Choose What You Pay

Considering Choose What You Pay for your ticketing but not quite sure what it means for you? Read up here on why we are offering it and how it works.

Why is Basement offering Choose What You Pay (CWYP)?

It’s 2023 and life is pretty expensive. Along with putting cherry tomatoes in salads, attending live performance will soon become a seriously elitist sport if we’re not careful. At Basement we want everyone to get their healthy dosage of live performance, so this year we’re taking some bold steps to make that happen.

We’re introducing our new ticketing scheme Choose What You Pay - and it’s fire. It gives the power to everyone that wants to see a show to decide how much to spend on their ticket.

Why choose Choose What You Pay?

In a nutshell, the Choose What You Pay ticket type is about equity. It offers more opportunities for different people to see and support your show. It gives audience members the agency to pick their own ticket price without experiencing judgement, and it gives artists the chance to get more communities closer to their work. 

But hang on… sounds a little utopian right? Wouldn’t a ticketing scheme like this be a real gamble … even if you are an established artist, or serious about prioritising audience accessibility? You may be reading this and thinking… dang! Won’t this seriously affect the income I get through box office? And we hear you.

But guess what…. live performance venues internationally have been doing this scheme successfully for years, and on average, their overall revenue intake is actually raised when compared to set-price ticketing models. For some audience members, a manageable offering might be a few dollars and a standing ovation. But for others, it might be a significant payment that quietly makes a big difference to your income and overall sustainability.

We don’t disagree that there’s a risk though, so you get to decide whether or not to go with Choose What You Pay for your show. But we also believe the risk is worth taking!

Why is it called Choose What You Pay?

Choose What You Pay is a term used for this type of ticketing all around the world. There are lots of other name variations of these models, such as ‘Pay What You Want’ or ‘Pay What You Can.’ For Basement, we like Choose What You Pay because it aligns with our values around choice and self-determination. We feel that ‘Pay What You Can’ places too much emphasis on a person’s socio-economic status, and ‘Pay What You Want’ can almost minimise and undervalue the artists’ labour. Words really carry so much power and because we’re talking about the delicate topic of money, we’ve tried to put as much thought into this as possible!

How does it work for audiences?

Tickets start from $8. We landed on $8 as we think this is an accessible price point for audiences while minimising financial risk for you.

From $8, ticket prices go up in $1 increments, with the maximum ticket price being $100.

Audiences choose their price via a slider. When they arrive on the page, the slider is pre-set  at $28 (the price of a Basement standard ticket) but the audience member can then move the slider up or down from here. 

How does it work for me?

Case studies with a similar ticket model show that a typical audience will choose a range of ticket prices, balancing out the average ticket price. 

When we did budget estimates, the average ticket price came to $23.19. The average ticket price for a show using the Standard ticket price option is $24.41 - so a pretty small difference!

If you choose this ticket option, it must be the only ticket option and it must be for the entirety of your season. So you can’t also have an Adult price and CWYP can’t only be on a Wednesday. This is so it is easy for your audience to understand it and get behind it, and also to keep the scheme fair for all. 

How should I tell my audiences about this?

Choose What You Pay may be a new concept to your audience, so we want you to feel well-equipped to talk about it when you promote your show.

It’s important to Basement that people don’t feel bad for picking a lower ticket price, or that their socio-economic status has been highlighted through this model.  At the same time, we also want to encourage people who are in a position to financially support your artistry to do so. It’s a fine balance and it’s really important to take care in communicating about it. Here are some tips on how to communicate Choose What You Pay with your audiences.

Ticket prices

Ways that you could talk about ticket pricing in your communications to audiences.

  • Tickets: Choose What You Pay from $8

  • Tickets are Choose What You Pay

  • Choose What You Pay tickets $8-$100

  • Pick your price with Choose What You Pay tickets to this show

  • Choose What You Pay tickets for everyone, every night

  • Tickets are Choose What You Pay for every performance

  • All tickets Choose What You Pay

  • Choose What You Pay = a no-questions-asked ticket price

Encouraging audiences to pay more than the standard ticket price

  • If you’re in the position to give, pay a bit more for your ticket to help us… 

    • … pay our artists a living wage

    • … put on the show

    • … get the show to XXX Festival

  • Support us and your fellow audience members by booking a ticket up to $100

  • The easiest way to show up and support Tāmaki Makaurau artists? Book a Choose What You Pay ticket from $8 to $100.

  • Choose What You Pay offers those who can pay more to directly help artists’ pockets and support sustainable careers in the arts. 

Helping people decide what ticket price is best for them

On the ticketing page of our website, there is a page detailing the ins and outs of Choose What You Pay and why Basement is offering it. On that page is a guide for audience members to help them decide what to pay if they are feeling a little stuck. Your booking site on iTicket will include a link to this page. 

What are the ticket fees?

Choose What You Pay ($8-$100) inside charges are:

$1.50 for iTicket

$1 for Basement

Sales offers

We love that Choose What You Pay means your audience gets to experience choice any day of the week. However, that leaves you without traditional sales tools like promo codes, earlybird pricing and ‘Cheap Wednesday’.

But! You can promote Choose What You Pay like a sales tool to audiences who you think would be attracted to ‘discount’ tactics with messaging like:

  • Tickets from just $8

  • Choose What You Pay tickets

  • Affordable tickets

We would suggest avoiding words like ‘discount’, ‘cheap’, and ‘bargain’ as they could be perceived as devaluing your show.

Door sales

With door sales, the box-office staff member will have to ask the audience member what they would like to pay. This may create an awkward interaction for the audience member and that is the LAST thing we want! To avoid this, a QR code that links to your show’s iTicket page will be put up by the bar, encouraging a self-serve box office. Posters and marketing material will be created and stuck up around the board to support this. 

If you want to make it available for your audience members to pay in person, let’s chat about how we can make sure that’s a nice experience!

Opening Night 

With Choose What You Pay tickets being available, you may want to consider decreasing your comp offers on opening night and encouraging guests to buy a ticket. Your friends and family are your biggest supporters and they want to see you thrive! So consider asking them to purchase a ticket to support you putting on the show and your career. Ways you could talk to them about this are:

  • I would love for you to support me in putting on my show by coming to my opening night and buying a ticket

  • You know the effort it has taken to put the show on, it would mean a lot to me to have you buy a Choose What You Pay ticket to opening night and celebrate!

  • Thanks for being a big supporter of my show! As you know, making shows ain’t cheap, so we would be over the moon if you could come along to opening night by purchasing a Choose What You Pay ticket

For arts industry invites, it may be difficult to convince them to buy a ticket as some are so used to being offered a comp. It may take a bit of time for the industry to catch on, so for now we would recommend offering comps to industry that you would value having at your opening night. 

After the show

You may come across an audience member after the show who LOVED it and felt that they underpaid for the ticket. Or, you may want to prompt your engaged audience to give to the future life of your company or show. There are two ways you could encourage people to give after the show:

  • Ask for your opt-in customer list from Alex after your season. Send an email out to them thanking them for coming and a link or an account number to be able to donate.

  • Announce on-stage after the show that you will be taking additional koha in the bar via a money box or bank transfer.

I have more questions!

We want you to be fully across what it means to have Choose What You Pay tickets. Please feel free to chat with Basement's Programmer, Marketing & Relationships Manager or Ticketing & Front of House Coordinator about opting for this ticket option.