Start Thinking About Ticket Prices

The11/26/08 edition of the Detroit Free Press published an article by Mark Stryker that examines some current events in the Detroit Symphony finances. Although the entire article is well written, the part that should catch your eye is about tickets sales. We’re going to explore this issue in more detail next week but take some time over the weekend to give Mark’s article a read then head over to Adaptistration’s ticket price category archive and start thinking about how orchestras should approach ticket pricing.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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1 thought on “Start Thinking About Ticket Prices”

  1. Yes, we saw the article by the Detroit Free Press’ fine critic and arts reporter Mark Stryker. The Windsor Symphony is right across the river from Detroit (and the only place in Canada you can go due SOUTH to the USA…). Windsor has been in the same tough economic shape as metro Detroit for at least the last two decades.

    While our organizations are quite different in size (Windsor has a $2.2 million budget vs. the DSO’s 31.5 million), and we cannot draw Michiganders the same way Detroit events draw Canadians.

    Still, for the last two seasons the Windsor Symphony has enjoyed record ticket revenues. The 2007/08 growth was much the result of big price increases. This season — 2008/09 — we did no price increases, but are up just a smidgen in subscription income, and single ticket sales are experiencing a big boost. The odd thing is that our actual average prices paid are up substantially (over 7% overall). The buyers are simply purchasing “better” seats. Go figure…

    Rob Gold
    Director of Marketing
    Windsor Symphony Orchestra

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