When I started planning my Declassified concert series earlier this year, I knew two things about the admission. One, it needed to be extremely affordable; almost anybody should be able to attend. Two, it needed to not be free. My concerts had some value to the audience, so I wanted to create the expectation that the audience had to give some value in return.
These seemed like competing goals, but as we know from my 'What's Value?' post, there's more than one way to receive value. Besides getting paid, all artists—and businesses, for that matter—benefit from being known. So the admission requirement was easy; I could require people to talk about the show they'd just seen.
That's why admission for my Declassified shows is $10 or a social media share. The money is nice for obvious reasons. The social media shares are often even better, because if the audience is posting about me online, they're probably saying good things. Plus it costs them almost nothing, yet it means a great deal to me. Mission accomplished.
So remember that there is always more than one way to receive value. Be thoughtful about what you're looking for, and especially encourage the exchange of things that are easy to give yet worthwhile to receive. You might even find that what you're offering is more valuable than you thought.