Does Our Industry Make It Harder to Buy Tickets on Purpose?

Here’s the thing about live entertainment: It’s inconvenient.

It’s just a fact. A potential customer has to transport her actual human body to a place other than her own sofa at a time that she doesn’t get to choose. That may sound stupid and obvious, but that’s only because it IS obvious. The trouble is, when looking the same obvious thing square in the face every day for long enough, you stop seeing it. Like the park rangers at Mount Rushmore. Giant marble heads? What giant marble heads?

That’s just like us in the live entertainment and ticketing business. We’re up to our earlobes in the fact that getting hundreds or thousands of people into a building at 8:00pm on a Wednesday is hard that we forget that it’s even more of a hassle for the person who is paying to go there.

By contrast, a few weeks ago, I saw a guy rollerblading down Lake Avenue in Pasadena, right in front of the Goldstar office. But he wasn’t just rollerblading. This guy was absolutely shredding the sidewalk. He was dressed like he was in a roller disco movie, purple sequins and star-shaped shades, and sailing through the crowd.


Through a crosswalk at a busy intersection.

But you know what else he was doing besides living his best life?

Flipping through Instagram on his phone. I kid you not, he was fully browsing the latest from the people he follows on Instagram WHILE rollerblading backward THROUGH a crosswalk. (And wearing those sunglasses.)

There‚Äôs a lesson in this besides you could be really, really cool and an awesome rollerblader and not value your life. True, but not the point I’m making.

The lesson is that some things are EASY to use. A smartphone (or Instagram) is SO easy to use that you (well, maybe not you and definitely not me, but this guy at least) can use it while rollerblading backward through California traffic.

Our product — live entertainment — is not easy to use. In fact, a big part of the benefit or point of live entertainment comes from the fact that it’s rare and difficult to achieve.

Hard to use: That’s the nature of the product, but it makes it all the more important that such a product be EASY to BUY. When there’s a big barrier to the USE of a product, it makes a lot of sense to make that product super easy to BUY. But how are we doing on this as an industry?

Not great, unfortunately. In fact, without meaning to, I’d say our industry has made it pretty hard to BUY live entertainment. Ticket buyers are generally confused, frustrated, suspicious and trepidatious. (That’s right, trepidatious.) But this isn’t a necessary state of affairs. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to talk about this: How the way people buy live entertainment is harder than it needs to be and why it’s important that it
be easier.

Some things are easy to buy and easy to use: bubble gum.

Some things are hard to buy and easy to use: auto insurance.

Some things are easy to buy and hard to use: golf clubs.

Some things (ugh) are hard to buy AND hard to use. That’s where we live. But we don’t have to. We can do better.

Stay tuned, and we’ll talk about how.

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