The concerts where you pay what it’s worth

The concerts where you pay what it’s worth


norman lebrecht

July 21, 2015

Manchester’s Halle Orchestra has announced a scheme where concertgoers will pay afterwards what they think the experience was worth.

‘We wanted to do an event which would bring in a new audience,’ says chief exec John Summers. ‘People who thought classical music was not for them or had never been to a concert hall and were kind of scared by the whole rigmarole.’

Drinks can be brought into the hall for these special occasions. That might help.

you all got a drink

‘Priceless Classics’ will take place at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on Sunday 6 September at 6pm.



  • SVM says:

    Audience-members slurping drinks is a deal-breaker for me, since it detracts from my capacity to concentrate on the music. As matters stand (speaking from London), it is bad enough when audience-members fiddle with bottles of *water* mid-piece. I would urge any people who feel similarly to me and who are attending to, instead of paying money, leave a note saying that not a penny will be paid until drinks are banned.

    • Ellingtonia says:

      You could always request that anyone sitting within 4 seats of you is strapped into a straightjacket………….that will stop them moving or consuming liquid.

    • Martin says:

      There are people who need some water as the heat and other factors make them feel unwell. I am one of them.
      If you’re that easily distracted and this intolerant you should consider help from a shrink.

      Venues and events where I am disallowed to take my water bottle in I won’t even consider visiting again. So far exactly 0 concert venues have disallowed it, some only after discussions – like Operahouse Zurich, but even they buckled after my usualy argument that they’d lose one of their younger customers.

      However, I wouldn’t even consider bringing in a bottle without a lid or even a glass of beverage and I don’t open the bottle during a silent moment. I usually wait for the brass to make some noise.

    • Holly Mulcahy says:

      For what it’s worth, there have been at concerts on multiple occasions where patrons sitting in the expensive box seats, paying $200+ per ticket, dropped champagne glasses. Not only shattering the glass but shattering a good quiet moment in a symphonic work. It was perfectly fine by most of us in that orchestra because, 1. people were actually in the audience, 2. people were having a good time, 3. the orchestra received concessions profits, and, 4. offering beverages made people feel welcome.

      When I go to a movie, even the cheap matinees, or the free movies or Grant Park concerts in the parks here in Chicago, I have never once heard a slurping audience member…it’s always the cell phones that are offensive.

      Perhaps we should be far more worried about making people not feel welcome, included, or even wanted. I would rather play for a full house of people discovering classical music than a 20% sold house full of worriers who are pre-offended and pre-frightened by the possibility of noise. Honestly, there are very simple ways of sharing the “rules of concert etiquette” in a nice way before a concert starts.

  • V.Lind says:

    Nope — I’m with SVM. There is also the potential for spillage as patrons climb over you to get to their seats.

    Pay what you think it’s worth could be an eye-opener, though. Keep us posted on what they take in!

  • Ula Zarosa says:

    In the old days, the bards played the ballads by the fires and listeners rewarded them afterwards. The more beautiful and moving the story was, the more they gratified an artist. Money or gifts were not just a charge for commodity but an expression of admiration – directly, from hand to hand, without institutions in the middle which controlled them and took most of author’s income to cover the costs of their functioning or their greed and arrogance. The human bonds between storyteller and their audience was lost in what we call civilisation progress.

    “And what if they will not pay?” I heard so many times when creating my ‘read first, then pay what you feel it is worth’ ebookstore I believe that people are good in general and only those who are capable of stealing themselves suspect others for wanting to do so. If one imagines others to enjoy the book and cynically not use “support the author” link, they are the one who would do it themselves. We treat our users fairly and we hope that in return they will also be fair to us and to the authors.

    “if there’s a possibility to pay or not to pay, the choice is simple”, some said. But look, people freely pay more for fair trade coffee or the products certified to be pain-free for animals. They just want to be sure no one suffers because of their choices. People voluntarily use charity surcharges in online shops, seen and gratified by no one, just to make someone’s life better.

    So far over 150 authors have been brave enough to join our (r)evolution with 313 of their books. So I’m not the only one who believes that yes, we can. And change we need.