Variety cuts their coverage. Should you and I complain?

Variety, one of the few “trades” that remain, has changed their business model over the past twelve months, just like most media companies, and, well, like most companies period.

They’ve put their online articles behind a paywall, fired critics, and just recently I noticed that the legit coverage I pay $299 a year for has now been cut to just one page, and one feature article.

Am I mad?

You betcha.

But not at Variety.

Look, Variety is a business, just like Broadway, just like a diner, and well, just like your own household.

When you can’t pay your expenses in any of those situations, you have to cut out the crap, or the stuff that isn’t necessary, in order to survive.

What I’m mad about is that somehow, Broadway has become the crap.

We’ve failed to make ourselves relevant enough to the modern readers of Variety.  The higher-ups had to think that a cut in our coverage wouldn’t cause that much of a stink, or put that much of a dent in their subscriber base either. There was obviously a meeting at some point where someone at Variety said, “Look if we cut theater coverage, we may lose X number of subscribers, and that will decrease our revenue by Y. But since we’ll be saving Z dollars, and since Z is greater than Y, it makes sense to lose the page.”

And if you are having trouble keeping the lights on, then that’s how meetings should go in industries of all kinds whether that is on Broadway, in a diner or in your own household.

Because that’s business.

And we don’t have to like it.

But yelling at Variety isn’t going to do us any good.  We’ve got to yell at ourselves and find a way to make us important enough so people aren’t cutting coverage, they are adding it.

That’s a constructive use of our time.

Yelling certainly isn’t.

Comments
  • Adrian BB says:

    Variety should cover more theatre, so should every trade and popular magazine. But you can’t blame Broadway as an industry for losing coverage because it’s not “interesting.” Variety has done tons of surveys of their readers over the years and I bet the legit section was important or it would have gone — like music (remember when Variety had music sales charts?) It’s about advertising. Broadway cannot afford to be a regular presence in a trade paper. Advertising $s more than ever are being spent to sell tickets — rather than brand or boast. Hollywood studios will still buy tribute ads and even sections, but not Broadway. Variety has theatre casting and news items every day. And after we took away their valuable exclusivity on running weekly grosses, Variety still ran the numbers. We should support Variety by giving them as much news as we can. The paper remains very good to the legit industry.

  • Ed from Connecticut says:

    Unless, of course, they’re wrong and just haven’t realized it…yet.

  • CL Jahn says:

    It’s pretty to believe that newspapers take into account all the variables before changing their business model, but I’ve seen little evidence of it.
    Variety, like other papers, is losing money. Like other papers, it’s reducing coverage and firing reporters to stay afloat. And like every other paper, it won’t work. News is the engine that powers the paper, and reporters bring the news in. Dumping stories and reporters is like cutting off the engines of an airplane to cut down weight to save fuel.
    Are you really going to keep buying a paper that is no longer relevant to your business? I know I’m not. So maybe we’re not the majority of the readership, but we’re certainly a chunk of it, and when you’re already losing readers every issue, can you afford to lose more?
    You did get one part right; Variety is assuming that we’ll all keep reading simply because producers read Variety.
    I won’t yell. But I won’t pay for a paper that’s not relevant, either.

  • Nick says:

    I think you’re being a little too easy on Variety. They should be too blame. There are plenty of stories to tell about the legit theater industry, especially with the Hollywood-Broadway-WestEnd-etc connection, they’re just not doing a good enough job of reporting.
    And why should Broadway shows advertise in Variety if Variety’s coverage is insufficient?
    I think the trades are dying because New Media are doing a far better job of giving the audience the quality news they crave. So in all fairness, Variety’s woes and their decision to cut back on theater coverage is not the fault of theater, in my opinion.

  • Russell says:

    I agree. If the shows are good enough, they will cover it–they won’t be able not to if the songs are on the radio, the film adaption is huge and everyone’s flocking to see this great show.
    The answer to this problem, like most of the problems with have in America right now, is to stop aiming so low and squabbling over scraps from the tables we think we have no control over. Let’s get innovative.

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