Posted at 3:32 PM on May 5, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
Starting this week, buying cheap tickets in the Twin Cities should get quite a bit easier.
Goldstar.com, a business that partners with purveyors of live events, ranging from sports to comedy to classical music, is expanding its reach to Twin Cities metro area. The site sells half-price tickets to cultural events, helping theater companies and sports teams to fill up seats that might otherwise be empty. Goldstar.com co-founder Jim McCarthy says many people have the misconception that most shows sell out:
In reality that's not true - the great majority of performances don't sell out, but that doesn't mean they're not successful. If a theater sells 80% of its seats for the run of a play, that's going to be a wildly successful show. But it still means that 20% of the house is still available to sell. And there's no reason to let even one seat go unsold.
According to McCarthy, Goldstar.com's goal is to help people overcome whatever barriers that stand between them and going out to see a live event.
If you're like most people then you want to go out to things like theater, comedy and sports more than you currently do. Our mission has always been to get people out seeing live performance more - it makes their lives richer and better. The biggest competitors outside of price are movie theaters, dvd rentals and inertia. Inertia is a formidable competitor. It's free and readily available.
To help overcome people's reticence to go out, Goldstar.com offers advice on such matters as how to dress and where to park. It also gives users the opportunity to review shows they've seen. McCarthy says reviews are limited to people who've bought tickets to a particular show through the site, thereby screening out illegitimate raves and rants.
Already several local companies, large and small, have signed up to work with Goldstar.com, including the Guthrie Theater, Minnesota Lynx and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Walking Shadow Theatre Company has also joined the new site. Executive Director David Pisa says he's pleased by how much control he has over his company's listings.
What's great for the company is that it truly appears to be all sorts of entertainment that's listed, which is important to us because it means it will reach a wide variety of people. We're in the point in our history where we're trying to reach new audiences. So we'll go wherever we can to reach people who haven't come to our shows before. We would much rather have somebody in a seat no matter what they're paying, than have that seat go empty.
Pisa says he's hopeful the Goldstar.com site will help baseball fans to try theater, and dance lovers to give comedy a try.
There's no fee for companies to work with Goldstar.com; the site makes its money off the transaction fees it adds to tickets. Those fees average around $4.50 per ticket. Jim McCarthy recognizes that's a little more pricey than what other venues charge, but he thinks it's worth it considering the half-off price of the ticket, as well as the extra information and service the site provides.
For companies worried about developing younger audiences, Goldstar.com offers a hopeful statistic; about two-thirds of its one million users nationwide are under 40.