A Broadway Top 40

Every week, Ryan Seacrest counts down the Top 40, in a tradition handed to him by the shaggy-voiced Casey Casem.  It’s a weekly “hit-list” that I listened to as a kid, and millions more listen to today.

Best of, Top 10s, etc. are consumer crack when it comes to judging products . . . but at the end of the day, what they are . . . are the “best of” marketing tools.

The Top 40 . . . The New York Times Best Seller list . . . Top Grossing Movies . . . these are all ways of getting out what the most successful products in an industry are, the Top 40 being the most successful because it not only lists the products, it allows you to experience the entire product at the same time.

We’ve got the Broadway grosses in our industry . . . but what’s interesting about this set of numbers is that it’s not a “top” . . . it’s a top and a bottom . . . so it fails to be a marketing tool, like the ingenious Top 40 or the NY Times list.  Even sites that recap weekly grosses like Broadway.com, publish the “underdogs” by gross and capacity (the former not even taking into account the size of the house or the type of show it is).

Do we need a new Top 10?  (I think we’re going to work something like it into BroadwaySpace.com).  Or if we don’t have a new Top 10, should we just be pushing for more publications to list our weekly grosses?  Is there another metric we could use to let consumers know what shows are the most popular that week?  And could we keep them coming back week after week to see the shift?

Whether we like it or not, consumers like to see competition between products in a related industry.  And, if it’s going to be something that will make them follow it for week after week, we should give it to them . . . as long as we don’t have to get Ryan Seacrest to host.


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  • Jake says:

    Totally agree. I’m a huge film box office fan and I read the commentary every week. Unfortunate there’s not something like that for the Great White Way. I use your box office post every week to put together a simple Excel model of who’s doing well and poorly. Would love to pass it along when you have the time. Currently red-flagged, Mary Poppins.

  • Danny says:

    Or maybe a literal “Top 40” — top 40 songs currently on Broadway. One step closer to bringing broadway music back into the popular vernacular.

  • I love your thinking, but I don’t see this one. Changes are too slow and Broadway is mostly a regional thing. Maybe a top ten Broadway-related Youtube clips?
    That could range from actual show clips, to regional and college clips, to actor clips, talk show clips, and even those millions of kids singing popular and tomorrow.
    That’s where more people could get into it.
    Doesn’t have to even be the most popular clips of the week– it could just be a fave five.

  • Dean Roth says:

    Part of the hurdle in getting publication is that the list doesn’t change very often. Wicked, Lion King, Spiderman, Book of Mormon, Follies, Jersey Boys — Five of the top six have been there quite a while. People will only publish things that holds interest — which means they have to change week to week. Percent Capacity may be a better metric. Although it stays pretty much the same at the top, the 5th-10th spots swing wildly, and aren’t restricted by the size of the theater. A hot new show can easily break in the percent capacity list even if it’s in a smaller (say, 700 seat) theater.

  • Demi says:

    NO I’m sorry. Broadway shows are much more complexed than songs. People have their own opinion on each and we shouldn’t make a “top” list. We have the Tony’s which is decided by (at the time) best music, story, set, actors, sound, lighting, costumes etc. It’s fun to watch and to root for our favorites. This is where it ends in saying what’s best. Then we have people’s choices, outer critic circle awards, and drama desk awards which gives other perspectives. This is where it ends and we shouldn’t change it.

  • Yosi Merves says:

    I like the idea of Top 40 Broadway songs much better as well. For me, the Broadway show metric that fascinates me the most is average ticket price, giving an idea of how much people are willing to pay to see the show. Percent capacity is my second favorite in that sense.

  • jim says:

    it’s Kasem…with a K, but i only know that because I’m old and also remember the Big Bopper…btw, who is Ryan Seacrest -:)

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