Bendict Cumberbatch as Hamlet

Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet at The Barbican. Photo credit: Johann Persson

Why shouldn’t we price at the maximum your audience will pay? Here’s an extract from Seth Godin’s latest blog, proposing that long term is more important than the short when it comes to pricing:

Thirty years ago, I asked the fabled rock promoter Bill Graham a question that I thought was brilliant, but he owned me in his response. “Bill, given how fast a Bruce Springsteen concert sells out, why don’t you charge $100 a seat and keep all the upside?” (In those days, $100 was considered a ridiculous sum for a concert ticket).

“Well, I could do that, but the thing is, I’m here all year round, and my kids only have a limited budget to spend on concerts. If I charged that much for one concert, they wouldn’t be able to come to the other shows I book…”

It’s a big question that has been answered one way by the commercial theatres of the West End and Broadway, as well as some regional and subsidised theatres, who seem only concerned with extracting the maximum profit from their immediate audience. Others, mainly subsidised and regional theatres are more concerned about building a long term audience.

The Guardian recently ran a feature (Theatre Tickets: When Did They Become So Expensive?) looking at the way some theatres are charging huge amounts for premium seats and ‘added value’ packages. Last year I myself got tangled up with the mad rush to get tickets for Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet at The Barbican. Having found myself 29,000th in the queue, I became fired up. Refusing to be thwarted, I went to an agency and, in the excitement of the chase, ended up paying over £20 a ticket more than the official price.

I was so shocked that I had paid so much that I didn’t buy another ticket for anything for over a month. And that’s the point that Seth is making. Do you grab the money now without any concern for the future of yours or anybody else’s audience or do see yourself as part of a network of providers and long term customers?

Read the full blog here