About Features FAQ

About Audience1st

Audience1st is a zero-installation, zero-maintenance, open-source, all-in-one system for ticketing, subscriptions, development, and backoffice functions, designed expressly for the needs, budgets and constraints of small to medium community theaters.

Audience1st is open source, and you can use and modify it royalty-free. You can either have your IT person deploy it, or pay us to host it for you.

Audience1st accepts payments for your venue via Stripe, which charges 2.9%+30 cents per transaction. If you host Audience1st yourself, these are the only fees you’ll pay (outside of your hosting costs). If we host it for you, we’ll charge you a flat monthly rate that offsets the direct costs of hosting, and no other fees, ever.

More than a ticketing system

Audience1st is a way to help build the “community” around a community theater. According to Theatre Communications Group’s TheatreFacts reports, most small nonprofit theaters rely on donations for up to half of their operating budget. That means that selling a ticket to a customer is just the beginning of your relationship with that customer – you need to turn discount buyers into full-price buyers, then into repeat buyers, then into subscribers, and ultimately into donors and supporters. Yet most low-cost third-party ticketing solutions stop at just that—ticket sales—with no mechanisms to help you manage this lifecycle, in which ticket-buying is just the first step.

How is Audience1st different?

Audience1st integrates your own ticket sales, third-party ticket sales (such as TodayTix, Goldstar, etc.), box office reports, calendar, up-to-the-minute ticket availability information (which can be easily displayed on your own web site), attendance statistics, donor management and followup, online donations, and support for email marketing campaigns, all in one Web-based system.

Who can benefit?

Audience1st was developed specifically for the needs of nonprofit community performing-arts organizations, with extensive functions for donor tracking and email campaigns integrated with ticket sales and box office operations, integration with social networking such as Facebook, streamlined user interfaces that are easy for your volunteers to learn (the box office agent’s user interface closely follows the patron user interface, so your patrons can easily become volunteer box office agents), and a high degree of automation around ticket sales, phone-based information and sales, reporting/bookkeeping, and box office management, to minimize human resources needed on your end.

I already have a ticketing solution – why would I need Audience1st?

If all you do is sell tickets, and you’re happy with the service and fee structure of your vendor, you’re probably set. But if you care about tracking your donors, building up a subscriber base, and connecting all of your patron-related functions together, you should ask what support your existing ticketing solution offers.  Even if you continue to use your existing solutions for ticketing, Audience1st can import that information and tie it to your patron-building activities.

Feature overview

About Features FAQ
  • Both general admission and reserved seating; use any spreadsheet program (Excel, Google Sheets, etc.) to define seat maps
  • Patron convenience: Patrons can buy or reserve online, or your phone staff can easily enter phone orders. Patrons or staff can then track their reservations and purchases all in one place, from any Web browser, and get automatic email confirmations whenever reservations are made or cancelled.
  • Front of house integration: A separate streamlined GUI lets you sell “walk-up” tickets at the box office, by cash, check, or a USB-attached card swipe device.
  • Subscriptions: Create and sell virtually any combination of tickets imaginable as a subscription; easily identify subscribers on all reports and give them exclusive or advance access to certain tickets.
  • Integrate with your Web site: Match your Web site’s look and feel using CSS. Display real-time ticket availability info or an up-to-date performance calendar on your website.
  • Donor & prospect management: Track donors, donations, and acknowledgment letters.
  • Email integration: Integrated with MailChimp(tm) email marketing service, or export reports to Excel or CSV format for use with your preferred mailing list system.
  • Credit card processing using Stripe, the seamless, no-hassle, economical credit card processing solution.  Setting up a Stripe account is free, takes minutes and requires no lengthy paperwork, and will allow your patrons to pay using Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Diners Club, Discover or JCB.  Stripe charges 2.9%+30 cents per transaction (3.5% for AmEx), and all your proceeds are automatically swept daily into your regular business bank account. There are no setup fees, monthly fees, processing minimums, or any other expenses whatsoever related to credit card processing.
  • Import historical data–mailing lists and customer lists–in Excel format. Import will-call lists from popular third-party ticketing services like Goldstar and Brown Paper Tickets.
  • Export mailing lists and labels to Excel or directly to email marketing services like Mailchimp.
  • Sell course enrollments and retail items (swag, raffle tickets, etc.) as well as tickets.
  • Sell virtually any kind of subscription: one ticket per production, flex passes, matinee-only or preview-only passes, offer special prices for students or artists, etc.
  • Ability to give subscribers exclusive or advance access to certain tickets before general public gets them.
  • Allows multiple price points for same performance, with both date and capacity limits possible on any ticket type

Integration with other Internet services/sites

  • MailChimp integration: allows targeted sending of emails to customers matching any set of fine-grained criteria (shows they have/have not seen, last login, donation history, etc.)
  • WordPress integration: a free WordPress plugin shows real-time ticket availability for upcoming shows, or design your own plugin that consumes an RSS feed
  • WordPress integration: display a calendar of upcoming performances right on your web site, using free or paid WordPress calendar plugins that can consume an iCalendar feed
  • Seamlessly import will-call files from Goldstar(tm) and TodayTix(tm)

Frequently Asked Questions

About Features FAQ

Ticketing

  • Does Audience1st provide telephone sales to our patrons?
    • No. Accepting phone orders and entering them into the system is your responsibility.
  • Is reserved seating supported?
    • Yes. Any performance can be either general admission or reserved seating, even differing between performances of the same production. If you can make a spreadsheet, you can create a seating chart.
  • Can you designate differently priced “zones” of reserved seating?
    • You can designate differently priced tickets where the price differentiation is based on when they are purchased.
  • Can you offer tickets that must be purchased within or during a certain time period (e.g. early bird or rush)?
    • Yes, you can control start and stop sales time, and maximum sales allowed, for each ticket type as well as for a performance overall.
  • Can you sell discounted tickets or give comps by having patrons redeem “promo codes”?
    • Yes, and you can choose whether to limit the quantity and/or sales windows for each.
  • Do buyers get email reminders that their event is coming up?
    • Not right now, but you can easily generate reports of who has reservations/purchased tickets for an upcoming performance and send that directly into MailChimp to do an email campaign.
  • Can you sell subscriptions?
    • Yes, you can sell regular subscriptions, “flex passes”, discounted subscriptions (e.g. for students or other specific groups), and so on. Philosophically, we believe developing a subscriber base is critical to smaller theaters, and many features in Audience1st are engineered around whether a patron is a Subscriber or not. For example, you can choose to make certain ticket types available to Subscribers preferentially or exclusively, such as high-demand tickets or discounts if they bring friends; Subscribers are visually called out on the door list; you can optionally filter customer reporting by Subscribers vs. non-Subscribers; and so on.
  • What if I also sell some discount tickets through Goldstar, TodayTix, or similar sites?
    • Audience1st can ingest the will-call lists and integrate them with your regular patron database, so you have all patron sales accounted for in one place and only one will-call list to manage at front-of-house time.
  • Does Audience1st support Pay-What-You-Can tickets?
    • Not at this time, but we’re working on it. However, you can sell the tickets as Comps at walkup sales time, and accept the corresponding donation.

CRM and Back Office Functions

  • Will you set up my season for me?
    • Audience1st is designed to allow self-setup of productions, performances, seating charts, and so on, to keep costs down for you, but we will work with you to train your staff to do this work.
  • Does Audience1st track donations?
    • Yes, patrons can donate directly online or you can manually enter check, cash, or in-kind donations, and run all the usual donation reports. Credit card donations go through Stripe, which is low cost and offers nonprofit discounts. Donations and ticket sales are tracked in one place for all patrons.
  • Can I import my previous customer lists, donation/ticket history, and so on?
    • Yes, we’ll work with you to import whatever information you have, as long as you can arrange to get it in an exportable format (CSV, SQL, etc.)
  • Do you back up my data?
    • Yes, your data is backed up daily, encrypted, and stored offsite.
  • Do you see my data?
    • You can choose to give us access to data as needed to address problems or concerns, but by default, your data is yours and we don’t look at it.
  • How does my theater get paid?
    • You set up a Stripe account (free) that can be tied to your theater’s bank account. All transaction revenue goes directly to you. We are never in the path of your cash flow and we have no visibility into your credit card processing.

Front of House

  • Can I sell tickets at the door?
    • Yes, “walkup sales” by cash, check, or credit card (using Stripe for processing) are all easy, and those sales are also directly integrated into your main database. If the walkup sale is to an existing patron, it can be linked to their purchase history.
  • Can I use Audience1st to sell concessions?
    • Yes, you can sell fixed- and variable-priced retail items through Audience1st as well, so you can centralize all your credit card processing.
  • How is check-in/will-call handled?
    • You can generate a printed will-call list or use Audience1st’s interactive check-in feature, which keeps track of how many have arrived (even if only part of a group arrives), how many are left to check in from advance sales, and how many available seats remain in the house.
  • Does Audience1st print tickets on ticket stock?
    • No physical tickets are produced. It’s 100% paperless, though printable receipts can be generated for patrons who desire them.

Appearance, User Experience, Marketing…

  • Can Audience1st serve as my theater’s main web site or home page?
    • No, but we can match the look and feel of your existing web site, and we have plug-ins and widgets that make linking to and from your web site seamless.
  • Can branding in the form of images, color palette, fonts, etc. be applied to Audience1st?
    • Yes, you can customize all of this via a CSS file served from anywhere that serves static files–your own server, GitHub, JSDelivr, etc.
  • Who pays the credit card processing fees?
    • Audience1st sends your money directly to your Stripe account, and Stripe will deduct their fees directly from that account as well. Again, we do not touch your revenue stream at all.
  • Can Audience1st just charge a service fee to the patron so we don’t have to pay for it?
    • If you want to host Audience1st yourself, you may do so royalty-free at your own expense. If we host it for you, every dollar patrons pay will go straight to you, and you will pay us for hosting. This keeps us out of the critical path of your revenue stream. Audience1st does allow you to configure charging a service fee if you wish to do so to cover expenses.
  • Can I use Audience1st for publicity email campaigns?
    • Audience1st doesn’t directly send marketing emails, but instead integrates with MailChimp, a best-of-breed email marketing solution that is highly recommended for nonprofits. You can generate customer lists matching almost any imaginable criteria, such as “Customers who saw any performance of ‘Hamlet’ using a Goldstar discounted ticket”, and export the result list to Mailchimp or Excel for a targeted email campaign. (Audience1st does, however, send emails directly to patrons to confirm transactions such as reservations or ticket purchases, at no cost to you.)

Deployment

  • Audience1st is open source – does that mean it is free?
    • If you want to host and deploy it yourself (which requires substantial IT expertise), you can do so for free. The code repository has instructions. Or, we can host it for you and take care of all server operations, for a price that covers direct costs. We’re not looking to make money from this.
  • Can you provide technical support to my staff for self-deployment?
    • Sorry, but we don’t have the resources for that. The technical documentation is pretty thorough.
  • How long does it take to get started?
    • We can have a site up and selling tickets/accepting donations for you in 24 hours. Importing your historical data may take a bit longer. Contact us and we’ll figure something out together.