One Marketing Agency May Have Found Secret to Attracting Young Audiences

Classic Arts News   One Marketing Agency May Have Found Secret to Attracting Young Audiences
A California-based company called Goldstar Events ( is working to turn tech savvy youth‹attached to their iPods and TiVos‹into regulars at major halls, opera houses and theaters. And it's working.

With 2,000 diverse venue partners in eight cities (including Berkeley Repertory Theater, the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Philharmonic), Goldstar offers the largely movie-going, under-40 crowd half-price tickets to live shows; membership is free and requires filling out a compact survey asking for one's entertainment preferences from categories like Popular Music, Classical, Comedy, Theater, Film, Family, among others. On joining, members get event offers tailored around their preferences, and thereafter receive weekly email summaries of new additions.

Two-thirds of the company's 315,000 members are under age 45, the The Wall Street Journal reports. Said Goldstar CEO Jim McCarthy, the venues are seeing "more color, fewer gray heads."

McCarthy along with friends Robert Graff and Richard Webster founded Goldstar in 2002. The company acquires tickets by persuading major arenas, halls and theaters that discounting extra tickets can be lucrative. Many of the events listed on its site are undersold, and the money—save for an average service charge of $4 per ticket—goes to the venues.

Between July and October 2006, Washington's Arena Stage sold 59% of the tickets it offered through Goldstar, The New York Times reported last November. The theater saw first-time customers and some who returned paying full-price for tickets.

"We are not in this to advance the arts," McCarthy told the Times. "We are glad to, but we are a business. Ultimately, we must provide value."

There's also variety. Under its Unique Ideas category, the site sells tickets for multi-course brunches, speed dating events, champagne happy hours and a make-your-own sushi night in New York (now sold out). That category, along with Comedy and Theater, tends to be most abundantly supplied with events.

Fine arts institutions working with Goldstar include the New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic and the San Francisco Opera.

"We started working with Goldstar this season," New York Philharmonic Director of Public Relations Eric Latzky told PlaybillArts. "We offer tickets to them on an occasional basis, depending on the strength of sales on a given night. Generally speaking, we feel it's been a success—and has opened up an avenue to a new audience." A recent tally of event offers in the Classical category came to ten nationwide. Offers in New York are also relatively scant, as the company's New York website opened less than eight months ago.

"Our goal is to help people have a great night out for about the price of a movie," McCarthy told last year. "We believe that live entertainment, whether high, medium or low brow, does wonders for people and makes their lives better. So we think the more we can put great customers together with great entertainment, the happier everyone will be."

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