If you, for whatever reason, set out to put on events that sells tickets for the purpose of entertaining anyone, from a single individual, to vast groups of people, you need to be focused on one thing: Entertainment Value. Whether people are conscious of it or not, that value is created by an emotional connection to the audience. This article is the beginning, setting the ground work toward actionable items that will help entertainers create higher value for those looking for entertainment, a systematic way to identify weaknesses, quantify them, and use those metrics to track your improvement.
In the years I spent pondering up Entertainment Value, I started looking at what I did as a musician, and realized because I’m performing to an audience who’s paid to come see me play, I have then become an entertainer (some musicians are not entertainers in the same way, songwriters and composers and the like). Not only that, but because they’re exchanging money to see that entertainment, the message conveyed is that my entertainment is valuable enough for them to part with their hard-earned money to see what I do. Therefore, I’m providing Entertainment Value to them. This is the simplest way to think about it.
Then I dove deeper into thoughts such as “Ok, well what would make someone think $10, $20, shoot even $100+ tickets are worth purchasing?” and “Why am I not seen as that valuable?” and lastly “What can I do to become that valuable, or at least close?”
So we’re all on the same page, I want to start by defining what I see as an entertainer. The official definition is :
In addition to that, I define an entertainer as someone with the resources and skills to provide entertainment to either individual people, or vast crowds of people, for various lengths of time.
For the sake of this theory, I separate entertainers in to further groups, individual entertainers, group entertainers, and entertainment curators.
- Entertainment Individuals: Some examples are comedians, acrobats, solo-performing musicians, and so on, but this can also include the entertainers who are part of a larger organization such as a professional athelete, or what I call Entertainment Group. Legally these individuals may be thought of as sole-proprietors who work for themselves most of the time, under contract work.
- Entertainment Groups: Some examples are bands, burlesque troops, professional athletic teams. Legally, this might be a partnership, under and agreement such as an LLC, or LLP, to which each of the owners has a stake in the legal success of the partnership.
- Entertainment Curators: These are individuals or groups, who may not perform for the customer themselves directly, but they create an event that gathers talented folks together for the sole purpose of entertaining. Examples are companies who put on music festivals, professional sports offices, local show promoters, art gallery curators. Legally these are LLC’s or even full blown corporations or publicly traded companies, that gather the resources and skills to provide entertainment to either individual people, or vast crowds of people, for various lengths of time.
I see the definition of value as a combination of both, the official definition of value shown immediately below, and my own explained after that:
After pondering the dictionary definition, I felt I needed to add two things to capture the definition of Value with respect to entertainment: the amount of money someone would give for the sole sake of being entertained by whatever ever idea you may have (not just music or being a musician, but ANY kind of entertainmet), and the word Value began to also represent (as the theory developed) the sum of a complex system unique to each entertainer determining whether or not someone will choose spend their money to be entertained by you again.
Passive Value, is the amount of money someone will pay for entertainment, but this is something an entertainer has almost no control over. Either customers will pay or they won’t, but this metric can be easily and objectively quantified. While I see it as almost completely passive, it can be influenced by ticket price. Ticket Price, combined with ticket quantity, offer you an understanding of the gross income your entertainment is able to generate. Gross income is not limited to these two, but these are the best place to start, and the best to set goals with. As you advance in your career, you may begin to include merchandise sales, bar sales, and any other way you are transacting money at a show, all of these play into your Passive Value Amount.
Active Value, on the other hand, you have complete control over as an individual, group, or curator, to improve your chances at increasing your Passive Value. These include reasonably definable metrics, that can only be quantified by polling the people you hope to entertain. The more you know about your customer, the better you can provide what they’re looking for. To improve your Active Value, you want to analyze what you do as an entertainer, and build categories representing each facet of what it means to be an exceptional performer in your area.
In my most familiar realm, the case of musicians, bands, or promoters, I break it into two areas, showmanship, and musicianship, for a live performance, and the goal of these two areas is to effectively connect with the crowd on an emotional level (a highly effective way to do this is to create moments in your peformance, via Tom Jackson’s Live Music Method), be it happiness, sadness, or what have you. Below are a few examples you might consider when looking to improve your Active Value metrics:
- Showmanship (some examples, but in no way limited to these items, as each group is unique)
- Crowd Engagement
- Eye Contact
- Emotional Connection w/ Audience
- Musicianship (again, not limited to these, but a good starting point)
- Skill Level
- Technical Proficiency
- Live Adaptation/Improvisation
The metrics listed above will change depending on what kind of entertainer you are, if you’re a comedian, or dancer, TV show host, MC for an event, and so on. I used music as an example because it’s what I’m most familiar with.
In summary, there are three kinds of groups that provide entertainment:
- Individual Entertainers
- Group Entertainers
- Entertainment Curators
and in order to provide the highest value to their customers, they’ll want to focus on maximizing two metrics:
- Active Value
- Represents metrics that can be actively improved by the entertainers
- Passive Value
- Represents metrics that are passively generated, as a result of your entertainment, easily quantified by the gross income of a performance
This is the first installment of hopefully more thoughts surrounding this theory. Any thoughts, or comments on this are welcome!