GUEST BLOG by Kait Kerrigan: The Myth of Being Discovered
- Create a YouTube channel and post content every week.
We have been horrible at this actually – mostly because we don’t like performing. We’re trying to be a lot better in 2018. Guess what that means? We’re performing our own work more. If you want to see our YouTube channel or if you want to see the newest experiment we’re doing in serial content, check this out.
- Build up a social media presence. You don’t have to be great at every social media. You don’t have to even do all of the platforms. Choose one that you like and really work at building that one up. Once you understand one, you might find yourself curious about another one. I recently started using Tumblr because I wanted to understand what the hell had happened with the Be More Chill album. Most importantly, find a platform you enjoy enough where you’re willing to spend enough time on it that followers will see a glimmer of yourself. Try to use the 80/20 rule where only 20% of what you post is purely self-promotion.
- Find something you can sell NOW. We sell sheet music and that’s an important part of our livelihood. We make almost no real money on album sales and assume that any album we make is really just a marketing tool. Figure out what you’ll give away for free as “marketing / promotion” and what feels worth money to you. The answer is probably directly connected to what you can charge a premium for. The main reason I recommend this is because it feels good to make money from your work. The secondary reason I suggest this is because it makes you value your work in a different way.
- Treat your collaborators like family and your fans like friends.
Your collaborators are going to be doing you favors left and right. They’re hoping that someday you’ll be able to take them with you. You hope the same thing. They have put faith into you that is akin to the faith your mother has in your talent but it’s even more valuable because they’re putting their resources into you at the most critical juncture. Treat them with more than respect. Treat them with love and honor. Treating your fans like friends might be a little more counter-intuitive. I’ve had several people in the last year – while we had THE MAD ONES running off-Broadway who expressed shock to me that I took the teenage girls who told me about the friend they lost into my arms and talked to them like they were my friends – that I thanked them for being there and told them how much it meant to me. I’ve thought a lot about it because it is the only way I can imagine responding to these people who have poured their hearts out to me – who have honored me with their darkest sadness, who looked into the show I made, and saw something that made them feel kinship and less lonely. Here’s what I’ve come up with: I’m making something and I know that it’s not going to be for everyone. It might not get a great review in the New York Times every time (or any time) but because of these teenage girls who line up to see the show 15 times in a row, I don’t care about that. I am privileged to have something that I built that is bigger than our sometimes limiting New York theater scene. And I have those 1000 fans who will travel from the Philippines just to be at the immersive house party I made, or a girl whose parents have heard her talk about the little off-Broadway show that was only running 6 weeks so much that they got her a plane and show ticket for her birthday present.
- Never lament your luck or lack of connections. Make your own.
There is definitely such a thing as luck. And if you’ve been around the New York theater scene, you know that nepotism is alive and well. Who cares? Everybody envies somebody. Stay in your own lane and make your own thing. Work hard. And someday, maybe you’ll be sitting at a diner sipping a milkshake – or let’s be real, at Sardi’s eating free cheese spread on Ritz, and Daryl Roth will come in and because you’ve created your own brand, because you have the confidence of knowing that your work has had millions of international eyeballs on it, you’ll feel galvanized to go up to her and tell her about the international property you have on your hands. Chances are she still won’t have seen it. But her assistant will have, which brings me to my final piece of advice.
- Always be nice to assistants.
If you’re taking this gonzo route, they are your best allies. One day they will rise up and become your great hope for ever making a legitimate paycheck.
Kait Kerrigan is a playwright, lyricist, and bookwriter. Off-Broadway: THE MAD ONES, HENRY AND MUDGE, and upcoming ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER AND FRIENDS. Other musicals with Brian Lowdermilk include: THE BAD YEARS, REPUBLIC, UNBOUND, and two top-charting albums OUR FIRST MISTAKE and KERRIGAN-LOWDERMILK LIVE. Plays include DISASTER RELIEF, IMAGINARY LOVE, and TRANSIT. Work has been developed at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris, Aurora Theatre, Theatreworks/Silicone Valley, Chautauqua Theatre Company, Lark, Primary Stages, La Jolla, and others. Awards: Kleban, Larson, Theatre Hall of Fame Most Promising Lyricist. Alumna of Dramatists Guild Fellow, Page 73’s I-73 writer‘s group, Barnard College, BMI Musical Theatre Writing Workshop. Co-founder with Lowdermilk of the start-up NewMusicalTheatre.com. www.ker