I'm taking the new few days off. You've Cott Mail will return next Tuesday, July 19.
'Twitter Feed Crossover Edition' for July 2011
Since the majority of you only receive my daily email, many of you miss out on some additional stories of interest that I post on Twitter which don't fit naturally into one of my daily themed email editions of You've Cott Mail. Here are some recent stories I've highlighted on Twitter. --TC
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Are Shakespeare festivals bored with the Bard?
The Denver Post, 7/3/11
This year, only 37% of the productions offered by the 10 leading Shakespeare festivals in North America were written by their namesake. And while offering non-Shakespeare titles is hardly new, fests are turning to a much broader variety of programming. Alabama Shakes is serving up Menopause the Musical. At Orlando, it's A Tuna Christmas. At Utah, Dial M for Murder . And in Lennox, Mass.: The Kick-(Butt) Wit of Molly Ivins. "What I make of that is, Shakespeare wrote 37 plays, and there are only about 12 that people really know to some degree," Colorado Shakes producing artistic director Philip Sneed said. "It's hard to do those same 12 plays over and over -- and the other 25 are much harder sells." Festival leaders are responding to the times, changing tastes and a surge in entertainment competition. And none too soon. According to the Institute of Outdoor Drama, a public service agency that tracks audience trends, average nightly attendance at outdoor Shakespeare festivals fell 42% from 2001 to 2010. Does that mean Shakespeare is on the run? Not so fast, say festival directors. "Most Shakespeare festivals could not survive without their core Shakespeare audience," Sneed said. "But I don't think they can be 'either/or,' anymore - they also have to reach people who are interested in other plays."
A blogger comments: "Stop telling me what to think about your show"
'Lucky', TheCraptacular.com, 7/12/11
It's happened twice now, at two entirely different kinds of performances. Before both performances, a well-meaning member of the production staff got up, addressed the audience not about the show itself, but about what people were saying about the show. The messages were different, but the goals in both cases were the same: to control the discourse about the show beyond the walls of the theater. Their logic, in both cases, was that the work onstage was new, in development, and somehow "unready" for critical analysis. Pre-show instructions about how and when I am to discuss the art that I'm about to see is more than just a basic drag. It's an imposition on how I think and communicate. I had my first blog when I was 16. I've been tweeting for four years. These technologies are part of the intrinsic fabric of my life. Artists have a lot to say about their "process." These technologies are an integral part of mine. To tell me not to blog is essentially telling me not to think. Or not to chat with my friends. It's telling me to enjoy theater in a vacuum. It's also telling me to enjoy art in a way that is only useful to the artist. Please don't act like my thoughts and reactions to the piece somehow belong to you and not me. [And] please don't assume that I'm incapable of evaluating bad press -- or understanding the preview process -- for myself.
Ticketmaster faces class action lawsuit over service fees
Live Nation, which has had to fend off similar legal challenges in the past, is facing a class action lawsuit in Baltimore over the service fees the company charges on tickets. The lawsuit takes the unique approach of essentially accusing its Ticketmaster division of being a scalper by charging above face value for tickets, which is against the law in the City of Baltimore. The lawsuit was filed by Baltimore resident Andre Bourgeois, who bought tickets in 2009 to see Jackson Browne that carried a face value of $52 each. Ticketmaster then allegedly tacked on additional services charges of $12 per ticket, which represent more than 20% above the "value of the ticket." The city prohibits ticket agencies from tacking on convenience charges over $0.50 above face value, but Ticketmaster routinely adds fees well in excess of the allowed amount, according to the lawsuit. Over the years, fans have cried foul over the fees, which at times have exceeded 40% for some events, and in an effort to appease ticket buyer, Ticketmaster has occasionally sold tickets with all-in pricing. In 2009, based on public finance reports, Ticketmaster generated over $1 billion in revenues as a result of the fees, which were charged on tickets worth a total of $8 billion, the lawsuit estimates.
UK Ticket Trust launches, an 'ethical ticket exchange' to combat fraud
The controversial topic of secondary-ticket sales heated up this week with the launch of The Ticket Trust. Set up by the U.K.'s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), The Ticket Trust promises to offer a "secure ethical ticket exchange" service to counter the growth in unauthorized online ticketing by fraudsters and scalpers. Launched three years ago, the AIF has about 30 festival members, which sell about 350,000 tickets combined a year. AIF says 18 members have already signed on to use the Trust. However, non-AIF members are also welcome to participate. At its website, buyers unable to attend events for personal reasons can return their tickets to the Trust. Once verified for authentication, the tickets can then be resold at the original price plus a 10% maximum handling fee. The Trust is jointly launched with Sandbag Ltd, an "ethical" e-commerce specialist that sells ticket directly to fans for major artists such as Radiohead, REM, and Adele. An estimated $19.2 million was lost to ticketing fraud in 2010, while one in 12 ticket buyers has fallen victim to fraudsters.
Is your box office ready for the future of mobile payments?
We know that mobile payments are redefining commerce, but will our phones soon replace our wallets? PayPal seems to think so. The payments giant boldly predicts that the wallet will be dead by 2015. It's putting its money where its mouth is: It recently acquired mobile payments provider Zong for $240 million. PayPal isn't the only one getting into the game though. Google recently launched [the] Google Wallet mobile payment system, and Visa recently made a strategic investment in Square, the mobile payments platform now worth more than $1.4 billion. Professional community service G+ decided to look deeper into mobile payment trends and created an infographic that tracks what experts and analysts believe will happen to mobile commerce in the next four years.