Pay What You Want Kicks Some Ass (Theatreforte):
As you may recall, we recently produced Sheila Callaghan's Dead City here in Columbus, and we priced all the tickets for all the shows as "Pay What You Want."
Dead City was - by a long shot - the most popular show we've every produced. We beat our previous record for a run by almost 200 people. And we actually had fewer performances of this show than most. Wow.
Now, there are many factors at work here. We were in a nicer, high-profile space. We did a lot of ground-level marketing for the past 4 months. We got a good bit of nice press (though, not the most we've ever had, nor the best reviews we've ever had). We hired someone to help market the show. Etc., etc. So, I'm not saying "Pay What You Want" is the golden key. Also, we put on a damned good show.
However, we were told by a whole lot of people that PWYW was the reason they came to the show, and the numbers bear-out the fact that people were ready for the opportunity. We had a lot of people paying far below our normal prices, even down in the $2-5 area. THAT'S A GOOD THING, because, I'm guessing most of those folks wouldn't have been there if it was a $10 or $20 ticket. And, their seats would definitely have been empty if they weren't there to fill them. Balancing it out from the other end of the spectrum, we had a ton of people paying the normal $20 or even more.
A few tidbits:
# $10 was the most popular price. About 30% of our patrons chose it.
# $20 was next in popularity, chosen by about 25% of our patrons.
# $5 was next, chosen by about 15%.
# About 15% of the rest paid between $6 and $9.
# About 5% paid more than $20.
# About 5% paid less than $5.
# The other 5% fell between $10 and $20.
# One person paid $8.12 - each of the 4 times he saw the show.
# Our average ticket price for this show fell by only $1 from previous shows.