Batting Practice on Broadway?

One of the first lessons I learned from one of my very first business coaches was that all companies should have at least five revenue streams leading to its bottom line.  It’s a way for a businesses to not only build upon their success (when they have it), but it also diversifies companies within themselves.

Broadway Producers and Broadway Investors have a hard time living up to this axiom because we’re limited from participating in some of the “no-brainer” revenue streams that accompany a Broadway show.  We can’t be the ticket provider.  We can’t sell the drinks and candy.  We can’t print the free programs.  (You know why we aren’t allowed to do any of these things?  Because they are all money makers – and someone else got a hold of ’em first.)

Our primary revenue stream is, of course, ticket sales.  We’ve also got a piece of the t-shirts.  We’ve got a piece of subsidiary rights (high schools and movies and such).  But there’s not much else.

I believe that our goal as Producers, like the goal of any business owner, is to try to find additional revenue streams, even within the confines of our restrictive industry.

And the other day, I came up with one, which I thought I’d throw by you.

Have you ever been to a baseball game, an hour or two before the start time?  You can go to your seat and watch your favorite players warm up, and take batting practice.  Some of the sport’s biggest fans can be found sitting in the stands, watching every pitch.  Ever go to a golf tournament (like I did last week)?  You can sit behind the players as they whack balls on the driving range, warming up before their round.

The point I’m making, of course, is that watching the preparation before the event is a show in and of itself, for a select group of fans.  And that group just happens to be the die-hards .

What if we charged a few extra bucks to allow folks to sit in their seats as the show went through its “pre-set” and sound check?  They’d probably see some dancers setting up.   Maybe a host could explain what was happening, and why each mic had to be tested, and why the crew was working on that one specific light.

Shows aren’t like sports, of course, and there are “secrets” in the set and the performances that we might think is spoiling it for people to see beforehand.

But who are we to say it spoils it?  If someone wants to show up and watch, then why not?  And ever since Dorothy got a bit curious, we know audiences are always curious as to what really goes on behind the curtain.

I’d test this out by offering it to premium ticket buyers first, to see if it gets any traction.  But I guarantee there are some folks that would want to sit in.

I can guarantee it because I would have been one of them.

This idea probably isn’t for everyone, but let it inspire you to think beyond merch and high school productions to find an additional source of revenue for your show.  Because one of the reasons our recoupment rate is so low, is because we don’t have many ways to make a buck.

Find a few more streams and the risk for yourself, and for your investors, will be greatly reduced.


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  • Great idea. I’d gladly pay for that experience if handled well.

  • Carvanpool says:

    Bad idea. Who gets the proceeds from “batting practice”? Not the folks that are being spied upon, I presume.

    Unless you are prepared to split the money appropriately, this idea is a strike out.

  • Barry Reszel says:

    It’s just not a parallel proposition. I hate the idea of unmasking the magic. Now offering insight into process for die hards is interesting…tickets to casting or the sitzprobe? But even as I consider that those might be saleable, I don’t think either would be fair to the actors/musicians.

  • Debbie Saville says:

    A very successful format I use is creating an “after show” event that extends the theme of the show. For my current project, the musicians are part of the show, they are weaved into the storyline and it is balanced in a way that does not distract from the production. I also feature a “finale” number after the actors curtain call as the band is featured for their curtain call. After the introductions the narrator says to the band… “Ok boys, you know what to do, take us home” and they do…right into an after show reception with a 30-45 minute music set. Not only is this different, it has a “GREAT” word-of-mouth effect because the audience always leaves wanting more. I have learned over the years to think beyond the obvious both in my corporate and creative work. I always ask myself, What is the creative intention and does it engage the employee/audience?” I never start an idea with “money” as the first intention, because I believe it shuts down the creative process of capturing your audience.

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