Testing Modest Memberships

The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in Minnesota will begin testing the waters this fall on a new plan to put butts in seats – unlimited memberships for only $5 per month.

Compared with current ticket prices, which range from $10 to $40 per concert, the memberships may seem ridiculously cheap, as they’ll offer patrons a chance to see as many shows as they like.

But SPCO Director of Marketing Jessica Etten recently explained to Minnesota Public Radio that there is a strategy behind the bargain-basement membership price.

For starters, ticket sales don’t provide much of the orchestra’s revenue, which comes from philanthropy, she explained. And since SPCO’s mission is to share its music with as many people as possible, Etten said the low price point should help the orchestra do that by lowering “all the barriers to experiencing the SPCO.”

Though the best seats will be reserved for subscribers and single-ticket purchasers, 80 percent of the house will be available for members on a first-come, first-served, basis.