Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Bargain Bin

I received an email from my Broadway friend today. I hoped he was asking where to send cash for his share of some recent tabs, but no, he made no mention of that.

"Wow, did you see your Twitter Feed today? I just noticed that TDF is now broadcasting the shows they offer their members! It's a master stroke!"

His emails always dispensed with the usual social niceties, but that let him get to the point.

I replied, "Yes, I did. But I'm confused. Since when was it a good idea to make public deep discounts on Broadway tickets? Whose going to buy regular priced tickets, or even the normal discounts like Direct Mail cuts, or even TKTS?" I clicked send.

His answer came swiftly, at the speed of internet!

"Don't you remember anything? We've already established two things. We talked about all this already, don't you remember? The general public is ignorant. A collection of idiots! On the one hand, they love a deal. On the other hand they feed their ego on overpaying. Broadway, among all savvy purveyors of "commodities", is more than happy to give the people what they want! Fill it up with Premium, please!"

His message continued, "Look, we know from hard experience that TDF members, by and large, are the bottom of the barrel. Most are slobs that love the dirt cheap price (yet still want tenth row center), and many others are serial abusers of their membership, continually buying excess tickets for their family and friends and going into business for themselves, reselling cheap Broadway tickets at a profit."

I thought to myself, "Wow, this is harsh. He's not pulling any punches here!" Can't hit send with thoughts, not yet, anyway.

"Fat premium priced tickets, regular priced tickets even, only fuel the fire at the very few winners on Broadway. You KNOW that! The rest of the pack muddle along on all kinds of unending discounts. What's the difference if TDF sells the worst seats (or even the best seats) at the slowest time of the year for a pittance? Better than empty seats, my airline executive friends always say!"

"Aren't we trying to make money here? All the discounting becomes incoherent at some point, no?" was my curt reply.

"No." was his even more curt answer.

"Wha-a-a-at?" was my question.

"Just as we know that the audiences are lame narcissists with no grasp of economics, when it comes to producers, you ain't seen nothin yet! It's OPM, my friend. Other peoples money fuels the engine. For their money, investors get to go to an opening night party, hobnob with famous people, get house seats for shows, and pretend that the glitz and glitter of Broadway will somehow transfer to them. It's both funny and pathetic! But that's what makes the Broadway world go around, when all is said and done. And don't forget, it pays your salary, and the salaries of everyone on Broadway. There's real value in that, wouldn't you say? So what's wrong with TDF trumpeting their dirt cheap prices to fill the houses of the Broadway also-rans? It makes everyone feel better when the theaters are full, right? Most shows lose money, so what's the bloody difference? These producers and their investors are getting what they paid for, as does the premium ticket buyer and even the lowliest TDF putz."

I felt speechless. His email paragraphs seemed to go on forever.

"I can't argue with you. Once again, you've made your case quite well," I sent a few moments later.

",...btw, when can we get together for a few drinks? I think it's your turn to pay." I was unsubtle, but I couldn't figure out how else to end this email exchange.

His reply came five minutes later.


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