Digital Hat? That’s a weird name, what is it?

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Digital hat is an experiment in revolutionising how we discover and pay for theatre.

I am a punk fan. Other stuff too, but mostly punk, hardcore, screamo. Guitars, shouting, that kind of thing. I was 14 when Napster was released. My musical maturity was shaped by sharing; it was also shaped by the staring at of progress bars, and never needing to pay.

I was 25 when I started always paying for music.

Because over 2 years or so my whole relationship to music and its worth has changed. For one thing it has become a relationship, social media has, in a big way, connected me to musicians and the work that they do much more fully. For another, the ability to trial music, listen to it on spotify or youtube, means I know what I’m buying, and that friends also share what they like, in podcasts, blog posts, tweets, and playlists. And a final thing; pay what you think it’s worth. Not ‘pay what you want’, I think it’s an important distinction, because I probably (leaving aside the relationship with an artist) want to pay as little as I can, but as soon as it’s framed with the notion of ‘worth’, suddenly I want to pay as much as I can. Bandcamp and social media changed my relationship to musicians, and the music they produce. The trust that ‘pay what you think it’s worth’ puts in me, makes me want to respond favourably. And actually, how artificial is a price point anyway? An album may only be worth £4 to me, it might be worth £20. Don’t you want my money either way? Often I’ll buy an album for a fiver and go and give back more afterwards. How much is the song you danced to at your wedding worth? How about the album that saved your life?

I feel part of a community, one that the web helps me find, and support. And I want to support it.

Over the past two years my relationship to how I discover and pay for new music has been revolutionised. I may not pay much more on average, but I know that it’s going directly to an artist, and I also know that I’m buying an awful lot more. Plus, more awesome music! WINNING.

In the checkout area, how often do we see theatres linking to similar work in other venues?

And while we’re at it, when have you ever used an e-checkout system on a venue’s site that was even slightly bearable?

How often have non-theatre going friends expressed a general interest, but just not known a) where to start or b) if it wasn’t just a bit too expensive?

How often have you carried a piece with you for weeks, months afterwards? How much do you think that’s worth?

I think that there is a bandcamp for theatre. Not bandcamp exactly. Not Spotify, or Amazon, not twitter, not just a recommendation site, a place to buy stuff, not a review site. Though it may look a little like all these things, it may not necessarily be just an online or web based system, it could borrow a lot from physical things like Oyster cards or loyalty systems. But a way of regulating, sharing, exchanging, standardising, offering, equalising, and making easy the act of finding, going to, and paying for theatre.

Seth Honnor and I are going to r+d this. We want to look at the data generated from ticket sales – the sharing of that data in a way that the theatre-goer is completely in control of, and benefits from (rather than just the ‘untick mailing list’ box). We want to look at changing the experience of paying for theatre, work on a scalable model that could be used by any size venue, that had room for recommendations, sharing, simple video or audio trails, and that are used by many venues. Imagine only needing to remember one password for every theatre checkout system in the UK. Imagine syncing tickets with your smartphone, so you don’t need to have it delivered, or pick it up. Imagine subscribing to the arts events calendars of friends, or certain venues. Imagine a system that allows you to put a deposit on a ticket, but doesn’t take the money until after you pay, after which you are able to pay what you think it was worth. Throw your money in the hat; that’s why ‘digital hat’.

That’s where we want to start thinking. digitalhat.co.uk/ Let us know if you want in, what you would want from it, or if you think it already exists. We’ll let you know soonish about our next steps. Early days, but exciting ones, I hope.

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2 Responses to “Digital Hat? That’s a weird name, what is it?”

  1. Casey December 10, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    Hi Hannah – I’m Casey and I work in digital at Northern Stage. Just stumbled onto this post but I really, really like the sound of this conversation and think it’s well overdue; and I’d be interested to discuss, help, or contribute to this project as it develops, it’s definitely piqued my curiousity…

  2. John Allsopp January 6, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    Sounds really interesting, I came to you via a Rich Huxley tweet. I’m a web developer, Internet marketer and people enthusiast (I don’t really care about tech or gadgets), so I’m grounded in usability first. If you think I might be able to contribute something, yell. But do it after 1st Feb because I’m stuffed until then :-)

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