It’s been too long since you’ve heard from us. Many of you—artists, event organizers, and ticket buyers—have emailed us seeking refunds, payments, and answers, and we haven’t replied. We’re sorry. You deserve better, and we are committed to doing better. We are committed to being more open and timely in communicating what we know. Here’s
This month, Brown Paper Tickets picked Partners for Rural Health in the Dominican Republic for our donation gift.
Partners for Rural Health is an incredible organization, established in 1995 by the University of Southern Maine, College of Nursing and Health Professions.
Twice a year, they send out healthcare professionals and other volunteers to 15 mountain villages to provide healthcare to over 2,000 people in homes, schoolrooms, and churches. Not only do they administer healthcare, they also offer basic education in nutrition, disease prevention, dental health, and hygiene, including a certificate-training program for community health promoters.
As someone from the Dominican Republic, I really appreciate what this organization does for my country’s people. The work they do is tough – it brings to mind my own volunteer experience for a different organization. We labored tirelessly for three days to bring basic medical care to the people in Bayaguana, DR. I can’t believe Partners for Rural Health does a similar thing twice a year—it deserves immense gratitude and respect.
With our help, they can continue to assist those in need in the Dominican Republic.
While other similar programs rarely return to the same location, Partners for Rural Health has a sustained program in place that provides consistent access and continuity of care to the people in the villages. They are making a considerable difference in the long-term health and quality of life for the thousands that depend on their return.
Their return depends on us.
Get Involved with Partners for Rural Health
Volunteer. Doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, dentists, interpreters, Peace Corps, pharmacists, physical therapists, clinic greeters, and intake staff comprise their volunteer group. That said, neither a medical background nor Spanish-speaking one is necessary. There are many other ways that volunteers can contribute.
Join Partners for Rural Health on one of their trips.
Donate. Your donations are tax deductible and used to purchase medical supplies, equipment, administrative and transportation costs. Partners for Rural Health doesn’t have paid personnel; everyone, including the Board of Directors donates time. All of their donations come from individuals, companies and fundraising events.
Photo from Partners for Rural HealthGood Causes >
When it comes to promotion, there are a lot of options, and it can be difficult to know where to start. The key to effectively marketing your event is establishing a relationship with your potential ticket buyers. Before you take a look at how you want to promote your event, you will need to understand who you are promoting to – this is called your target audience.
Your target audience is the demographic group of people most likely to be interested in your event. If you have a sense of the type of people most likely to attend your event, you can market your event far more effectively.
Let’s start with an example:
Let’s say you have a stack of 100 flyers advertising the jazz show you’re putting on this Friday, and you’re trying to figure out the best way to pass them out. Sure, you could just walk down the street and hand the flyers to the first 100 people you see, but there’s no reason to assume that these folks have any interest in jazz, and many of your flyers would probably end up in the trash.
Now let’s say instead of choosing people at random, you hand out your flyers outside a popular instrument repair shop, or leave a stack in the local record store. You’ll find that far more of your flyers find their way into the hands of music lovers.
By targeting a specific demographic, (music fans in this example) where they’re likely to spend time (music stores) you’re wasting less flyers, getting more positive response, and interacting with people who are more likely to buy tickets to your event–or even become long-term fans.
This same concept applies to every type of promotion–social media, traditional media, posters– whatever methods you use to market your event. The effectiveness of your promotion is determined by knowing who your target audience is, and how to reach them.
What is a customer profile?
The idea of a “target audience” may seem like an abstract concept, but it’s not– your potential ticket buyers are real people with interests, habits, likes, dislikes, and–most importantly– shared traits that can help you effectively reach them with your promotion. To understand who these people are, start by create a customer profile- a “portrait” of your ideal ticket buyer. A common starting point for creating this profile is by looking at your audience demographics, including:
- Family status
- Income level
- Education level
- Shopping habits
From this demographic information, you can then ask yourself more specific questions:
- How can I adjust my message to appeal to this demographic?
- What type of social media promotion is most likely to draw the attention of my target audience?
- How might my target audience respond to advertising in traditional media sources, such as newspapers, event calendars or radio stations?
- Where does my target audience spend time, and can I use this information to better reach them with my advertising?
For example: If you’re putting on an opera, you want to reach opera fans. What age range do you tend to see at the opera in your area? Are there a lot of people from the age of 18-24, or more 35-55 ? (Hint: you can sometimes find event demographic data online depending on what type of event you’re putting on, to test this out, try Googling “Opera Attendee Demographics”)
Let’s say you find that the average age of your attendee is 48 years old, that’s already useful information. Many studies break down trends in social media usage among different age groups, and you can use the data from these studies to assess what social media platform will best reach a potential customer based on criteria such as their age. The Pew Research Center offers a good starting point for social media usage data.
Studies have shown that a 48 year old is statistically far more likely to be on Facebook than Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Snapchat. So instead of spreading your promotion efforts across every social media platform, focus on the one that’s most likely to work.
Customer profiles will vary depending on the specifics of your event. A punk show will draw a different crowd than an opera, and the way you promote these events will be different, but understanding the concept behind targeted advertising will help you adapt your marketing to best reach your potential attendees, and will ensure that you aren’t wasting your money promoting in ways that don’t reach the right people. While data and research can help you more effectively promote, you can also identify your target audience through observation:
- Think about your past attendees. If you have done events in the past that are similar to your current event, this puts you at an advantage. If you are able to, keep your past attendees up to date on your upcoming events, and consider how they heard about your events in the first place.
- Ask yourself: am I part of my own target audience? If you fit the profile of the type of person you’re trying to reach, think carefully about where you would best be reached by marketing, and plan your promotional strategies accordingly.
- Take a look at similar events in your area. Do some research into the methods other event producers in your area use to promote their events. Social media makes it much easier to see how events are marketed. Do you see a lot of paid Facebook ads for events in your area? Do you see event organizers asking people to join their email list? Have you noticed print advertising or calendar listings for events similar to yours?
- Compile a list of relevant places to advertise your event. Think about this broadly: if you get a lot of college students at your events, think about how your average college student gets their information (social media, college bulletin boards, flyers in on-campus laundromats, libraries etc.) How about an older demographic? Might they rely more on traditional media? Calendar listings? Posters?)
- Lastly, an excellent way to make contact with your target audience is to think about any contacts you might have within the community you are trying to reach. If you have even just one friend, colleague or employee who is willing to help you with your event and has a solid network within your target audience, they can be a great asset in promoting your event. They could send out invitations to all their friends on Facebook, post your event on social media and have it seen (and ideally shared!) by their friends who share similar interests.
The last step in effectively marketing to your target audience is remembering to think ahead about future events. At your next event, pay careful attention to who attends. Consider putting a questionnaire on your ticketing page that asks attendees how they heard about your event, and using this information to refine your advertising in the future.
If you have more questions about defining your target audience, contact our promotions team.Event Tips >
It is valuable to ourselves and our communities to learn to be giving, not just with our money, but also with our time. I am a firm believer that you reap what you sow and am fortunate to work for a company that encourages its employees to give back. This year I’ve joined the Brown Paper Tickets Not-Just-For-Profit Team, where I facilitate company donations and group volunteering. Additionally, I use our company sponsored Paid Time-On hours to volunteer in my community. I am excited to share with you one of the newest Thanksgiving traditions that has gained popularity over the past few holiday seasons.
Giving Tuesday is a movement that was started by a team at the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact (https://www.92y.org/innovation), a cultural center in New York City in 2012. It is celebrated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and is a socially responsible addition to the popular shopping days like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. This movement celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy to events throughout the year.
According to GivingTuesday.Org, Giving Tuesday has been bringing people together around the values of service and giving back—#GivingTuesday connects diverse groups of individuals, communities, and organizations around the world for one common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving.
Here are my 3 steps to getting started this Giving Tuesday and holiday season:
1. Heart Check
Why are you giving/volunteering? What are your motivations to do so? I believe there are motives behind everything we do. I always like to keep my self-grounded and make the most impact there is a need. When looking to do some volunteer work or donate I ask myself, ‘am I doing this because I want something in return?’ or, ‘am I sincerely looking out for the well being of others?’. Wherever you feel called to volunteer or donate this holiday season, check in with yourself, and share what you can. If you find a cause that speaks to your heart, you will likely stay involved and make a direct impact.
Look for opportunities to serve your community or places to give. Whether you love helping people, animals or the environment, find a good cause that speaks to you and needs help. Feel free to get creative as well! I remember one Thanksgiving my family made sandwiches, bought a large tub of hot coffee and some donuts, then drove around and shared them with some of the homeless people in our neighborhood. On another occasion, some of my friends and I set some time aside on a Christmas morning and distributed “lunch bags” to the needy in the Far Rockaway community in Queens, NY.
*Disclaimer: A food permit is needed to handle food. Please look up any restrictions in your local area.
3. Have Fun
Whatever you decide to do make sure that you enjoy every second of it. Know that whether you are donating money or volunteering you are making a difference. I think it is important to not get wrapped up in our own lives and fail to see the need around us. We might not be able to change the world but we can make a difference in our communities.
Infusing the practice of giving and being open to receiving can bring joy and affect every aspect of our lives. I have learned from both sides of this practice. Several years ago, my family benefited from the giving. Here is my account:
Ever since I moved to the United States, I have lived with my paternal grandmother. When I was 15 years old, she and my aunt got together and bought their first home. Oh, the excitement! However, years passed and they never paid a water bill. I am not sure why but they never got a water bill, it just never arrived and no one ever realized.
One day, the homes that did not pay their water bill were published in a Mayor NYC Newspaper and there was our address. The embarrassment!
Of course, my grandmother freaked out and made payment arrangements with the company right away. After several months of making payments towards the amount due, we stopped getting the monthly payment slips. Grandma asked me to call the water company on her behalf and inquire about it. I remember this like it was yesterday, it was during my lunch break at my previous job, my jaw dropped when I heard the agent say,
“I am sorry ma’am but you currently do not owe any money, which is why you haven’t received a bill from us.”
“No! That cannot be right. We owe close to $10,000 and I know for a fact that payment for the complete amount has not been made,” I responded.
The agent placed me on hold to investigate, then came back on the line and told me that not only was the balance paid, but we had extra funds to cover the bill for a few more months. To this date and we are still not sure how this bill was paid, but one thing is for certain we reaped what we have sown for so many years. Over the years many similar things have happened to us, this is the story with the most financial impact thus far.
It is worth to mention that since this my family has become a giving family, not only with finances but also with time. Giving has been something that we have done in our house on a weekly basis; because of this example I’ve learned to be a giving person, and hope to pass on these traits to my daughter. My purpose is that through these lines my passion to help those who cannot help themselves be transmitted to those around me, and yes that includes you too!
Happy Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday, and Holiday Season!Good Causes >
In honor of GiveBIG Tuesday, here’s an outstanding example of Paid Time-On. If you’re unaware, each one of our employees gets 40 hours a year of paid time to volunteer at causes they choose. It is one of our most-loved perks and a finalist for GeekWire‘s Perk of the Year in 2014.
“Paid Time-On is an amazing benefit,” says Peace, Doer Team Manager “I sit on the board for an understaffed nonprofit and they often need us to pitch in work hours. I never thought an employer would reward me for my volunteer service.”
Peace is on the board for Freedom Project Seattle, a nonprofit that undermines the industrial prison complex by reducing recidivism. Recidivism is the rate at which a previously incarcerated person returns to prisons. Researchers at the University of Washington and Seattle University have not only proven Freedom Project Seattle programs reduce recidivism, they also save Washington State five million dollars a year in taxpayer money.
Peace is using Paid Time-On to run an online fundraising event for Freedom Project Seattle in partnership with the Seattle Foundations’ #GiveBig day. One of their major donors has offered a $30,000 matching grant that Peace will try to galvanize the internet to match. Peace has created her own personal matching grant and our blog readers can join the fun. To participate, just write BPT in the comments of the donation form.
Peace offers, “If I can get 100 of my friends, family and peers to donate to Freedom Project Seattle, I will match their donations up to a thousand dollars. Donate a dollar if that’s what you can afford or $15 to celebrate our 15th anniversary. My goal: I want a hundred new people to begin to know our work.”Good Causes >
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 >
You planned for months and the big day is finally here. You fully anticipate a packed house. The nerves are setting in and you envision a line of yelling, frustrated patrons all the way around the block. Don’t worry; you got this.
Make sure your box office is equipped with these 11 essential items and enjoy a stress-free, organized opening night.
1. Will call. To get all of your attendees on a single list, enter all your comps and promotional tickets as box office transactions. Bring multiple copies of your will call as backup. Alphabetize the list and break it up into manageable segments (A-H in one line, I-P in another, Q-Z in the third).
2. Signage for will call + ticket sales. Hang signs high above the table so shorties in the back don’t have to stand on their toes just to see their places in line.
3. Guest list/seating chart. Print a copy of your guest list and seating chart in case you need them.
4. Barcodes for scanner app. If you will be using the (newly updated) Brown Paper Tickets’ Scanner App, activate the barcodes ahead of time in box office tools. Test out the app ahead of time so you’re ready to scan and comfortable with it.
5. Office supplies. You’ll need pens and paper to take notes, rubber bands and envelopes to sort your money, masking tape for signs and posters. Keep markers on hand so you can write on the tickets. Bring more than what you think you’ll need so you don’t run out.
6. Cash box. Carry enough cash to make change for people who pay with larger bills. Two hundred dollars in increments of mostly $1s and $5s is typically more than enough, but always round up. Put a sign up that asks for small bills—most will be happy to oblige.
7. 2-Way radios. Bring walkie-talkies so that you can easily communicate with staff and security. Test the radios so you’re positive they work.
8. Emergency protocol + first aid kit. Have the venue’s floor plan on hand along with your emergency protocol, evacuation plan and first aid kit.
9. Handstamps or wristbands (optional). Don’t forget handstamps or wristbands if you’re using them to identify who has paid.
10. Breath mints. Stinky bathrooms and floors in a dive bar are expected, welcome even. Stinky breath is not. Bring mints and gum for those up-close encounters. Always have enough to share when someone else’s breath is kicking.
11. Hand sanitizer. When scanning tickets, making change and greeting guests, you’ll touch hundreds of hands. We know you’re tough, but keep those nasty germs at bay, so that you don’t catch a cold before your next event.
What do you bring to ensure a successful box office? Share your ideas below.
Here’s our list in a printable format, so you can take it with you.Event Tips >
Pig oinks. Donkey brays. Pony whinnies. As an animal-friendly office, we’re pretty used to dogs (and sometimes cats) running a bit amuck, but a few weeks ago we spent our workday with animals of a different sort (or snort).
Our crew used a few hours from our paid time-on benefit at Pasado’s Safe Haven, an animal sanctuary sprawling over 85-acres in Sultan, Washington. Named after a beloved donkey who was sadly tortured and killed by a group of teenage boys, Pasado’s mission is to end animal cruelty. The organization provides rehabilitation, housing and kindness to neglected, abused and discarded animals.
Pasado’s also advocates for better animal protection laws and encourages the public to make choices that will abate cruelty:
- Reduce or eliminate meat and dairy consumption. As more people forgo meat, more lives are saved. According to the Pasado’s brochure, “from 2007-2014 nearly 400 million fewer animals were killed for food.”
- Adopt, don’t shop for all animals, including egg-laying chickens. See some of the animals up for adoption.
- Spay and neuter pets.
- Look for the leaping rabbit symbol on cosmetics and household products to ensure it was not tested on animals.
We made new friends while touring the grounds. Priscilla, the potbelly pig greeted us by pushing her snout into our hands. (She has since found her forever home.) We snuggled kittens in Kitty City and played with pups in Dog Town. We gave gregarious goats Gary and Chloe behind-the-ear scratches and also met a pair of six-month-old sows with a penchant for untying shoelaces. A staff member explained that at six months, these wonderful creatures would typically be headed to slaughter. Instead, they were rooting around an expansive enclosure in bright afternoon sunlight, happy as can be.
After the tour, it was time to dig in and work. Pasado’s, a nonprofit with a small staff needs volunteers to help maintain the grounds. We pulled weeds and clipped blackberry branches, cleaned out the healing barn and spiffed up the welcome center. Messy work, but the hours flew by and we even got to revisit Kitty City for a second round of cat cuddles.
Our Compassion Day came to a close too quickly and we were sad to leave. The animals we met remain fresh in our minds and some of us have since changed habits to diminish animal cruelty. We’re sure we’ll return, as there’s always more work to be done.
Thank you Pasado’s for introducing us to your very special residents.
Good Causes >
Brown Paper Tickets won the 2015 GeekWire Awards’ Bootstrapper of the Year. Quite an honor for a company celebrating its 15th anniversary using corporate social responsibility vs. venture capital as a propelling business backbone.
Thank you to all who voted for us. GeekWire reported that 25,000 votes were cast among numerous categories and finalists and we’re honored to be recognized from the tech community, our customers and the public for succeeding without a dime of VC money. We value every employee, event organizer and event attendee in our local and global community.
William Scott Jordan, founder, president and CTO, says, “Bootstrapping the company has made us more nimble, efficient and sustainable and we are able to pay that forward. We have better planning and more scalability at a lower cost than the rest of the industry.” Here’s more bootstrapping insight from Brown Paper Tickets’ founder.
Steve Butcher, CEO of Brown Paper Tickets, believes in giving more and taking less and invented the not-just-for-profit business model that’s reflected in actions such as 40 hours per year per employee of paid time to volunteer in communities. This company benefit earned us a finalist nomination for GeekWire Awards’ Perk of the Year in 2014.
Video by GeekWireNews >
Stand-up comedy can be an exhilarating experience or a terrifying one. Being in front of a live audience, pouring out your soul and getting people to laugh is a trying task. Sometimes it is the best thing in the world. Other times, it makes you wish you could just ball up and cry.
There are many lessons to be learned both as producers of stand-up comedy and performers. Comics performing on this Saturday’s show share their tales of how they earned battle scars in the comedy world:
1. Follow Your Instincts
By: Producers/Hosts Brandon Collins & Mike Brown
Photo of Comedy Outliers by Mindy Tucker
We hosted our first private event last year. We were very excited and had been in contact with the private organization’s president who had specific requests regarding the type of talent we should book. We booked very specific comics who we thought would be successful in front of the anticipated audience. Unfortunately for us and the president, the booked comedians and the actual audience turned out to be horribly mismatched. The final result? A brutally awkward 90-minute showcase.
Afterward, we had a frank discussion with the president of the organization who admitted that they had provided us with misinformation regarding the type of talent we should have booked. We decided that for future events, we would book every private event just as we do our monthly showcases: diverse and fearless. We recently held another event for this organization where we followed this mentality, which resulted in a successful comedy showcase that was well received by their audience. The ultimate lesson of this story? Always follow your instincts.
2. Timing is Everything
By: Comedian Kate Wolff
I had a show at a gay bar, the night after Whitney Houston died. I had been excited to do this show for weeks, because it was always packed with a really fun, excited audience. That night just before the host brought me up, they played a 10-minute video dedicated to Whitney. Every gay man in the audience was weeping when they brought me to stage. Needless to say it wasn’t the best set of my career, but I did get to hold an emotional man’s hand for an hour after the show.
3. You Will Be Booed and It Won’t Be Pretty
By: Comedian Langston Kerman
Photo by Phil Provencio
I was once booed in an empty basement bar by a grown man wearing a white suit and a crown. In his defense, it was his birthday. And he was performing on the show later. Obviously, a rapper dressed like he’s being baptized at a Burger King expects a little more from his opening acts.
4. Don’t Insult the Crowd
By: Comedian Dan DelColle
Photo by Katherine Clark
December 16, 2012. It was supposed to be my first paid spot and I was excited. I’d done well in front of this crowd before. The show started two hours late so the crowd was getting restless. I’ll win them over, I thought. I opened my set with “I probably can or have bought drugs from everyone in this room.” That was it. No one was amused. The room instantly hated me. The crowd wasn’t entirely silent because I heard someone say: “You’re not funny.” My 15-minute set was cut to about 13 minutes.
I guess the host didn’t have a light to get me off the stage because he walked on the stage and said “You’re done.” He encouraged the crowd to give me a simultaneous one clap at the same time. I stayed for the rest of the show and sat in the front row. Every other comic on the show did great and opened with a line of how horrible I did. Lessons: don’t insult the crowd and if you bomb, get the hell out of the room as fast as you can.
A note for New Yorkers: Go out and check out these comics at Comedy Outliers at Lilly O’Briens (18 Murray Street) on Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 7PM. The show has a $10 cover with no drink minimum. Pay only $8 if you purchase tickets in advance. You can also support their efforts by donating on their website or listening to their weekly podcast.Comedy >