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Jennifer Sowinski
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Grow arts and culture revenue

Pricing for Virtual Performances


With the global pandemic forcing all of us into our homes, arts organizations around the world have been finding innovative ways to continue to reach audiences and share their work. With limited options, many performing arts organizations have begun selling “tickets” to digitally streamed performances and concerts. Although streaming options have been around for many years, this idea of translating live performances into online events is relatively new, and has quite suddenly been thrust to the forefront of the performing arts industry.

Since streaming live performances is a new venture for most traditional arts organizations, many are also finding that they don’t have a pricing strategy in place that applies to these new offerings. So, let’s take a look at some pricing concepts that we use for a typical live performance, and how they translate into digital tickets.

OFFER MULTIPLE PRICE POINTS

First, don’t forget about the basic pricing concepts you use whenever you set prices! It’s a great idea to offer multiple price points, even when price doesn’t change the product that the patron receives. Encouraging patrons to choose a higher price is all about communicating value (which I’ll get to in a moment).

CONSIDER THE RANGE AND RELATIONSHIP OF YOUR PRICES

When you’re setting your price points, don’t forget to consider the range and relationship of your prices, just like you would for a typical performance. For example, a price breakdown that you might be tempted to use is: $15, $25, $50, $75, $100. But, imagine how this price breakdown works for your customer who is looking for a mid-priced ticket. $25 is a fairly accessible price point, but will that same person consider doubling their price to jump up to $50? Probably not. This becomes more obvious when you examine the percentage difference in your prices, rather than just the dollar amounts:

 Prices:

$15

$25

$50

$75

$100

$ Difference:

 

$10

$25

$25

$25

% Difference:

 

67%

100%

50%

33%

For that same range of $15–100, consider instead the prices below. This keeps the percentage jump between prices more even, and is more likely to encourage a patron to consider the next price point.

 Prices:

$15

$25

$35

$50

$70

$100

$ Difference:

 

$10

$10

$15

$20

$30

% Difference:

 

67%

40%

43%

40%

43%

Now, you might be thinking—why would anyone choose anything other than the lowest price, if they’re getting the same product either way? This all comes down to how you communicate the value of the experience.

COMMUNICATE VALUE

Make sure that your patrons understand the value of the product before they are asked to choose a price. Here are some ways that you can communicate value:

  • Ask your patron to consider how many people will be watching the stream. Under normal circumstances, an individual would need to pay for each member of their family to attend a live event. Someone purchasing a link that multiple people will watch may feel compelled to pay more, especially when you remind them that you are providing entertainment that will be enjoyed by the entire family.
  • Remind patrons of the price of a typical ticket to see the show live. There’s no reason to hold back this information—use it to attach a concrete value to the digital content they are purchasing.
  • Attribute the price paid directly to the product being purchased. Avoid using language that indicates the money spent on a streamed event should be considered a donation. There is intrinsic value in the link they are purchasing, and you want to avoid suggesting that the link is “free” with a donation. This kind of language separates the dollar amount from the purchase, and devalues the product. Ultimately, this makes patrons inclined to pay less. Instead, you could add a light donation ask to the purchase path, to be added on to the ticket cost.
BE FLEXIBLE

Perhaps most importantly, just as with pricing strategy for traditional events, don’t be afraid to learn and adjust as you go! Continue to evaluate your prices as your streamed events are on sale. If something isn’t working the way you’d like, it’s ok to make changes! We’re all learning to be more flexible right now, and that should apply to your pricing strategy too.

If you have any other questions about pricing for virtual events, or pricing for that joyous day when your live performances start again, please email us at smarter@jcainc.com. We are here to help.


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