What we learned in kindergarten is now the new economy.

The first lesson I learned from Mrs. Beasley, my Kindergarten teacher, was to share.

It wasn’t easy, but I did it.  And when I shared, people shared with me.  And we both were happy.

Fast forward 35 years.

Last week, I bought something on eBay.  Later I took an Uber to a meeting.  And then I rented a vacation apartment on Airbnb.

What do all of these things have in common?  These companies are all part of what is commonly referred to as The Sharing Economy.  You know, where people connect with other people, through an intermediary website or app, circumventing the traditional provider.

Or put it this way. If The Sharing Economy had a tag line it would be:  “I have stuff.  You need stuff.  Who needs a store?”

There are a whole bunch of other companies that serve this new economy, from housing rental site VRBO to car-sharing site Carpingo, and yeah, like it or not, StubHub, where people (and often brokers) resell tickets they have that they no longer need (or that they want to make some money on).  This economy offers the consumer multiple choices where they used to have one.

And it’s one of the greatest examples of the internet at work – connecting people with common interests and leaving them both very satisfied.

While this economy has given consumers a new found confidence and a new found power, a bunch of businesses and entire industries have suffered as a result.  I don’t feel too badly for ’em, because most of the those that suffered (hotels, taxis, etc.) are those who thought they were safe because they had a monopoly, and for years they got away with mediocre service (which reminds of my favorite business lesson – if ever you think you are safe, that’s when you’re not).

All that said, I can’t help but think . . . will The Sharing Economy hit our shores?  And how?

Obviously tickets sold on StubHub are an example of this economy at work (and we have taken a hit as a result – it took us a few years to get our premium pricing in place to combat what StubHub did so well), but could there be other examples of sharing in the theater?  And could we use some to our advantage instead of letting consumers take advantage of us?

What if regional theaters had subscription sharing?  What about investment pooling?  Scenery sharing?  (We’ve seen some examples of that with co-pros after 2008.)  Focus group results-sharing?

Sharing is here to stay, and as usual, we’re about ten years behind other industries.  But we don’t have to be.

Why don’t you share your ideas on how we can better our experience for our consumers in the comments below?  And let’s see if we do Mrs. Beasley proud.


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  • Donald I says:

    I think there is are huge possibilities in theater companies sharing a venue. It’s ridiculous that there is a large building that is only getting use 4 or 5 hours a day. On this blog, there has been much written about the logjam for theaters. What if you were able to take 2 productions and run each for 7 performances a week? A matinee and evening performance every day.

  • Janie says:

    Hi Ken. Love your blog. I am active in community theater in Portland, ME, and we pretty much survive on a “sharing economy”. There are about 7 active theaters in the area and we are all good about sharing, or charging a small fee, for costumes, set pieces, and props. In addition, we share talent: most actors, choreographers, and directors work at a number of different theaters. Most of us also cross-promote our seasons in each others programs for gratis. It’s amazing that this works as we pull from the same relatively small pool of customers, but it does work – we’re all sold out most of the time – and it keeps the bonds tight between the theaters, which is fun. A sharing economy has helped build a very strong theater community in Maine – one I love being part of.

  • Chris says:

    I believe that perhaps in this scenario Broadway could learn from the regional and small professional theatres around the country. Sharing of specialty sets, props, costumes and talent is a way of survival. While sometimes we rent items out to other theatres there are a lot of places that I have worked closely with know that just loaning will pay off for me down the road. This works as well in marketing as it does tangible productions goods…over the last several years we have begun an aggressive advertising tradeout program swapping ad space in our programs for ad space with the other regional ^ state theaters. I think an exploration of a sharing economy can only produce beneficial results.

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