Dreaming About The Future Of Streaming (thanks to Hamilton).

Oh, if all of my shows could be like Hamilton.

Sure, sure, I’d like the Pulitzer and the Tonys and the billion bucks.

But what I’m talking about now is the giant treasure they had tucked in a vault . . . that they pulled out in the midst of this pandemic.

Yep, I’m talking about the movie they released on Disney+ last week that increased downloads of the D+ app by 74%!

And what I’m dreaming about and proposing for Broadway’s future is that every single play and musical on Broadway films performances of their original cast in the week after opening (just like we record a cast album at about the same time).

And we tuck that sucker away in a vault.

Sounds easy, and I bet you’re nodding your head right now in agreement.

But it’s not that easy.

It’s expensive.

See, Hamilton could afford it. Not only did they have cash to burn, but they also knew there would be a market for their product in the future. (Little did they know what role the movie would play in keeping their brand and Broadway’s brand alive.)

Most plays and musicals do NOT have cash to burn when they open. In fact, most new shows are losing money when they open and therefore can’t afford to invest in a risky insurance policy like spending millions on a shoot.

Never mind that the shoot would have had to be planned months before. (We could try to build this cost into the capitalization, but that might increase the budget by 10-20%, and it’s not like raising previous budgets were a piece of cake.)

So what to do?

In order to capture all of the new shows for posterity and for future revenue opportunities for everyone, including the actors, musicians, and stagehands, we must lower the costs of the capture themselves.

I mean, I’m kicking myself for not having ALL of my shows in a vault right now. I could roll them out and everyone involved would get a check.

But it was too pricey to record Spring Awakening, Once on This Island, Gettin’ the Band Back Together, etc. (And I know that for a fact because I budgeted them all.)

We must reinvent this model in how the labor is paid for video capture (especially since a capture doesn’t require any additional work on behalf of the labor) and then give the labor MORE if/when the capture is distributed.

Think about it this way . . .

It costs a few hundred thousand dollars to record a cast album. And the cast/musicians have to spend a day in a studio, on their day off, recording it. It’s a lot of work. (And most cast albums aren’t making any money, btw).

It can cost 10x as much to capture a show on video. And the labor is paid more than they get for a cast album. . . even though no additional work is required.  For video shoots, the show could be recorded during a regularly scheduled performance (or several).  (If any additional work was required for the shoot – additional rehearsals, etc, then the labor should be paid).

If we lower the cost of capture (please note that I’m saying lower, not eliminate), then every show could put their product in a vault. And then, if the show is a hit and Disney+ or Netflix comes around, then EVERYONE gets paid.

Or give the Producer the option . . . pay the Hamilton model, or pay the bonus-back-end model.

We’re going to need a lot of new models post-pandemic. This is one that could provide an all-important revenue stream for everyone in the future.

Call it COVID-insurance.

And I just kicked myself again for not having it.

– – – –

Want to hear more about streaming from people who know more about it than me?  Sign up now for our 3 part video series about the 3 subjects most on your mind, including streaming . . . featuring the heads of BroadwayWorld and BroadayOnDemand.  See here.

Know what tonight is?

It’s the Altar Boyz reunion!

It has been 15 (!) years since my first musical opened Off Broadway, and tonight we’re reuniting the original cast and creative team on my Facebook live at 8 PM Eastern!

Tune in and you’ll see:

Scott Porter, Matthew

Tyler Maynard, Mark

Andy Karl, Luke

Ryan Duncan, Juan

David Josefsberg, Abraham

Kevin Kern (“Wonder-study” #1)

Daniel Torres (“Wonder-study” #2)

and

Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker, Composers & Lyricists

Kevin Del Aguila, Bookwriter

Marc Kessler, Co-Conceiver

Robyn Goodman, Producer

Stafford Arima, Director

Christopher Gattelli, Choreographer

Lynne Shankel, Music Director & Co-Orchestrator

and funny lady Susan Blackwell is hosting!

And in addition to some crazy stories from the Boyz, we’re also going to release a BRAND NEW ALTAR BOYZ VIDEO!

Click here to get the reminder and join us! Be sure to tune in on my Facebook, on my Twitter, on Broadway Podcast Network’s Youtube Channel, or on Broadway on Demand.

See you then.

 

When schools reopen, how will school theater programs reopen? Recommendations here.

You’ve probably heard of the International Thespian Association. After all, 2.4 million high school kids have been inducted into the program since 1929 (and I know several of you out there right now are saying, “I was a Thespian!”).

The core activity of the Association is performance festivals around the country, which if you haven’t attended, you should find your way into one. I went to my first last year to see this show performed by high school students, and I was just blown away by the talent, the energy, and the excitement about the theater. It made me realize how bright our art form’s future is.

While you may have heard of the Thespians, you may NOT have heard of its parent org, The Educational Theater Association, which provides educational opportunities for teachers, scholarships for students, and so much more. I had the pleasure of keynoting a conference for them years before and I remember thinking, “I can’t tell who is more excited about the theater . . . the students at their festivals, or these unbelievable educators.”

Thankfully, the EdTA is leading the charge on what happens with school theater programs as schools get back to their business in the fall (fingers crossed) while the world continues to battle COVID-19.

And being the leaders they are, they put together an extensive guide and handbook called, “Recommendations for Reopening School Theater Programs” . . . and they’ve generously allowed me to share it here . . . for free . . . whether you’re a member of the EdTA or not. Because they believe that anything they can do to help encourage more (and safe!) theater just helps make the world a better place.

Whether you’re in theater ed or not, you should read it. It’s one of the most comprehensive guidebooks I’ve seen about theater in a COVID-19 world . . . and we can all learn from it. I know I did. (Oh, and you can bet I’m working on getting them to speak about this at my conference this fall!)

Speak thanks to James Palmarini, Director of Educational Policy, and Julie Cohen Theobald, Executive Director, for their leadership and allowing me to share this doc. And if you want to support the EdTA as a thank you for the guide, you can do that here. I just did.

– – – – –

FROM THE EdTA RE: THE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR REOPENING SCHOOL THEATRE PROGRAMS GUIDE   

The EdTA Recommendations guide is intended to serve as a support resource to help theatre teachers and administrators decide what is safely possible for their school and students—including in-person and virtual performance, curriculum, instruction, and resources. It is not a prescriptive document in which all suggested protocols are expected to be followed by every school in every state. Rather, it focuses on these three fundamental questions:

  1. How can you deliver instruction while adhering to social distancing?
  2. How can you adapt instruction for virtual teaching and learning?
  3. How can the social and emotional support that live theatre experiences provide be transferred to online learning environments?

Access the guide here: Recommendations for Reopening School Theatre Programs.

– – – – –

Interested in hearing more about safety in the theater in a COVID-19 atmosphere? Click here to access an exclusive video conversation about this issue and two more top concerns for theatermakers in today’s climate.

 

[New Podcasts] The Producer’s Perspective: Live from The Pandemic

Recording my podcast has become a wee bit challenging over the last several months. That’s one of the reasons why I pivoted and started my livestream.

And after only three months of going live, we’ve got 60 episodes with some big ol’ Broadway stars. (Tomorrow’s is A-list Director of South Pacific and The King and I, Bart Sher, for example.)

But a few of my podcast listeners have emailed me recently asking about audio content instead of video, since they listen on their commutes (which are starting to come back, thank the lord) or on the treadmill.

So, I’m taking all of my livestreams and converting them to podcast format for a special series called The Producer’s Perspective Podcast LIVE From The Pandemic.

 

Starting today, I’ll release an episode a week, starting with week #1 of the livestream. So if podcasts are your way to consume content, make sure you’re subscribed here.

Or if you want to see my face and my new #coronacut, you can catch the replays of my Livestream on my Facebook page or Youtube page.

 


We did a survey of the three things that are at the top of every TheaterMaker’s mind as we consider theater’s return post-pandemic. Their answers? Safety, Equality, and Streaming.

Because these three issues are SO vital to the theater’s survival, I had The TheaterMakers Studio curate a 3-part video series featuring experts on these subjects. The videos release next week. Click here to get them (they will not be made available to the public).

NEW Altar Boyz Video and Our Reunion: Take II

Ok, boyz and girls. Now we’re really getting the band back together!

Thank you for your patience as we rescheduled our previously announced Altar Boyz reunion – but we’re now set for July 9th at 8 PM!

And because you’ve been so patient, we’ve added some extra surprises.

We recruited self-proclaimed Altarholic and Broadway star-herself, SUSAN BLACKWELL, to host!  You know Susan from the original cast of [title of show], Now Here This, a whole bunch of TV, the incredible podcast The Spark Fileand lots more. (Watch her on our livestream and you’ll see how much fun she is on these things.)

AND . . . we’ve gathered about 40 of our Boyz from all of our different casts . . . New York, National Tours, and more . . . to record a special version of a signature ABz tune. Watch below!

And then make sure you set a reminder to tune in to our livestream on July 9th at 8 PM to see original cast members including:

Scott Porter, Matthew

Tyler Maynard, Mark

Andy Karl, Luke

Ryan Duncan, Juan

David Josefsberg, Abraham

Kevin Kern (“Wonder-study” #1)

Daniel Torres (“Wonder-study” #2)

As well as:

Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker, Composers & Lyricists

Kevin Del Aguila, Bookwriter

Marc Kessler, Co-Conceiver

Robyn Goodman, Producer

Stafford Arima, Director

Christopher Gattelli, Choreographer

Lynne Shankel, Music Director & Co-Orchestrator

 

And you can count on at least one surprise guest, if not more . . . and maybe even another SONG???

So if you’re an Altarholic, tune in on Thursday, July 9th to The Producer’s Perspective LIVE! at 8 PM and hear all about how the show was developed, how we found that cast and much more.  And the Boyz will even take some questions!

Oh, and the more you donate to The Actors Fund, the juicier the stories get.

 

WATCH THE NEW ALTAR BOYZ VIDEO BELOW!

 

 

Click here to get a reminder for the Altar Boyz reunion on Thursday, July 9th at 8pm EDT / 7pm CDT / 6pm MDT / 5pm PDT.

And if you need an Altar fix now, listen to the cast recording: on Spotify, on Amazon, and on Apple Music.

 

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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