What happens when you raise or lower prices?

There was a debate waging on the boards last week about whether or not ticket prices for the theater should go up, down, sideways, or—to quote one of my favorite movies, which is soon to be a musical–slantways, and longways and backways (anyone?), in order to promote accessibility to more audiences.

One thing I think everyone can agree on . . . we all want ticket prices to go down.

That said, there are two axioms I live by in terms of pricing that I thought I would pass on to you.  While I certainly could fill up blog page after blog page on pricing, when it comes to pricing your show, there are two things you should know:

1.  Lowering your prices doesn’t mean more people will come.

2.  Raising your prices doesn’t mean less people will come.

In the luxury consumer goods market (which is what we are, whether we like it or not), it’s about product first and then price.



  • Dave Wakeman says:

    This is undoubtedly true.
    If the show is good enough, has the proper buzz, and can appeal across multiple demographics, you can charge much higher premiums and people want bat an eye.

  • Dave Wakeman says:

    Oops….meant won’t. Bad grammar! Argghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

  • Tom Gavin says:

    While I agree that lowering prices may not overall increase capacity, I do think a discount will. People have been taught to respond better when they get “a deal” be it 10 percent to ten dollars as long as it’s not full price. On the other hand, based on his name alone, Mel Brooks tried to avoid discounts and group sales and charged the highest prices at that time with ‘Young Frankenstein’ and initially did well. Mr Brooks did discount in the end.

  • Dan Padowski says:

    The quote is via Willy Wonka! We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams. 🙂

  • Dan Padowski says:

    I would suggest reading The 1% Windfall.

  • PJL says:

    Producers may be different, but grammarians would say “Raising your prices doesn’t mean fewer people will come.”

  • Lonnie Cooper says:

    Another thing we often forget in our biz is that theater tickets are not like cans of corn. They have no shelf life. An empty seat is one that is never able to be sold again. I have often wondered why producers (it would seem) would rather have a half full house at full price rather than a full house at half (or 2/3) price. I know that there are lots of discounts (seriously, anyone who buys a full price ticket for any show they wouldn’t give a kidney to see is crazy), but we have to come to a better sense of how to price our tickets.
    I have also often heard GMs and Producers say that they fear that if they set their prices too low that folks will think they are an inferior product. But they are already doing this through discounting more tickets to try and fill seats. Why not acknowledge that seeing a show like Jersey Boys IS worth more to folks than, say, Lombardi up front instead of by discounting? Would you not draw more folks to the theater in the first place and not have too pend the extra time, effort and accounting to do so?

  • Andy Jensen says:

    Producers need to decide if their show is a “luxury consumer good” or a “steal of a deal.”
    I also make sure the consumer knows the value is WAY above the ticket price. This has helped me raise prices faster when I need to.

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