Have an idea for a show? Here’s the First and SECOND thing you should do.

One of my most read blogs is something I threw down way back in 2009, entitled, “Got an idea for a show?  Here’s the first thing you should do.”

You can read that blog here.  And you should, because my advice holds true today.

The simple synopsis of that blog is that if you’ve got an idea for a show you want to write, produce, create, etc., then you should grab the domain name tout suite (aka NOW!).

The blog was written in response to a bunch of cyber-squatters I had run into on a couple of big Broadway shows, who held my domains ransom until I shelled out some serious cash.  See, as soon as they heard the show was in development (not even production), they threw down the $12 or so and waited until someone like me came along and wanted it.  Their ROI was well over 1000%.

The good news is that since that blog in 2009, Google has futzed with their algorithm enough times and consumer search behavior has changed so much that cyber-squatters don’t have the business they once did. But buying the domain for a musical or play that you’ve written as soon as you’ve got an idea is still an important first step for anyone trying to build a brand.

Because if you don’t buy it, someone else will.

But getting the right domain name isn’t enough anymore, especially if you want the holy grail of all things marketing…organic search traffic.  Imagine…free traffic, that others pay mucho dinero for, just coming to your site, learning about you and your shows, instead of someone else’s.

See, when Google futzed with that algorithm, they stopped rewarding people who just owned a domain that matched what the consumer wanted to find.  Now, Google takes a real hard look at the quality of the website that the domain points to.

Wait…you have an idea for a show…or worse…you’ve written a show…and you don’t have a website yet?  Or you have a website, but Google isn’t finding you first?  Or you’re a writer or director or actor or ANYTHING and you don’t have a website yet?

Sound the alarm.

Because the 2nd thing you have to do as soon as you have an idea for the show, or want a career in any business is…get a website.

Unfortunately, getting a website isn’t as easy as getting a domain (which is why Google started rewarding those with quality websites and not just clever domains).  But it’s so much more important.

Establishing your web presence early can easily save you thousands of dollars in advertising when your show is ready for production.  And it can help so many people discover you and your talent even before you have a show!  I know, because I’ve built about 50 in my career, including one of the first ever sites for an Off Broadway show.

Having a quality website is so important, we’re holding an online workshop entitled:  Websites:  Why You Need One and What It Should Look Like.

During this hour-long workshop, you’ll learn:

  • How to build a website (and your brand) without breaking the bank.
  • The one mistake even big-time ad agencies make when building a website.
  • How to use “The Secrets of SEO” to get people you don’t even know to visit your website.
  • A simple trick that I reserve for my consulting clients that can double and triple the traffic to their site.
  • What most web designers will leave out if you don’t ask for it.

And lots more, including a Q&A on all things web related that you might be curious about.

The Online Workshop is next Wed, July 12th at 7 PM EDT.  But if you can’t make that time, register anyway and we’ll send you the complete files the very next day.

The Workshop is $179, or free for ProducersPerspectivePRO members for only $97.  And you get all the other benefits that come along with a PRO membership.

This Workshop, like our others, is 101% guaranteed.  If we can’t save you $179 or make you a lot more than that over the lifetime of your show’s site, then just email us after you take the Workshop, and we’ll gladly give you a refund.

Sign up for the Workshop here or for PRO here.

Have you cut your electronic grass lately?

Websites used to be simple.

You put them up.  Period.

But you can’t get away with just erecting a site and walking away anymore.  Oh no.  Especially when you’ve got a long-running show.

You see, if the Internet is like the information superhighway, then websites are the houses along this electronic roadway.  And as consumers race by, you want a site that stands out and makes the driver say, “Oooh, look at that beautiful/interesting/unique ‘house’ . . . let’s pull over and see what’s inside.”

That’s why it’s important your initial design be something that can attract the consumer when they’re cruising by.

But that is not where your design job ends.

Too many shows (and businesses, for that matter) think that once they launch their mega site, they can move on to something else.  But that’s the equivalent of not cutting the grass in front of your house for months, or letting the paint peel, or not raking the leaves.  Who wants to stop at a house that looks like that?  In fact, when your site looks a little run-down, “drivers” will speed up instead of pulling over, and say, “Honey, we’re in a bad neighborhood, let’s get the eff out of here and quick!”

With that, you’ve lost them forever.

That’s why it’s not only important to freshen up your site with new content as often as you can get it, but it’s essential that you comb through your site at least once a month, looking for outdated content, stale information, and anything that makes it look like you’re letting the grass grow a little too high.

What’s great about the net is that it allows you to get the latest and greatest information on anything with the click of a button.  But that means anything BUT the latest and greatest information looks like someone doesn’t care.

And if you don’t care, how do you expect a customer to?


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Fun on a Friday: Ever wonder what Marlon Brandon put in his Bio?

Sometimes I think choosing what to put in your bio for a new show can be more stressful than the opening itself!  Do you include that Off Off Broadway show?  Do you thank your parents?  Do you add a ILYKD???

A little known fact – the reason that actor bios in Playbills are so short is that every show gets a set amount of pages from Playbill for free, and once those pages are used up, the Producer gets charged.  Take a big show with a big cast, and a lot of Producers, and you’ve added an unbudgeted expense to your weekly nut.  No good.  And that’s why you see so many 30 word bios.  And that’s why so many people stress out about ’em.

A fun little website called Trivia Happy wondered if some future famous actors stressed out about their first bios, so they dug ’em up and posted ’em here.   Included were the likes of Al Pacino, Charlton Heston, John Travolta and .  . . Marlon Brando’s, which went something like this:

Marlon Brando (Stanley Kowalski) made his first appearance on Broadway three seasons ago as Nels in “I Remember Mama.” He went from that to a leading role in Maxwell Anderson’s “Truckline Cafe” when he was first singled out by the critics for his performance in the role of Sage. Also impressed was Guthrie McClintic, who chose him to play Marchbanks in Katharine Cornell’s revival of “Candida.” He next appeared in Ben Hecht’s “A Flag is Born.” Born in Omaha, Neb., Brando spent his school years in Evanston, Ill., California and Minnesota. The choice of the stage as a career had never entered his mind until after he had come to New York and spent several months engaged in such odd jobs as running an elevator and operating a switchboard. When he did decide to go on stage he spent a year studying with Stella Adler and followed that with a summer season of stock at Sayville, L.I. It was there that a New York actors’ agent saw him and helped him get his first acting job with “I remember Mama.

Read the other actors’ bios here.

And then start working on your bio.  And yes, include the Off Broadway show, your parents, your website, and ILY2.


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Sharing helps sell . . . with stats to back it up.

A great new study was released on Tuesday from ShareThis that “provides insights into the relationship between online sharing of movie related content and movie ticket purchases.”

The bottom line take-away from the study was that consumers who share movie content are 6x more likely to buy movie tickets.

In other words, people that share, buy . . . a lot.

What does that mean to you?  Well, it gives us a smaller target audience to focus on (especially if you have a small budget).  If this research parallels the theater biz (and I have to think it’s pretty close), then if you can find users that share theater content, they are going to be much more likely to buy a ticket to your show.  Simple.

And, more globally, if we can get people who aren’t sharing theater content to start sharing theater content, then they may start to purchase more frequently as well.

Good stuff, right?  Simple actionable items based on quality research.

As I said, this study just came out on Tuesday, but something tells me our smart friends at The Shubert Org and Telecharge got an advance peek because look at this new Telecharge website that I stumbled on today.  It’s called BroadwayBoosters.com and it gives you points and eventually prizes for . . . yep, sharing content.  Pretty cool, right?  It’s a fantastic idea, although I still think an actual cash based affiliate program, like what has turned Amazon.com into the monster that it is, would be the best way to 1 – get Broadway content out in the world, 2 – sell tickets, and 3 – defeat scalpers.  (The Shubes are on a website releasing roll these days, with BroadwayDiscounts.com getting a release this week as well – which I think is an attempt to compete with crush BroadwayBox.com.)

You can read the full study here.  But it all comes down to what your Mom taught you when you were two.  When people share, both sides win.


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3 Things to Learn from Netflix.

As I blogged about on Friday, Netflix dealt the mainstream media companies a major punch-in-the-face last week when their original series, House of Cards, was nominated for a Best Drama Series Emmy Award.

There are a lot of business lessons to be learned from this Netflix story – in fact, Netflix could probably make an original series about what they’ve done over the last two years – and they’re on such a roll, it would probably be nominated for an Oscar (you can bet movies are next in their developmental line up).

But here are the top three things I gleaned from this story about original stories.

1.  What goes down can come up.

One year ago, NFLX stock was trading around 50, after falling from well over 200.  People were writing it off.  The mail order DVD business was dead, people screamed.  Because DVDs were dead.  Then the CEO made a series of pricing and press gaffes that POed a lot of customers, including me.  iTunes and Amazon were drooling, hungry to scoop up all the biz.

One year later, that stock price is back over 250.  That’s right, had you bought back then, you would have made 5x on your money.

Businesses, and shows, go through cycles.  You just have to learn how to adjust and re-invent yourself along the way.  That’s harder in the theater, but still possible with new cast changes, new marketing looks . . . and . . . what if you even made a change to your show?

2.  You get what you overpay for.

House of Cards cost Netflix $50mm per season.  And they greenlit two seasons at once, at a time when they weren’t rolling in cash!

They were in-it-to-win-crush it.

Now personally, I love to save me some money.  I also love finding new and hungry young talented artists.  But sometimes, especially when you are entering unknown territory (like developing original television programming), it’s important to get the best, and cut no corners when you do.  Spacey is expensive.  Fincher is expensive.  The rights to the British mini-series on which the show is based were expensive.  But all those things are also awesome.

House of Cards was a win for Netflix before it even began.  When it was announced that Spacey was doing television, and it was on Netflix, people took notice (and the stock price jumped).  And then the show delivered.

It’s tempting to cut costs when your business back is against the wall..  But sometimes that’s when you have to double down, especially on talent.

3.  Content is the once and future king.

You want to be successful?  You want to turn your company around?  You want people knocking on your door asking you what’s next and paying you more for it?  Create original content.  Netflix had been distributing other people’s content for years.  And obviously you can do well with it.  Look at Roundabout, for example.  The revival market has been amazing for them (so amazing, they’re even going to revive their most successful revival this winter when Cabaret returns).  Or look at Barry and Fran Weissler – who’s better than them at producing revivals of musicals? (Chicago, Pippin, Grease, etc.)  But nothing, nothing, trumps creating something brand spanking new and then owning it.


The future of Netflix isn’t all rainbows and puppy dogs just yet.   But their turnaround story is something to marvel at and learn from.  Just imagine that you were that CEO just a year ago, staring at that $50 stock price and making a $100mm big bet on something that you were just giving away to subscribers?  How would you feel?

I’ll tell you something.  Unfortunately, there will come a time in your producing career (or acting/writing/tomato plant growing) when you will know that feeling.  It happens to all of us and it will happen to you.

What you do with that feeling is what separates the Producers from the Boys.


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