1/3 of the musicals currently running on Broadway . . .

. . . are based on a pre-existing musical catalog or are known as a so-called jukebox musical.


1 out of 3.


I know you’ve probably thought about this before, but I just couldn’t help mentioning it.  It’s quite a trend, don’t you think?

So why is this?

Is it because the music and the artist behind it provides a pre-existing brand that is makes it easier to market?


Is it also because putting a musical together when the score is already written is a heck of a lot faster than writing a musical from scratch?

Why yes, I think that’s part of it as well.

And what about the fact that two of the most successful musicals of the last ten years are jukebox musicals?

Easier and faster . . . and more profitable.

Unfortunately, all these things mean that we’re going to see more of these jukebox musicals in the future, whether we like or not.

Want to do something about it?

We just have to come up with other ways to make original things easier, faster and more profitable.

And if we don’t, I think we’ll need a third Tony category soon enough:  Original, revival and jukebox.

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  • Chi says:

    But long run profitability isn’t just a function of ease of production. These things are obviously filling a gap in the market.

  • Anna says:

    I agree the Tony needs a new category for jukebox!!

  • Matt says:

    There’s got to be something said for familiarity.
    To court the coveted out of towners, you need to present something familiar. For the cost of tickets on TOP of their travel expenses, how many people want to be going into a show based strictly on reviews/word of mouth or even less. With a jukebox musical, after, the audience knows that, regardless of the script, they’re going to hear Green Day/ABBA/Four Seasons music that they already KNOW that they enjoy.

  • Doug Hicton says:

    I think another reason for their popularity is that some producers, writers, and audiences are very, very lazy. I have not seen a single jukebox musical that I liked, and I consider them a blight.

  • Jon says:

    There is a difference, though, between a show like Jersey Boys or Million Dollar Quartet, which is an excuse to put 20 of an artist’s songs on stage, and American Idiot or even Mama Mia, which creates an original story around pre-existing work. Crazy For You was basically a Gershwin jukebox musical, but it told a new story, and wasn’t just biographical or a concert.

  • Elisa Clayton says:

    Ditto for a new Tony Award category!

  • Elisa Clayton says:

    Film and television writers have been using jukebox songs for decades to enhance their story lines. In light of this fact, one could say that the evolution of jukebox musicals has been slow. I think that filmmakers figured out long ago that the use of popular music has a subliminal affect that helps the audience emotionally connect with the characters and situations more readily. Also, in the case of musical theatre, the use of popular music gives writers that aren’t musicians, yet have an ear for music and a talent for using it to enhance a story, another creative outlet. Plus, I hope that musicians will begin to see the creative opportunity the jukebox musical affords them to participate in a genre they haven’t considered, which in turn could lead to the deliberate creation of new music by more of the world’s best songwriters!

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