Tour fees. Everybody pays them. Everybody hates them. Jersey Surf thinks they’ve found a way around them…sort of. The still-new-to-World Class corps from Mount Holly, NJ is allowing their members to pay whatever they want for their tour fees this summer.
The idea for Jersey Surf administrators is to make drum corps accessible to more students. “We’ve been working to create opportunities for corps members and their families to pay out of pocket only that which they can afford, while still having the opportunity to receive World Class instruction and a phenomenal summer touring experience,” says Bob Jacobs, Executive Director of the Jersey Surf.
The “name your own price” thing is not a new concept. Radiohead got lots of attention when they used the consumer-friendly business model with the release of their 2007 album, In Rainbows.
But can “pay whatever” work for cash-strapped drum corps?
If Surf had 150 members and each paid $1,500 in fees (a conservative estimate for a World Class corps), the corps would bank $225,000. Rest assured that money is all but spent already by the time it comes in.
With their new pricing model, let’s assume each member contributes $500―a significant discount from their usual $1,500, but still enough to feel substantial (and still expensive to anyone). With members contributing one third of their usual amount, the corps’ take drops to $75,000. So where will they get the other $150,000 that their budget requires?
Surf says they will offset the loss with aggressive fundraising. Call me cynical, but that sounds like a tall order to me.
A great idea, Surf should be applauded
The idea that members can pay anything they want for the season is very attractive. If Surf extends the policy into the 2012 season, it’s safe to assume that would-be auditioners ordinarily dissuaded by high tour fees will turn out in droves, hoping to march a spot for a more reasonable price.
Maybe that’s Surf’s master plan: advertise pay-whatever for 2011 and then rake in the audition fees next November. And you know what? It’s a great idea. Huge credit to Surf for their creativity in membership and fundraising. Anything that makes drum corps more available to young, interested students is a good thing. The drum corps community ought to be singing Surf’s praises for this program, and we ought to help them hit their budget goal.
Help Surf pay for 2011, even if you’re not a member
Surf will definitely need some help this summer. They’re asking for donations and contributions from fans to help them make up some lost ground. Please do your part to help them out. They absolutely deserve it.