the event is undervalued. So what is the magic number?

With a little research and number crunching, you can find the “sweet spot” where audiences feel like they are getting a value and you walk away with a little cash in your pocket. Take these four steps to determine what to charge:

1. Figure Out Your Budget

Factor in costs: what you would ideally like to pay your acts, room fees (room rental, sound, lights, etc.) and promotional costs. Don’t forget to budget in payment for yourself. Depending on the draw, keep 20-25% of your profit.

Organizing a show is hard work and takes weeks of preparation. Often the work is done in your free time, outside of your day job. If you aren’t paid for your efforts, you will burn out quick. That said, if you have a poor turnout, cuts should come out of your take first. The artists did their jobs; your job was to bring people in the door. If you fail to do that, your pay should reflect it.

Once you have your total costs, calculate expected draw. If you have already put on some shows, this is easy. Look at past tickets sales and figure out the average attendance. Low-ball that number. In other words, base your costs on how much you would bring in with an “okay” turnout (half the capacity of the venue or even less). That way, on an off-night, you are prepared and if it is a great night, you are stoked.

2. Trim Costs

Before you set anything in stone, negotiate to cut your overhead costs. Is the venue’s sound person charging too much? See if you can hire one for less. How much is the venue charging for promotional costs and what does that include? Consider handling your promotion—many venues won’t do much more than include you in their listings. That said, there are venues that will distribute posters and actively promote your event, so do not assume that they are ripping you off.

Talk to the performers. Find out the least amount of money they need to do the show. Then offer a guarantee or a percentage of the door. Be honest. Don’t exaggerate your expected draw or promise more than you can deliver. Always keep any guarantees on the low end until you know you are going to have a successful night. Sometimes I will say, “I can offer you x amount but if we have a good night, I will get you more.” I have found that if you are honest and upfront, most performers will be willing to work with you. There will be some performers who won’t and that is OK–cut them for someone who will.

3. Do Research

Pick up your local alt-weekly and find out what similar shows charge in your area.

Look at the popularity of your acts. Have they received a fair amount of press? Do they have a large Facebook and/or Twitter following? Are they good at promoting? Also, check out their website and see what their shows typically cost.

What if you have a night full of acts with no regular draw? Still, no reason to undervalue your event. You just need to figure out a way to get people through the door. This is your job as an event organizer and producer. When you undervalue your event, it’s hard for audiences to see value in it. Make your events special and people will show up.

4. Set Your Door Price

Once you have all the numbers in place and know exactly how much the show is going to cost, set your cover. Of course, if you are hosting a bigger gathering like a festival or theater event, you can also include multiple price points such as VIP tickets, weekend passes or group discounts.

In the 80’s and 90’s punk rock world, fans considered any show over $5 a rip-off. Unfortunately, almost 30 years later, many producers (and audiences) still stick to that credo. Nobody makes money off a $5 cover in 2016 and it is not worth anyone’s time to perform for that amount. I think $10 should be the minimum ticket price for any event featuring live performance. Anything below that and you will barely cover your costs and walk away with nothing in your pocket.

No matter what you charge, if you are not putting effort into curating your acts and developing a solid promotional plan, folks aren’t going to show. It is rare that the cost of a ticket deters audiences from seeing a show they really want to see. They might complain but if they want to see it, they’ll pay for it, as long as it is within reason.

Your job is to make your event worth the price of admission, to put that extra effort into your productions, so audiences keep coming back.

How did you determine your ticket price sweet spot? Ring in with your advice in the comments.

Event Tips >

Brown Paper Tickets Wins Best Customer Service Award for Performing Arts

Best Customer Service AwardBrown Paper Tickets was awarded an “Oscar” for Best Customer Service for the Performing Arts. It was awarded to us at Live Blessay 2013, an Oscar-style show for local dance, produced by Bay Area Dance Watch, a website that shares essay portraits of local San Francisco dancers and performances, and SAFEhouse (Save Art From Extinction), a nonprofit incubator for new performing artists.

Brown Paper Tickets has set the gold standard and set it first, for all ticket sales companies to follow their lead,” said Jim Tobin, founder of Bay Area Dance Watch. “Dance companies and local theaters need to pay attention to which ticketing service is preferred by their patrons, because ticket buyers are their biggest supporters.”

We are humbled and honored.

The Best Customer Service award was based on 5 criteria:

1. Easy-to-use website architecture with robust features, such as a personal page for ticket buyers to review all tickets bought; mobile, print-at-home or US mail delivery all for the same price; and more.
2. Round-the-clock, 24/7 hotline for customer support.
3. Transparency in pricing.
4. Donating 5 percent of Brown Paper Tickets’ profits to nonprofits in categories of each ticket buyer’s choice.
5. Lowest ticketing fee in the industry.

Brown Paper Tickets was the first to provide ticketing and event registration tools and 24-hour live customer service completely free of charge to event organizers 14 years ago.

While we’d like to thank the academy, it’s more important to thank you—event planners, venues, independent artists, musicians, community organizers and small businesses. We know you choose for your ticket buyers what experience they (and you) will have. We pay close attention to creating a premium experience for all involved, leaving more cash in your and your ticket buyers’ wallets.

Arts >

Austin’s Wildfire Festival and 3 Months of Reggae

185037-250Music festival season is fast approaching and our site is already starting to fill up with tickets to festivals all around the country.

One of the first big events of the season is, of course, SXSW in Austin, Texas. Originally started in 1987 as a way to showcase independent music, SXSW has turned into one of the biggest interactive media events in the country, complete with corporate-sponsored showcases featuring big name acts, high-tech trade shows and media startup conferences. Attendance has sky-rocketed from 700 attendees in its first year, to over 40,000 attendees today. As a result, being able to see bands has become a bit of a challenge for the average music fan.

That’s why we’re excited to be ticketing a real “independent” festival in Austin that’s focused on a genre of music that we deeply love here at Brown Paper Tickets: reggae! Our music doer Billy Geoghegan has been playing in reggae and ska bands for years and you’ll often hear a reggae beat coming out of the computer speakers of many of our employees’ desks.

So, when we see that we’re ticketing a festival like the 4th Annual Wildfire Reggae and Arts Festival, we naturally want to spread the word and support it in any way we can. It’s going on during SXSW, so if you’re in town for “South By” and want to experience some high quality grooves in a beautiful setting, then Wildfire is for you!

Now in its fourth year, the Wildfire Reggae and Arts Festival will take place at The Music Ranch from Thursday, March 7 to Saturday, March 9 and will spotlight more than 30 bands offering a cross-section of the reggae genre, from ska to rocksteady to roots, dub and beyond. Past headliners have included Collie Buddz, Lynval Golding (of The Specials), HR (of Bad Brains), Common Kings, Contra Coup and Josh Heinrichs. This year offers another stellar lineup: Don Carlos (of Black Uhuru fame), Gyptian, Marlon Asher and the Farmers, The Expanders, Mike Love, Alex Marley, a large selection of DJ’s and more. They expect over 4,000 attendees this year and there will also be camping in a beautiful 80-acre oak tree forest. You can pick up daily passes, three-day passes or the coveted VIP passes right over here.


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Music >

How to use Facebook Ads to target your audience

You’re organizing an event that is special and unique. How do you find ticket buyers that are just as passionate about this project as you are? An affordable and easy option for strategic event promotion is Facebook Ads. With over 500 million active users, Facebook is a hub of potential customers cleanly labeled by age, location, and interests. By targeting your audience online, you could fill the house weeks before your event.

Here are a few things you may find useful when setting up your advertising campaign.

Keywords are always key

The listed interests, likes and hobbies of each Facebook user make it easy for you to find people who will be drawn to your event. By associating your ad with industry-specific keywords, you are actively extending your targeted reach. For example, a cabaret variety show might target keywords such as burlesque, circus, or magic. Even better, Facebook allows you to add as many words or “tags” as you want.
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