How Amazon could muscle into the Broadway space.

This isn’t an exaggeration.

Amazon is taking over the world (wide web).

As of earlier this year, sales on accounted for 43% of  ALL online retail sales in the US.

You read that right!  Over 4 out of every 10 online retail transactions in the U.S. happen on Amazon!  4 out of 10!!!

One of the many keys to Amazon’s surreal success is that they have catered to both sides of the sales equation.  From the beginning, they rewarded anyone who sent traffic to Amazon with a couple of pennies worth of commission.  AND, more importantly, they expanded their marketplace to allow anyone to sell their products on Amazon.

I personally know several people who have made millions of dollars selling stuff on Amazon.

(In fact, we’ve got a few things . . .  my book, my Broadway board game (which we sell exclusively through Amazon) and this hot little product that we released for the holidays, and is flying off the e-shelves.)

Amazon is crushing it because buyers are happy and sellers are happy.

Win, win, and Amazon’s stock price explodes (I was offered a chance to buy into it in 1998.  My broker told me it was too expensive at $47.  It’s now at $1,127).

And because they’ve got that cash, they continue to expand.  And every industry they’ve gone after, they’ve disrupted.

It’s no secret that they are sniffing around, and waiting to make their move into live entertainment (specifically ticketing – since the secondary market has exploded).

And yeah, they’ll be after Broadway, for sure (another example of the Hamilton effect – big corporations are seeing there is big money here on Broadway and they want a piece). They’ve already been playing in the London market, and with their immense database of customers and more importantly, their buying habits, they could move a lot of tickets, and fast.

It’s going to be harder for them to break into the Broadway scene.  We’ve got our gatekeepers . . . and, honestly, those gates are up for good reason.  We’ve got to protect what we have before we let in a lion like Amazon.

But I started to wonder what would happen if we didn’t let them in.

Then I realized what a company like Amazon would do . . . they’d just make a musical.

When they wanted to get into the TV market and couldn’t find an easy path?  They created a production studio.  Through content, they found an in.

And what’s $20mm to a company like that?  I’ll tell you what it is. . . it’s what they profit in THREE DAYS.

Don’t be surprised if Amazon or any big corp that wants a flag planted in any area of the Broadway business, from ticketing to lighting to program printing, pushed their way in by creating a show and bringing the other stuff along for the ride.

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  • Joe says:

    Ken: I guess the next big question is how, as a producer, you don’t fight them on staking their claim, but getting in all nice an cozy with them. Imagine a crafty, smart intelligent producer could broker a deal with fledgling (albeit monumentally financially staked) company like amazon could help steer them in the right direction. Imagine the “smaller” shows that could really be helped by someone looking to get in the game.

    • Kathleen says:

      Are you kidding! The Amazon spread is for the purpose of making money and what is needed in theatre (and I think films are the same) are more stories that explore the human connection!

  • Derek says:

    Fortunately, Amazon are not stupid. When they started Amazon Studios, the film division, they chose Ted Hope to run the show. Mr Hope ran an independent film blog for years – and he was always highly respected for being a man of consummate good taste – with his head and his heart in the right place – greatly admired by the indie film making community around the world. Ken, If Ted Hope was chosen to help set up a Broadway division, you would have a kindred spirit to work with. I’m taking a guess you would get on like a house on fire. He is very thoughtful and wide awake – as you are !

  • Debbie Saville says:

    I am an out of the box thinker and the only comment I can make on this is based on personal experience with a charitable organization and the fact that I work in Corporate America. In both circumstances I have been involved for over 30 years. They both started with a heart, a passion. One is a former family owned business and the other a former 100% volunteer racing organization that started in a racer’s garage. Both organizations began with a “heart” and now they are both former shells of themselves. Although both organizations have made millions of dollars there are major cracks in the seams regarding their future. The family owned business is now a publicly traded company with no regard for those employees who put them on the map. The continual outsourcing of business now diminishes the value of what was once a leader in it’s field. The other situation, there is still the core group of volunteers who effortlessly bring this now 10-day racing event to life. But instead of being able to attend the “check presentation” after all their year’s worth of hard work, it is corporate sponsored and the volunteers have to pay a $200 ticket to attend because corporate sponsorship has taken over. So for me, be careful opening the gates to Corporate America, because for them it is “show me the money” first, so I can satisfy the stakeholders with no regard for the employees who put them there or it can be “We are the biggest corporate sponsor and we want to show the city what we have accomplished. Trust me there is not much left after that mentality takes over and the individuals that made them are moving on.

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