Ask Me Anything: Reexamine Pricing and Scaling

February 25, 2019

“How often should we be reexamining our pricing and scaling?


Knowing how your audience responds to your single ticket and subscription prices, your house-scaling, and price schedules (variable pricing by Day Of Week/Time of Day/Time of Year/Product, etc.) is critical to ensuring you’ll maximize revenue and meet budgets. Changing things up yearly is a bad idea simply because you won’t have enough data to see trends clearly. Maybe you had a particularly fantastic year, which causes you to over-price in the next. You also want to avoid subscriber confusion about what they can reasonably expect to pay each year for their seats.

Similarly, waiting too long to adjust prices can really upset people. If your tickets have been $30 in the rear orchestra for 10 years and they go up to $40, you’ll have a lot more people noticing and upset because they’d become used to that reliability.

So what is the secret sauce? Probably somewhere between every three to five years. It all depends on how sales go. If you have a steady three years of reliable programming and audiences, that’s plenty of information to make some data-driven decisions about how to set correct pricing and scaling. The four- or five-year cushion can allow for transitions in programming, venue, staff, technology, etc.

We’d recommend this be a regular process you work into your strategic planning. Let’s say you just adjusted prices for 2018-19. So in 2020-21 you should start conversations about examining them for adjustment sometime between the 2021-22 and 2023-24 seasons.

Getting your organization on this cycle can also help train your patrons to expect things will get shaken up every few years, but probably not in a dramatic or unpredictable way.

And as always—if you feel it’s been too long since you’ve done a pricing assessment, JCA Arts Marketing is here to help you out


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.