Thoughts from a Los Angeles Theater Producer

Reevaluating Your Ticketing Company

Posted in Producer Tools, Producer's League by Rick Culbertson on November 25, 2009

 Let’s say you get hired for a new job. On your first day you head down to HR and they tell you that you will be paid every two weeks. But, your first check will not come until around your sixth week and they are going to hold some of your salary every week and pay it to you after you quit.

That sounds crazy right? So why would you accept these payment terms from your ticketing company?

I haven’t written in the past four weeks. During that time I have received several emails from people who are interested in producing theater, who haven’t done so before. One question that often came up was: what’s the best ticketing company? Since there are many theaters that currently use ticketing companies that pay on a schedule like the one described above, I figured we could all use a post about ticketing companies.

So… here is my list of things to think about when selecting (or re-evaluating) your ticketing company.

1)   The most important thing to remember when picking a ticketing company is: IT’S YOUR MONEY. Since it’s your money, you should get it as quickly as possible. You shouldn’t have to wait for any of it. Some companies will give you a song and dance about accounting schedules and “blah, blah, blah,” but the bottom line is– if they can’t pay you every week in a timely manner, you need to go elsewhere. 

2)   Don’t be fooled by bells and whistles. Be wary of any ticketing company that offers marketing services. Most companies that offer marketing services require you to give them a “special deal” to offer their email list subscribers. This means that YOU have to cut your price (usually by at least 50%). This is not in your best interest (Read this post for more on this topic). To make matters worse, if your ticketing company is making you sell tickets at 50% off, where are you possibly going to sell full price tickets?

3)   Who answers the phone sales calls? In the best scenario, a local person will answering your ticketing calls, someone who can answer specific questions for patrons. But often, ticketing companies leave nothing more than a recorded message that only frustrate and agitate patrons– and sometimes even drive them away. A live person who is out-of-state, reading from info that you provide is better than no person at all. Patrons don’t like to talk to robot operators, much less give their credit card numbers over to them. How many times do you curse the automated menu just to get to your cell phone support rep? Don’t make your patrons think of the phone company when they’re trying to buy a ticket to your show.

4)   Integrate your website. Many theater companies don’t spend the money to build a website and instead, just go with a generic page supplied by a ticketing company. Don’t. Spend the $1500 and build a web page. It’s important and it makes you look legitimate. Your patrons can then buy tickets directly from your website. They prefer it, and it feels safer.

5)   Be careful of theaters that make you use ticketing companies in which they have an ownership stake. It’s one thing for a theater to contract with a specific ticketing company. But it’s another thing when they own that company. You wouldn’t want your apartment’s landlord to get your paycheck, deduct the rent, and then send you what’s leftover, right? It’s none of your landlord’s business how much money you make, and it certainly isn’t their place to be taking that money directly from your employer. Don’t make that bad deal with a theater.

6)   Watch out for service charges. Your ticketing company is going to charge you a fee and your patron a fee. You want to find a company that has low fees on both sides. Your patron doesn’t like the fee any more than you do.

Finally, because it’s important, I will remind you: IT’S YOUR MONEY. Don’t let someone else make money on your money. If a ticket company holds your checks for longer than a week or two, they are making interest on your money. If a ticket company tells you that it takes more than a week to process your payment, its time to get a new ticketing company.

Don’t be bullied or fooled.


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  1. […] a new blogsite I stumbled upon hosted by  producer Rick Culberston. One of his posts dealt  with Ticketing Agencies in general.  It was extremely informative.  I contacted Rick to see if he could offer any […]

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