All good things come to an end…..my last Rollercon coming up


I think I have been to 8, but not certain.

But this one is my last.  Lots of reasons but mostly personal.

I will go out with a bang:  hosting final interactive Brown Paper Tickets seminar Thursday, July 28, 3:15 pm room S456 at the Westgate.

talking about make your events successful and a lot more.  prizes, of course.  hope you all come.

I hope you will come and see me during the week.  I will be either at Brown Paper Tickets in the admission section, or with my buddy Doug at the Roll Models (uniform) booth, or walking around…but only on Thursday will you be able to hear my priceless words of wisdom.

Two of my Derby wives will be on hand:  Val Capone and Donna “Hot Flash”, but will miss Lara Irons, Lori Milkeris, and Carly Marie.  And Barbara Dolan and Bob Noxious aren’t coming either, nor is Szerdi Nagy or Mellfire or too many others, but I know about 5000 of you will be there, so no chance of being lonely.

And I still am with Brown Paper Tickets and always accessible to discuss anything with you……what kind of company hires somebody when they are 80 and only cares that its clients are satisfied?  honestly, nobody like them.

see you round the pool

The Commissioner

 

 

Roller Derby 2016, a look ahead


A facebook friend whom I have known for 6 years had an image come on his page which was from Key Arena in 2009, where the whole lower bowl was filled with 7000 fans for Roller Derby for the Rat City League.

It seems as though that was a high point for fan interest in games for most leagues.  Today many leagues have moved down in the size of the venues (and if they haven’t, they should check their average attendance and realize they are not in operation to pay high costs to venues), and are they really assessing the strength of their attraction to a paid audience.

Let me make a point here that always seem to be contentious to those who developed the modern flat track game.  I take no credit for what you have developed and have spread virtually worldwide.  In the past, I have been the subject of resentment (by a very few) because of my family’s creation of the banked track game.  I am sorry for that, but I think most know that I am only interested in the skaters and the success (however measured) of what they are doing.

I as a promoter and as a spectator really liked the game in 2009…obviously it has changed since then and, except in a few exceptional areas, attendance has declined. That should tell you more about the reality of the situation than anything else.  Once you open the doors and charge admission, you are in competition with all other forms of entertainment (whether you want to call it that or not), and what you present is how the public judges if it is worthwhile to spend their time and money there.

So there’s the rub; most of those who have entered the world of skating do so because it fills a special need in their lives and they enjoy it: “Roller Derby saved my soul”.  I would ask you evaluate your league and its objectives very realistically:  if what you are doing satisfies all the participants, then don’t go crazy try to make it a success as a paying sport…..obviously, you must get more dues-paying members and find other ways to fund.

Bob Noxious and I present a seminar annually at Rollercon, and we will address most of the problems you are facing….and not just on a marketing basis.  Bob has written some great features on Derby on the Community page on Brownpapertickets.com, including methods to promote, to gain new recruits, to operate as a business and more.  And obviously I have many years background in promoting Derby and other sports.

Look to the leagues that remain successful…what is the key to what they are doing. Communication is the key here; everyone should not feel she has to reinvent the wheel.

Derby is not going away….with over 1800 leagues in 58 countries, more men’s and junior leagues, it has a real foothold in the more than decade it was developed.  And we at Brown Paper Tickets will help in any way we can.  I am jerry@brownpapertickets.com.

what about ticket scalping for Adele, Springsteen, Rollercon MVP passes, etc?


Perry G. Brown is pissed.

He went through the process of trying to get tickets through Ticketmaster for a popular show, and in spite of being on line at the start of the sale, got a sold out status. But tickets were immediately available through secondary market (shall we call them legal scalpers?)

And all of you know this from your own experience.

I included Rollercon MVP passes above to grab some of you; even though they are sold out now you still have a chance and won’t pay over the preset fee, and I will explain here later.

Many of you know I have been in ticketing for years and years. I started BASS Tickets in northern California and later became Executive Vice President, sales and marketing, for Ticketmaster in its formative years.

BASS and Ticketmaster were part of the initial distribution for venues, sports, and producers. The beauty of the systems was that you could restrict the amount of tickets any individual purchased; screened the outlets (i.e. record stores, etc) to see if the procedures were being violated and more. Should have been perfect.

Well, the system worked when promoters like Bill Graham were involved. When an event went on sale, almost no tickets were held back, except a limited amount by contract with the bands, record companies, etc; and never the first ten rows; those were for the fans. On one famous occasion Bill went in line to where Grateful Dead tickets were going on sale. He wanted to make certain that those in lines were fans and not hired buyers. So he asked those  people to name three Dead songs, and when they couldn’t he pulled them out of line. He also required that none of our employees or store managers, etc, could buy first.

But not everyone was Bill. Promoters throughout the country held back tickets and would sell them to brokers at a price above the face value, and in most cases report them to the agents and acts as sold, and hold back the excess. (Promoters of very popular acts worked on a percentage of the revenue and would look for ways to increase their revenue).

Today things are completely different, and I will try to explain. And none of these pertains to Brown Paper Tickets as they operate on an entirely different basis.

When Ticketron (not all remember) was the national ticketing company promoters were charged a small “inside” fee on each ticket sold, and the consumer paid a relatively small service charge. When Ticketmaster came into the marketplace, promoters and producers were offered a different deal: most would pay nothing (depending on their size and imporantce), again based on potential volume of an exclusive arrangement for all tickets sold away from the venue or promoters box office, they might receive full computerization, ticket selling machines, and a rebate based on anticipated ticket sales. Thus the ticket company became like the concessions at a ball park or arena: in order to have the contract, a certain amount had to be guaranteed to the venue (ever wondered why you pay $10 for a beer or hot dog?)

And eventually the agents, acts, etc wanted a piece of the service fee, so today you may find ticket prices of $150 with a service fee of $30 or more (sometimes, much more).

And instead of having a few hundred stores and phone room selling tickets when a performance goes on sale, now you have tens of thousands of potential buyers who can order on their pcs, mobile devices, etc. So you depend on the luck of your attempt to purchase. And to further complicate the buy, now the primary ticket distribution system in most cases (Ticketmaster) owns Ticket Now, a secondary ticket seller (Bill Graham is spinning in his grave) and there you go. So if you have $1500 or $2000 to spare you might get an Adele ticket.

And let us talk about the way that MVP tickets are sold through BPT. Between now and July tickets that can not be used will be listed through Rollercon for other buyers as all are presently sold out. And they will be resold at face value, and since the pass holders are required to show identification at Rollercon (driver’s license), the passes cannot just be sold to someone else as each one has the buyer’s name on it.

So you say, why doesn’t Brown Paper Tickets handle these events with its no charge to producers, 99 cents service fee plus 3 1/2% to cover the credit card (on the $150 ticket described above, the BPT service fee would be $6.24). So why don’t these venues use BPT that has all the ticket selling capabilities of Ticketmaster? The answer is money; BPT decided a long time ago that they would help the producers and ticket buyers (see our doers, our community projects like blood drives, etc) and not put up huge sums (some venues get guarantees of $1,000,000 to handle their tickets exclusively). and all the Roller Derby Leagues, clubs, festivals, etc and etc that have made the company one of the world’s largest (and better customer service than any) was a risky way to go for President William S. Jordan and CEO Steve Butcher. There is a satisfaction in what is being provided. And everyone in the company follows the same path.

And although I am not a very religious person, I feel I am finally doing penance for my part in the whole mechanism…..thank you Brown Paper Tickets for giving me happiness in the ticket world.

Rollercon 2015: banked track, 3 birthdays, ending Roller Derby Wars


I have really been remiss in posting here….but so much going on.

Going to my seventh Rollercon, certainly a highlight of the year. It is no secret I loved banked track Derby; after all my family started it, I grew up with it and it was the game when we became a national favorite, sneaking up on established sports with over 15 million watching on television weekly, and over 3,000,000 attending games yearly.

All Leo Seltzer wanted was his game to survive, become a nationally played sport, and be in the Olympics. When he died in 1978 he no longer even talked about it. His creation had disappeared.

And then you all came around…..starting from one league in Texas (that word is kind of misused; they actually had, and still do, 4 teams in TXRD), and transferred to flat track by one very creative league (Texas Rollergirls) till today when there are 1853 listed leagues in the world. (check out the amazing website by Sam Santos, http://www.derbylisting.com).

So that brings us to Rollercon, which has to be the mecca for everyone in the game to journey at least once…..over 5000 from virtually everywhere will cram the Westgate in Las Vegas July 22 till 26, all created by Ivanna S. Pankin and friends. (get down on your knees and give thanks). And check out the master schedule at Rollercon.com for whatever you want to do.

9 tracks this year for training and games and one banked track! And the most amazing games ever are scheduled…..most are created for the event, and you might learn a lot from that fact alone. Skaters regardless of rule set, age, or geography playing for fun. Have you lost the fun in the game? Is it less fun for spectators to pay and watch? That may be one of the most important considerations for your team, league, whatever.

Bob Noxious and I will go there in our marketing seminar Friday at 1:30 at Rollercon….not just advertising, promotion, ticketing, but making your games events…..and fun!

And there really are more than three birthdays, but the especially noticeable ones are Rollercon and WFTDA’s 10th year, and the 80th birthday of the game itself. We will celebrate it at the Brown Paper Ticket booth on Thursday the 23rd at 3:30 with cake and juice, and stars of the past: Judy Arnold, Frank Macedo, and Hiroshi Koizumi on hand, and some stars of today: the immortal Merby Dick Roche, who at 75 is in his fifth year with his team (league?). There will be some surprises on hand also.

The game is thriving, but in reality the world doesn’t know or fully accept it. Instead of fighting amongst the rule sets, why not all join in figuring a way to really broaden the base to the general public and make certain that what you are presenting can be appealing to a non-derby affiliated audience. Unfortunately, when you are charging admission, you are competing with other forms of entertainment, and to survive you have to keep the fans you have and grow the attendees. as I said, Bob and I will address that as part of the larger picture.

This is more than a game to the majority of you; you are not paid, you sacrifice your time and money. But the huge reward is a world that most do not know or understand, a kinship that extends far beyond the game, team or league. Somehow you must let the world see that.

And please come by the booth and give The Commissioner a hug. It is what keeps me going and coming back.