Donations or Tickets? How to get paid for your digital recitals.

Jo and Alex followed the same river flow over many years. Skillfully perfecting their craft. Sharing ideas. Inspiration. Their purpose, to bring their playful imagination to others through writing.

One morning they awoke to find that their clients no longer wanted their work.

Desperate and in a panic. Jo and Alex each decided to write their first novel.  It was their only chance to continue their purpose and earn money from it.

Jo. Nervous. Doubtful. Fearful. Chose to publish the book for free. Asking readers to donate after having read it.

Alex. Nervous. Doubtful. Fearful. Chose to sell the book for an upfront cost.

What do you think happened next?

Donations After You Perform

You may have chosen a donation format for your digital recitals. You’re not alone.  I chose it when I set up Front Room Concerts. Partly because I was using Facebook as my live streaming platform. Also, I couldn’t guarantee the quality of the technology each performer might use.

6 months in and I started to doubt my decision. I would sigh and pace around my dining room searching for an answer. The problem was that 100 people would watch the performance, but only 8 donated.

If you go to the Wigmore Hall Live Streams on Facebook you can see the same problem.

Cédric Tiberghien performed a live stream at the Wigmore Hall in January 2021. Take a look at my screenshot below. Look at how many people are watching compared to how many people donated.

Ok, most people donate after the performance. So I checked the Livestream post 1 day later. Have a look at how many people donated vs how many people were watching. There is a big mismatch between viewers and the number of donations.

You are not alone with this problem.

The optimist in me shouts: There must be a better way!!

What Does Your Audience Want?

Instead of your doubt and fears choosing your payment method. Find out what your audience wants.

79% of people surveyed in the After The Interval: Act 2 by Baker Richards, WANT to pay for digital content. Yet, only 12% have actually paid for it since the first lockdown.

What’s causing this problem?

Let’s go back to Jo’s novel. How likely would you spend the time looking up how to donate and then donating AFTER having read the book?

It’s an unfamiliar transaction experience. You would expect to pay for it before you read it. That’s the majority of our day-to-day transactions.

Your audiences have paid for a ticket to watch a performance! The violinist, Elena Urioste, makes a powerful case for this here.

Your audience:

  • Wants to pay for your digital content
  • They want a familiar transaction experience
  • They want a convenient way to pay

How To Create Better Ways To Pay

Have your audience pay upfront. When they do, they are committing to your performance. You know in advance that there is an audience for your recital. You know beforehand how much you will earn. It allows you and your audience to feel clear, certain, and secure.

Here are some successful examples:

If you want your live stream platform and ticket system in the same place, you could use:

Both allow you to create your event, sell tickets and perform on it.

If you are choosing to use Zoom or a private YouTube stream, or another platform. You could use separate ticketing platforms like:

All these platforms use a process like purchasing something online. It’s a familiar and convenient process for your audience.

Most of these sites are free to sign up with. They will take a percentage of the ticket sales. You need to check this first.

You also need to check the PRS Licensing rules. You can find out more here.

Bonus: What Are Your Audience Going To Pay For?

Four common answers show up in various audience surveys. Your audience wants:

  • To learn something.
  • To be intellectually stimulated.
  • To be entertained.
  • To experience a LIVE performance that is specifically designed for digital viewing.

If you think back to your own digital consumption, this is also what you look for as well. 

To make it easier to sell tickets, your digital recital wants to tick three of those points. SHOW your audience this is what you are offering. It allows them to connect and trust you. 


Build up relationships with your audience first, before you ask them to buy a ticket for your recital. It takes time and consistency. You can find out more about this at :

Building An Audience Part 1


3 Creative Alternatives To A Facebook Event Post


Allowing free access, whilst asking for donations, leaves your audience in a murky grey area. It’s an unfamiliar day-to-day transactional experience. They want to pay for your digital content. Make it EASY for them. If you feel uncomfortable over money, Katie Beardsworth has a fantastic blog about this (click here).

Check if your digital recital provides your audience with the opportunity to learn, to be intellectually stimulated and to be entertained. This is what your audience is looking for. They are willing to pay for it. Clarity creates confidence.

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