Ask Me Anything: Pricing a Quick Sell-out

June 11, 2018

We have an upcoming onsale for popular, one-night concert, which could sell out on the first day. Is it appropriate to raise prices during the on-sale day?


Organizations facing this issue often raise concerns such as:

  • Is it acceptable to raise prices during the rush?
  • Should we wait until the evening to increase for the next day?
  • If we raise prices as people are looking online (or going to the box office after looking online), are we going to have irritated patrons?

Here are some steps you can take:

  • Make sure you have language posted at your box office and on your website informing patrons that prices are subject to change based on demand. Hopefully this is not the first event you have raised prices for—you want your patrons to know this is standard practice.
  • Concerts like this draw fans who want the very best seats and don’t mind paying for them. If you truly think the concert will sell out on the first day you should 1) consider setting your initial prices higher than usual (i.e., to the level you might expect to reach with your standard second, or even third, pricing move) and 2) increase the number of first price or premium seats.
  • If you take these strong first steps you probably can keep the Day 1 prices and can wait to adjust prices again until the second day—if there is one.
  • Be aggressive! These events may not come along that often—take advantage of them.


JCA Arts Marketing collaborates with cultural organizations to increase revenue, boost attendance and membership, and grow patron loyalty. We provide consulting and software services to hundreds of cultural institutions across multiple genres, including dance, museums, opera, performing arts centers, symphony, and theatre. We can help you achieve your marketing goals.