Live Nation and Ticketmaster Merge: What does it mean for Broadway?

http://www.theproducersperspective.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/my_weblog/6a00e54ef2e21b883301116858848c970c.jpgLive Nation has been on a tear over the past few years, shaking things up first with music deals (like Madonna’s), second with announcing that they were going to sever ties with Ticketmaster and create their own ticketing service, and third, this week they reversed that previous announcement and said they were merging with that ticketing warhorse, creating arguably the most powerful company in live entertainment marketing and production.

While I’m always fearful whenever competition falls away, I’m also a big believer in bringing systems “in-house” to allow other ancillary forms of revenue to offset costs of production (do you know how many more Broadway productions would recoup if they were able to reap some of the benefits of ticketing fees, concession fees, etc. . . . and more shows recouping, would mean more people investing, which would mean more productions that could take more artistic risk).

Live Nation is primarily a Producer, and I’ve gotta believe that they will tackle the revamping of the ticketing industry from that perspective, rather than the former TM perspective which was to make as much money for the ticketing transaction as possible.

So, I’m bullish that the merger could be good.

What does this mean for the Nederlander Broadway houses that currently use Ticketmaster?

Do I expect service fees to drop?  Not likely.  But I do expect the customer service experience (and the website) to improve (LN has already committed to a more transparent ticketing fee structure with no “nibbling” fees for print-at-home tickets, etc. that get tacked on at the end of transactions.

There is one thing that does make me nervous.  One of the other things that Live Nation did over the past few years to shake things up . . . was sell off their Broadway biz.

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Cry-Baby opened last night. So, did HE like it?

Only one way to find out:  www.DidHeLikeIt.com

Talkin’ Broadway stops them from Talkin’.

The infamous and original broadway web chatter site, talkinbroadway.com, issued a statement recently, letting all their chatterazi know that they no longer will publish “reviews/reports of dress rehearsals/gypsy run-throughs.”

They’ve got good intentions here.  But they’re making a mistake.  As I learned from social media guru, Warren Ackeman at Affinitive, the more you tighten the reins on your online audience, the more likely those reins are going to break.  Does TB really think their passionate peeps won’t find another place to chat?  They’re gonna scurry to find one fast.  Like roaches when you turn on the light.

I’m sure there are producers all over town celebrating Talking Bway’s new policy.  But that just means they’re not confident in what’s gonna be on that stage.

You can’t produce with fear about what people are going to say, no matter who they are or what sites they visit or when they come.

And, remember, if your show is fantastic, you’ll WANT those people talking about your show as early as you can get them.

So Talkin’ Broadway, thanks for trying to protect us from the bullies.  But don’t worry, we can take care of ourselves.

And if we can’t, we’re definitely in the wrong business.

BTW, if any Talking Broadway regulars are reading this and want to write reviews/reports of dress rehearsals/gypsy run-throughs, might I suggest BroadwaySpace.com.  😉

Another pricing post. Don’t “cry” – this one is only $54!

I couldn’t help but continue with my pricing motif when I saw the Cry Baby marquis this weekend advertising “All Tickets for Previews Only $54!”  (The show is set in 1954. Get it?  1954.  $54.)

The hopeful Producers of Hairspray II are betting that this reduced price (about the same as what the price would have been at the TKTS booth) will pull in more of an audience during the ever important early weeks, when a show’s expenses are high and grosses are low.

But will it work?

By slashing their prices across the board, they have eliminated the consumer’s option for choice, which breaks my Kardinal Kenism:

There is always someone who wants to fly first class.

First class may seem out of reach for most of us, and a full price ticket might seem too expensive for an unproven show in previews for most of us as well, but data shows there is always someone who will buy it, no matter what the price is.  They just want “the best.”  Dance of the Vampire, Moose Murders, Carrie . . . all of the biggest flops in history had full price ticket buyers during previews.  Stupid ones, but still.  My opinion?  Just take the money.

The other problem with across the board pricing strategy is that your
TKTS price is proportionally adjusted.  So, the Producers of Cry Baby aren’t only losing income from the potential $115 ticket buyer who is now
paying $54, but they’re also losing money from the people who would have
paid $57.50 at the booth (50% of $115) who are now going to pay $27 (and remember – at the TKTS booth, you don’t see the actual prices display . . . only 25%, 35% or 50% off, so the customer thinks they are all the same).

The Producers of Baby are smart people.  They understand the above theory.  But obviously they believe two things:

  • They believe they are going to sell approximately 2x the number of tickets from this promotion than they would have sold using traditional pricing.  Even if they sell the same, they will have double the butts in the seats.  And more bodies = more word of mouth.
  • The public discount will allow them to spend less on advertising so they can avoid certain email blasts, direct mail, etc. which reduces their overall expenses.

Time and Variety will tell how this theory works, but if I were playing my favorite game, I would have made a different call.

I would have priced it more traditionally, based on my first class rule above, and because I don’t believe that the price is that remarkable of a call to action.

Then I would price the entire house for just the first preview at $19.54.

That’s a price worth talking about.  And it would have gotten the most people in to the see the show early, so they would hopefully stop talking about price.

And start talking about the show.

BroadwaySpace.com In The NY Times!

BroadwaySpace.com was the top and tail in a story about Broadway websites in today’s New York Times.

Read the full article here!

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