Why Live Event Venues Are Never Full for Long, and Why That’s OK

Fifty percent of seats for live entertainment go unsold. Or is it 40 percent, or maybe 35? Different analysts and executives from major ticketing organizations have been quoted over the years at different numbers, but let’s just agree that it’s a substantial percentage, and a staggering raw number.But it’s also a classic “glass (or venue) half-full or half-empty” kind of question. Is the unsold seat total a bad thing, or is it more complex than that?Let’s work through it....

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In Case You Missed It

• Words are powerful, but when you use the wrong words to describe your business you might as well be speaking nonsense. Goldstar CEO Jim McCarthy explains why words like "guest" aren't the right way to go in live entertainment.• The Royal Opera aims to grab a younger audience by slashing prices and performing a risqué show for opening night. And that's only the beginning …• Earlier this week, we chatted with artistic director Jack Reuler from Mixed Blood...

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The Lion King Goes Viral

Who doesn't love a little free publicity? That's exactly what The Lion King production in Australia got when the video below went viral.To celebrate the launch of the show in Brisbane, cast members sang "The Circle of Life" on the airplane back to Sydney. You can feel the energy and even if it was preplanned, the video doesn't feel that way. It's fun to watch and easy to see why everyone's sharing it.

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Selling Out With

Selling Out With Jack Reuler

Is "free cheaper than cheap"? For Mixed Blood Theatre in the Twin Cities, it seems to be. Its admission initiative called "Radical Hospitality" allows anyone to attend a show for free. Three seasons of the campaign is paying off with increased popularity and donations.After hearing about the program on, we spoke with Mixed Blood Theatre artistic director Jack Reuler. He shared further insights into what aspects of the program are working, what they're continuing to tweak and what...

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Customer Service

When Bad Reviews Turn Into a Win

No one ever wants bad reviews, but in the live entertainment industry there's always the possibility that an audience won't respond to your show the way you would like. And then, what do you do? Ignore the comments, or use them to build a better event?A great example of doing the latter is haunted house/immersive experience The Purge: Fear the Night from Blumhouse Productions, makers of horror films Paranormal Activity and Insidious. The initial idea was a free-roaming house...

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Bright Ideas

The Secret to Children’s Theater That Sells

Now that you're convinced you need to "get 'em while they're young," the trick is figuring out just how you're going to get them. Disney and Dreamworks have done a remarkable job creating movies that appeal to both youngsters and adults, but how does that translate to live entertainment?Utah's Deseret News looked into just that in a three-part series on children's theater. They asked a few local experts what's worked for them and came away with some great advice...

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Is Opera Failing to Do the Math?

Following in the footsteps of the New York City Opera and Opera Pacific in Orange County, the San Diego Opera will be calling it quits at the end of the 2014 season.Ian Campbell, the company's general director, told the Los Angeles Times that ticket sales had been declining as well as donations, primarily because of death and the economic downturn.A follow-up piece by the Los Angeles Times expressed surprise (and a little outrage) at the closing, using San Diego's...

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Sometimes It Takes the Dead to See the Future …

Not zombies, just hippies. Specifically, the Grateful Dead. Scott McDowell wrote a great piece on 99U recently reminding me of what I’ve long believed. The Grateful Dead were decades ahead of the rest of the live entertainment business in a number of ways.You should read the whole article, so I won’t distract too much from that, but I want to point out a couple things that I think are of particular interest across all genres. He highlights “building a...

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My Dear Aunt Sally

I don’t have an Aunt Sally.That was just my way to get you to start reading this before I tell you that I’m going to talk about math …But before you click "back" or shriek in Wicked Witch-like horror when doused with water, know that I majored in English in college! I wrote a thesis about Frankenstein. I like T. S. Eliot.I’ve got non-math-person cred.So stick with me. If you’re a live entertainment marketer and you’re math-phobic, I’m going...

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Word Stock

Word Stock Market: Service

The Word Stock Market is an occasional feature on, where I will tell you whether to buy, sell or hold a certain word based on whether that word has a strong future or has seen better days. For example, if you’d bought the word “hybrid” 10 years ago (when it meant a cross between a horse and a donkey, not an eco-friendly car), you’d be rich today. On the other hand, if you’d bought “digital camera,” you’d be...

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