Ticket prices and bootstrapping a show in the Net era

My grandparents owned a corner store when I was a kid.

I went to law school, took classes at Kellogg and worked at New Line and Apple in strategic new business positions, not to mention with plenty ‘o start ups, but I learned more about business from the corner store than anywhere else.

Retail businesses scaled into Macy’s and Walmart. Along the way most of them lost the humaity and sense of service that makes a small business truly successful.

Now that the Net is capable of video and some basic infrastructure pieces are in place –video hosters like blip, blog software like WordPress (just to name a couple that I use)–it is possible to build a little corner store of a show and grow it.

And that’s exactly what I plan to do. The second season of my interactive talk show begins September 21st (Theme: Does art change anything?). Unlike most videoblogs and online shows before it, it is based on a live experience with an audience (who are truly participants). The experience of the show comes, in large part, of the mix of guests and audience members and inclusive vibe. We have few public commons where people can meet each other and even fewer where we can openly discuss the most important issues of our lives without political posturing creating an experience as whitewashed and removed from real life experience as mainstream television. There is a cost to capturing this and bringing quality conversation and interesting people to a bigger audience than the ones who can fit inside the garage where we tape. It’s much, much less expesive than making a television show, but quite a bit more than vlogging alone at home, talking into your webcam.

So this season I’ve taken a page from different conference models I’ve seen and suggestions from Shannon Clark, Gimme Some Candy, and conversation on Jerry Michalski‘s list to create a pricing model with multiple tiers.

I’ve always kept the show open to anyone who bakes for it and anyone who needs it to be. I don’t want a lack of money to keep people out who want to be part of the community and conversation.

Regular tickets are $15 (lube tech) and now a sponsor level ticket $30 (greasemonkey) is available if you want to help back those people who can’t afford tickets. If you’d like to support the show as a patron and back the podcast with a producing credit of your choice of 5 words, and access to green room fun there are a few $100 tickets available. And if you really love the show and want to be a regular, I’ve begun a season pass (warranty) $125 as well. The intention of this pricing is to keep the show open to those who need it to be free, while making a dent in the podcasting/vlogging costs for the show.

I’ve been speaking with different online networks as possible distributors. Will I be able to bootstrap all the way or will I need to take some investment partners ?

I’ll keep you posted as the adventure continues. I look forward to hearing your ideas and your feedback.