I should have known this was coming. Because all the cool kids are doing it.

Want a quick tip on how to tell what’s next in all things online?

Watch what the kids are doing.

Especially when it comes to social media.

Because here’s what happens:

  1. Kids find the latest and greatest social media platform.
  2. After some time, the parents of the kids find the same social media platform.
  3. When the moms and dads join, the kids jump to the next social media platform, like fleas to a new dog.

This process has repeated itself over and over again, since Friendster and MySpace.

Once moms got on MySpace, the kids jumped to Facebook, which was originally built ONLY for kids. Then came Twitter. Then Insta. And now, of course, TikTok.

And lately, the kids have been up to something else which is a precursor of what’s to come to the mainstream audience (and has been accelerated because of the pandemic).

If you watched my livestream with Jordan Fisher, you know what I’m talking about.

In the early part of the video, Jordan schooled me on Twitch – the YouTube-like streaming platform populated mostly by gamers who stream the video games they play (sometimes all day), and kids watch.

But there is something else the kids do.

They pay for the privilege of watching their idols do their stuff.

They subscribe. They give tips. They give gifts.

And the most popular streamers? They make a very good living.  In fact, the top streamer in the world earns an estimated $400k-800k+ . . . PER MONTH. Others earn $100k per month! Yeah, over $1m a year!  From playing video games! (And being unique personalities, of course.)

Ok, ok, those are the top streamers, but even the “average pro” on Twitch earns $5000 per month . . . just by doing what they love to do. (And remember – all that money is coming from subscribers whose average age is 21!)

If you go back and watch Jordan tell me all about this world, you can literally see my eyes widen because, in this one livestream, I saw tomorrow. And it’s because of what the kids are doing today.

The takeaway?

People are willing to pay for streamed content.

And not just filmed productions like Hamilton or my Daddy Long Legs.

And yes, if kids are doing it, then it’s going to tip into a massive new market for all sorts of artists and content creators.  (I’m already hearing some amazing success stories of musicians and TheaterMakers experimenting with paid streams – and having surprising success.)

And while yes, to make a lot of money artists are going to need to have a following. But Chris Anderson’s Long Tail theory will apply . . . meaning that any artist of any kind WILL be able to find an audience . . . the size of that audience will just vary.

Once again, the kids are showing us the way. And it’s coming at the perfect time, because our TheaterMakers need another way to earn a living until the live stage comes roaring back.

This transition from the free to paid model is not going to happen overnight, but the quicker we start introducing paid streaming opportunities, the quicker we train our audiences that art online (even if that’s a unique personality playing a video game) ain’t free.

Don’t believe me that we can make the transition?

Remember when people only listened to music for free from Napster and Limewire?  And then came iTunes?  And you think Spotify, Pandora or AmazonMusic exist because of the free versions? People pay for it.  Who probably thought they would never pay for music . . . ever.

So yes, paid streaming of all different shapes and sizes is coming.

And if you’re a TheaterMaker you’re at a very unique time in history . . . because there’s an opportunity to be seized.  Like being offered to buy stock in Amazon in 1998. (I was – I passed – never a-effin’-gain.)

So what can you do to get in on this?

Well first, if you’re a TheaterGoer and you see a TheaterMaker doing something with a price tag attached (and it’ll be much less than a live ticket – because they have to be), considering paying.  You’ll be helping a TheaterMaker.  And TheaterMakers?  Help your peers.  Attend their shows.  Support and you’ll be supported.

But if you want more specifics, then here are my three giant takeaways for TheaterMakers that you MUST do to get on the ground floor of the paid streaming revolution that is coming.

  1.  Build a following. You need your own tribe, your own fans, your own community to have a successful career in streaming your art. (That tribe can be any size, but you need to know where they are and be able to communicate with them daily – and yes, social media is great, but nothing beats email.
  2. Stream something. Anything. Start experimenting. Plays. Concerts. One person shows. Try to make it a unique experience for the streaming market so it feels created for it.
  3. Repeat.  Keep doing different things until you find what works for YOU. And after a while you will find something that supports your live stage work. Wouldn’t that be nice?

As you can tell, I’m bullish about this. And you’re going to see me experimenting with a lot of different streaming stuff over the next six months. Some will work. Much of it won’t. But I will learn. Because I need to. We all do.

And if you want to learn more about how to stream successfully, whether that’s a Zoom reading, a filmed production or more, check out this resource we pulled together.  It’ll answer all your questions and get you started fast.

Click here.

UPDATED 9/10/20 @ 6:52 PM!

Breaking news . . . the Pulitzer Prize committee just announced that virtual shows will be eligible for the Pulitzer!!!  I mean, I told you I was on to something.  🙂  Yet  another reason to learn how to stream your show.  It has arrived.

Click here to learn how to stream your show now.

 

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Comments
  • Michelle Blanchard says:

    Hey Ken! This is a great piece – may I also suggest that you start to take a look at what the community and smaller regional theaters are doing? A lot of them have been experimenting with streaming and paid streams in the last few months and there are even a couple that are doing paid streamed full live productions. The rights companies have jumped on this in a big way. The one thing I would say is that when it comes to theater shows, some of the rights companies are requiring you to charge the same for a “streaming ticket” that you do for a live audience ticket. Not all – but some. Thanks as always for your insights!

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Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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