The Economics of Perceived Value — Pay What You Want

Kahlil Ashanti
May 28, 2019 · 3 min read

We are in the midst of a cultural creative revolution, with more content to consume than is humanly possible. We have too much choice without having to leave our homes.

This makes it difficult for artists, creators and venues to build new audiences.

According to a recent study cited by the Wall Street Journal [paywall] the top 1% of touring performers are selling 60% of the tickets. Where does that leave everyone else?

Music Superstars Are The New 1% (WSJ)

Venues want to be seen as cultural hot points where audiences can discover that next up and coming act.

Getting audiences to commit to butts in seats for an act or experience that they may or may not have heard of is risky. People have a hard time judging the value of an unknown property until they’ve experienced it.

So why are we constantly asking people to pay beforehand?

I have done my share of gigs since 1988. I understand the hard costs of putting on an event. These costs must be covered, and this particular model might not be a fit for every experience, artist or venue.

It also happens to be the most effective model for growth.

The perceived value of any event or experience significantly appreciates at the end, when the emotional reaction is highest. Why not ask people to contribute then?

The most valuable currency in a connected economy is more than just financial — it’s attention and enrollment. You can build trust in creative and inclusive ways that will pay dividends that are much more relational and long term than insisting that they pay an arbitrary pre-determined amount.

What if you knew:

  • exactly how much people were willing to pay for a given event vs what you’ve been charging?
  • the average spend compared to traditional pricing?
  • if you’re attracting new audiences and if so who they are, where they’ve come from, how much they paid and if they made a return visit?

These are just a few of the data points we’re seeing with our platform.

It’s counterintuitive to let people see the gig first and then decide what they want to pay afterwards but we are seeing a substantial shift in this thinking. The customer-centric approach is causing a lot of creators and venues to question why more people aren’t doing it.

People want to be entertained and inspired and be a part of something. They also want to belong not just in the instant, but afterwards as well. Theaters who use pay what you want models almost consistently make more money vs the traditional approach and at the very least they attract new audiences.

The digital economy has introduced a question of perceived value. Every day more and more people want a say in how they value experiences.

The days of companies ignoring the importance of perceived value are numbered.

-Kahlil Ashanti

Kahlil Ashanti is an actor, web developer and entrepreneur. He is also the Founder and CEO of, the world’s first digital pay-what-you-want platform.

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Kahlil Ashanti

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Actor, Web Developer and creator of I dig audiences of all sizes shapes and colors. Bring them all together in one big jambalaya.

The Startup

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