How to get yourself out there and Promote Urself (even if you don’t want to) and why you must.

If you follow the blog, then you know that last year I set a pretty ambitious of a goal, to help get 5000 shows produced by the year 2025 (#5000By2025).

Things are going along swimmingly with some amazing success stories so far.   But the more Theater Makers I talk to along our journey, the more I realize some of the things holding them back.

And that’s when we kick into high gear to try and come up with a solution to help them break through to the other side.

One trend that I’ve noticed is this fear of promoting oneself or just the lack of knowledge of how to do it.  And who can blame anyone for getting lost in the sea of social media, hashtags, websites, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc., etc . . . and there’s probably a new platform called etc.!

And how the heck do you even find the time to do it all?

But here’s the one thing I know for a fact . . . if you’re not promoting yourself . . . no one will.

And, if you’re not promoting yourself, someone else is certainly promoting themselves, and they will, without a doubt, have an advantage over you in this business.

Period.

How do I know this?

Oh, because I’ve been known to google an actor’s name during an audition to check on the number of social media followers they have (and this is a super common practice in Hollywood).  I’ve come to like the work of a designer through an Instagram account.  YouTube videos from songwriters have gotten me to reach out and find out what show the writers were working on next.

Years ago, before all this stuff existed, everyone was on the same playing field.  Everyone had the same basic marketing tools in their toolbox.  A resume.  A phone.  The mail.  And their work.

Now, that toolbox is ever-expanding, and when you know how to work all those tools, you can get to your goals so much faster.

But you have to do three things . . .

  1.  Acknowledge that marketing is essential.
  2.  Admit what you know and what you don’t.
  3.  Take action today to improve.

Since we’ve got a lot of shows to help get on in the next six years, we decided to put together a conference on exactly this subject.  Introducing PromoteU:  The Marketing and Productivity Conference for Theatre-Makers.

On Friday, May 17th, join me and some superstar speakers including Broadway Star Sierra Boggess, YouTube sensation Tyler Mount, Branding Guru Tony Howell, and more to be announced when we spend a day breaking down how you can get yourself out there, get more gigs, and enjoy it in the process.

We’re going to have sessions all about:

  • Finding Your Brand: Creating Your Branding Toolkit
  • How to Use Social Media to Gain Loyal Fans
  • Creating a Website that Tells (and Sells) Your Story
  • Lightning Round Deep-Dives on Specific Social Media Platforms
  • Productivity and Accountability Tools for Artists
  • And Much More.

And, the conference will also include:

  • Expert Keynotes and Presentations from Marketing, Branding and Creative Experts
  • Valuable Networking Opportunities in Our Private Facebook Group AND at Our 2-Hour Networking Open-Bar Party
  • 3 Months of Follow-Up Accountability Training from Our Team of Experts

You’ll leave armed with a specific plan of attack and all the tools necessary to build your own marketing campaign for whatever kind of Theatre Maker you are . . . Writer, Director, Actor, Producer, and more.

And we’re even adding in three months of accountability check-ins after the conference to make sure you stay productive and focused.

You can learn more about it and register here.  Just do so quickly, as we’re in a theater half the size of our Super Conference, so the seats won’t last.

I hope you’ll come.  Because I know what we’re going to share with you is going to work.  Because marketing always works.

And everything and everyone requires marketing to get ahead in 2019.  And the unfortunate truth is, if you’re not marketing your brand, then you’re not just standing still . . . you’re falling behind.  Sorry to have to say it like that.

But this conference will help.  In fact, here’s a promise for you . . . if you’re not in a better position with your career after the conference and the built-in coaching, just drop me a note, and I’ll refund you the price of your conference ticket.  Simple.

Register here.  And prepare to be a productive promoting machine . . . without even looking like you’re promoting anything.

See you at PromoteU on May 17th!

 

What Marie Kondo can teach you about rewriting your script.

If you don’t know who Marie Kondo is, then you’re probably living under a very untidy rock.

Marie Kondo is the author of the bestselling The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and the star of the new Netflix series “Tidying Up” which has become the hot water-cooler conversation of late.

Ms. Kondo is an organizational guru who changes lives by changing how you keep your home clean.

So, my Type A peeps out there?  You’re going to love her.  And the non-Type A’s?  She’s just what your cluttered closet ordered.

Her basic principle of “tidying” is pretty simple.  Instead of looking at what is in your closet and saying, “What should I throw away,” she turns the question around to ask a positive one . . . “What should I keep?”  And her rule about what stays around is . . .

Only hold on to items that “spark joy.”

So vivid, right?

A sweater that sparks joy stays.  If you don’t feel joyous when you put on those jeans, out they go.  Same with trinkets or books . . .  or even people.  🙂

This got me to thinking about how to apply it to the development of shows and more specifically, how Authors should deal with the notes they get on a script.

If you’re a writer then you know . . . everyone has an idea on how to rewrite your script, right?  And every time you do a reading or send it around, you probably get so many notes, you don’t know where to start . . . and end up not starting at all.

Feedback can be overwhelming, which is why I suggest following the Marie Kondo approach.

See, too many writers I know (especially new ones) take ALL the notes they are given by all the various people who give them . . . and the next draft ends up looking like some kind of collage of a show with no singular vision.

Writers need to know how to filter the feedback they receive, so the show gets better and remains the same show the writer wants to write.

How do you filter?

You Kondo your feedback.

Writers should only take notes that “spark joy.”

When you get a note, you should think about it, roll it around, debate it if you must, and wait for it to give you a burning desire to get back to the keyboard to make the change.

If it doesn’t even get you excited about doing the rewrite?  Forget the note altogether.  Because even if you take it, you won’t write it well, so why bother?

To be a successful rewriter, you must be enthusiastic about the process if you’re going to improve your script.

But you should never sacrifice the story that you want to tell just because someone else has ideas on how they would write it.

They are not you.  The script is not theirs.  It’s yours.

So write the show you want to write, and let Marie Kondo make it even tidier.

– – – – –

Want to learn how to self-diagnose your own script so you don’t have to hear from anyone else? 🙂  Download our “How To Self Diagnosis Your Script” execution plan today and get your script better by tonight! Click here.

 

GUEST BLOG: So, What Does a General Manager Do, Anyway?: Part Two by Peter Bogyo

More than any other function, a GM’s primary responsibility is that of financial overview – the quantification, management, and forecasting of the show’s finances. During the production period, this involves keeping track of estimated budget expenses as they become actualized, and determining the net effect of all those variances on the budget’s reserve fund, which needs to be available not only by the first preview but also as of Opening Night. A cash flow chart is most useful for tracking these expenses.

At some point several weeks prior to the first preview, I will also begin reviewing the breakdown of advance sales, on a week by week, performance by performance, basis. By analyzing this, one can quickly see if a show is likely to break even in a given week, or which future performances may need some help – either thru additional paid advertising, marketing promotions, increased publicity, sending tickets to the same day, half-price ticket booth, or, last resort, by discreetly offering complimentary seats to carefully targeted audiences.

A helpful tool for predicting future weekly grosses is a ten week out gross projection chart. Essentially, the data from weeks that have already played out and their advance sales (broken down on a week-by-week basis leading up to the final week itself (six weeks out, five weeks out, etc.)) are used to forecast how a future week will perform.

Another statistic that is looked at constantly and minutely dissected is the daily wrap, a figure representing the total amount of ticket sales sold on a given day from all sales sources (box office window, telephones, internet, remote outlets). A wrap is broken down into all the possible types and prices of tickets that comprise it – full price, premium seats, group sales, coded discounts, etc. It shows you how well (or not!) different types of tickets are selling.

Budgets, cash flows, weekly advance breakdowns, gross projections, daily wraps – these are just some of the myriad financial reports that producers look to the general manager to provide them with. Providing all this information and analysis is the major part of the GM’s job. If a GM’s first duty is telling a producer how much a show will cost, one of his last duties is recommending that the show should close. This is not a pleasant task, but more than anyone else, the GM must be grounded in reality when reserve funds are dwindling and losses are looming. I like to joke that the main arc of a general manager’s job can be summed up with “This is what it’s going to cost; now it’s time to close.”

A play goes thru different stages in its life. Up till now, I have only discussed the earliest phases. But there are also important concerns a GM grapples with related to maintaining a healthy show, grappling with a declining show, closing a show, and tending to the ongoing affairs of a show in its life after Broadway. I discuss these at great length in my book, but unfortunately don’t have the space here to go into detail.

A GM has a symbolic, as well as a practical role – he or she serves as a kind of figurehead or leader, representing both the producer as well as the production on many different levels. A GM sets the tone of the working environment that is the show experience, both personally in his own office, and, by proxy, through the demeanor of the company manager who is the producer and GM’s daily representative at the theater

Finally, a GM performs a very important psychological role – his or her relationship to the producer is an intense one, full of confidences and trust. At various times, a GM serves as an advisor, a confidante, a therapist, a father confessor, a support, a protector, a cohort, a fixer and a bad cop to the producer’s good cop. The two parties typically speak on the phone and/or email each other many, many times a day, every day. Most producers feel they need access to their GM whenever anything important or urgent occurs, no matter how early or late the hour, or whether it is a weekend or a national holiday. As previously stated, one is on call 24/7.

General managing a production in the commercial theater entails grappling with an enormous number of complex, exciting, and challenging details. Not to mention some pretty colorful individuals! All these concerns and personalities need to be managed by an experienced, discerning professional. I hope, by now, you have been demystified as to what a general manager does, and can appreciate just how invaluable he or she can be for guiding and protecting both a producer and the multi-million dollar venture that is a Broadway show today.

For further information on me or my book, please visit www.broadwaygeneralmanager.com

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

PETER BOGYO is a theatrical General Manager, Executive Producer, Producer of Special Events, and an Author.

On Broadway, he served as General Manager of LOVE LETTERS, starring Mia Farrow, Brian Dennehy, Carol Burnett, Alan Alda and Candice Bergen; THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL, starring Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr.; STICK FLY,  starring Dulé Hill, directed by Kenny Leon, TIME STANDS STILL, starring Laura Linney, directed by Daniel Sullivan, AMERICAN BUFFALO, starring John Leguizamo, directed by Robert Falls, A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN, starring Kevin Spacey and Eve Best, directed by Howard Davies, THE BLONDE IN THE THUNDERBIRD, starring Suzanne Somers; SLY FOX, starring Richard Dreyfuss, directed by Arthur Penn; FORTUNE’S FOOL, starring Alan Bates and Frank Langella, directed by Arthur Penn, and VOICES IN THE DARK, starring Judith Ivey, directed by Christopher Ashley.

Off-Broadway, his general manager credits include A MOTHER, A DAUGHTER, AND A GUN with Olympia Dukakis; Elaine May’s ADULT ENTERTAINMENT, directed by Stanley Donen; Jerry Herman’s musical revue SHOWTUNE; MR. GOLDWYN, starring Alan King, directed by Gene Saks; MADAME MELVILLE starring Macaulay Culkin and Joely Richardson; and THE UNEXPECTED MAN, starring Alan Bates and Eileen Atkins, directed by Matthew Warchus.

He has served as Executive Producer for the sold-out Carnegie Hall concert PIAF! THE SHOW, and for FIGARO 90210 at the Duke Theater on 42nd Street.

Peter is also a leading producer of benefit concerts and has raised close to a million dollars in the fight against AIDS.  For GMHC he produced the celebrated concert versions of Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents’ ANYONE CAN WHISTLE and Cole Porter and Moss Hart’s JUBILEE, both at Carnegie Hall, and SHOWSTOPPERS!: a Salute to the Best of Broadway, at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center.  He also produced FIRST LADIES OF SONG at Alice Tully Hall for the Eleanor Roosevelt Monument Fund, which featured Rosemary Clooney, Marilyn Horne, Judy Collins, Barbara Cook, Lena Horne, Joanne Woodward, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

He has unveiled three monuments for the City of New York, honoring Eleanor Roosevelt, Duke Ellington, and Antonin Dvorak, produced a memorial tribute to Herbert Ross, and oversaw the international entertainment for philanthropist George Soros’s 75th birthday party.

Peter is a member of The Broadway League and ATPAM, a Tony Award voter, and a graduate of Yale College and of the Commercial Theater Institute.  His book, “Broadway General Manager: Demystifying the Most Important and Least Understood Role in Show Business” is published by Allworth Press, and received critical acclaim.

Peter lives in Manhattan and upstate New York with his wife Ahna and their Scottish terrier Dickens.  www.peterbogyo.com

GUEST BLOG: So, What Does a General Manager Do, Anyway?: Part One by Peter Bogyo

As a general manager of Broadway and Off Broadway shows for over 15 years, I have continually been dismayed by my close friends’ inability to remember what I do (“he’s a stage manager”; NOT) or what it entails. How could they? My job title is completely opaque. What is that mysterious thing that I manage, generally? Finally, out of frustration and self-defense, I wrote a book and cleverly called it ‘Broadway General Manager”, to clue them in.  Then, in sympathy for their confusion, I subtitled it “Demystifying the Most Important and Least Understood Role in Show Business” to give them hope.

So, what the heck does a GM, as they are commonly referred to, do? I’ve been told I have approximately 750 words to explain this to you, and my book is 240 pages long, so please understand I’ll be talking in broad strokes. Very broad strokes.

In a nutshell, a general manager oversees all the financial and business concerns of a show. Even more, they are the lynchpin of the entire production, through which every aspect of the show must pass. Part of what makes the job so exciting is that the GM interacts with people at every level of the production and is expected to be available to the show’s producer 24/7.

Traditionally, the first thing a producer wants a GM to do is prepare two different sets of budgets — a Production Budget, which tells the producer how much money he or she needs to raise to mount the show and get it to the first paid public performance, and an Operating Budget, which details the costs to run the show on a weekly basis and provides various scenarios for recouping (earning back) the show’s production costs.

I go into great detail in my book analyzing actual Production and Operating budgets line by line, but I can’t do that here today. All you really need to know is that a Production budget tells the producer how much money he needs to raise to get the show to its first paid public performance, at which point one needs an Operating budget to know how much it will cost to operate the show on a weekly basis.

After calculating these two sets of budgets, my next major responsibility is normally negotiating all the contracts for the cast, crew, creatives and staff involved in the production.

A negotiation is a kind of dance, with each party maneuvering and strategizing to win as much as possible for his side. The best negotiation is one in which, at the end, both parties feel they have won several important points, but have not gotten everything they had hoped for. It’s important to remember that an agent has to try to win something for his client in order to justify his existence (not to mention his 10% commission!)

In resolving differences, I always strive to protect the show at breakeven, or close thereto, for as long as possible. A show can run forever as long as it can cover its expenses and not show a loss.

In my book, I have separate chapters containing actual contracts I have negotiated for “star” Broadway personnel– for a famous actor, a top director, an award-winning designer and a general manager. Again, I don’t have the space to go into that detail here, but you can find it in my book.

Beyond negotiating contracts, a GM is involved with helping to establish the production entity, providing critical information for the programming of the show’s box office, obtaining a payroll account for the company, and making sure the appropriate insurance policies get bound.  But their most vital, ongoing function has yet to be discussed – so be sure to tune in to next week’s blog for Part 2!

For more information about Peter or his book, visit broadwaygeneralmanager.com.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

PETER BOGYO is a theatrical General Manager, Executive Producer, Producer of Special Events, and an Author.

On Broadway, he served as General Manager of LOVE LETTERS, starring Mia Farrow, Brian Dennehy, Carol Burnett, Alan Alda and Candice Bergen; THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL, starring Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr.; STICK FLY,  starring Dulé Hill, directed by Kenny Leon, TIME STANDS STILL, starring Laura Linney, directed by Daniel Sullivan, AMERICAN BUFFALO, starring John Leguizamo, directed by Robert Falls, A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN, starring Kevin Spacey and Eve Best, directed by Howard Davies, THE BLONDE IN THE THUNDERBIRD, starring Suzanne Somers; SLY FOX, starring Richard Dreyfuss, directed by Arthur Penn; FORTUNE’S FOOL, starring Alan Bates and Frank Langella, directed by Arthur Penn, and VOICES IN THE DARK, starring Judith Ivey, directed by Christopher Ashley.

Off-Broadway, his general manager credits include A MOTHER, A DAUGHTER, AND A GUN with Olympia Dukakis; Elaine May’s ADULT ENTERTAINMENT, directed by Stanley Donen; Jerry Herman’s musical revue SHOWTUNE; MR. GOLDWYN, starring Alan King, directed by Gene Saks; MADAME MELVILLE starring Macaulay Culkin and Joely Richardson; and THE UNEXPECTED MAN, starring Alan Bates and Eileen Atkins, directed by Matthew Warchus.

He has served as Executive Producer for the sold-out Carnegie Hall concert PIAF! THE SHOW, and for FIGARO 90210 at the Duke Theater on 42nd Street.

Peter is also a leading producer of benefit concerts and has raised close to a million dollars in the fight against AIDS.  For GMHC he produced the celebrated concert versions of Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents’ ANYONE CAN WHISTLE and Cole Porter and Moss Hart’s JUBILEE, both at Carnegie Hall, and SHOWSTOPPERS!: a Salute to the Best of Broadway, at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center.  He also produced FIRST LADIES OF SONG at Alice Tully Hall for the Eleanor Roosevelt Monument Fund, which featured Rosemary Clooney, Marilyn Horne, Judy Collins, Barbara Cook, Lena Horne, Joanne Woodward, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

He has unveiled three monuments for the City of New York, honoring Eleanor Roosevelt, Duke Ellington, and Antonin Dvorak, produced a memorial tribute to Herbert Ross, and oversaw the international entertainment for philanthropist George Soros’s 75th birthday party.

Peter is a member of The Broadway League and ATPAM, a Tony Award voter, and a graduate of Yale College and of the Commercial Theater Institute.  His book, “Broadway General Manager: Demystifying the Most Important and Least Understood Role in Show Business” is published by Allworth Press, and received critical acclaim.

Peter lives in Manhattan and upstate New York with his wife Ahna and their Scottish terrier Dickens.  www.peterbogyo.com

GUEST BLOG: Three Tips to Improve Your Music Notation by Peter Flom

In creating music notation for the stage, our goal is to empower successful performances. Sometimes our unintentional bad habits throw up barriers to this success. Today we’ll identify some of these habits as well as quick ways to correct them.

 

Beaming, Rests and the Invisible Barline

Beaming and rest choices are often ignored by the lazy copyist, but a little extra effort here will lead to better performances.

The meter of a measure must always inform the notation. Every time signature implies a grouping of beats, which determine beaming and rest choices. Take the following excerpt as an example. Which is clearer?

Most working musicians could play the first example correctly after some practice time, but ideally we’d like these charts to be sight-read, as is typical on the gig. By contrast, the second example clearly defines the halfway point in the measure, which is a great aid to readers. This is a concept known as the “Invisible Barline,” and is vital to writing in an even meter.

Additionally, notice how the beaming has been changed to outline each beat in the measure. This practice makes it easier to subdivide rhythms while reading the piece. Proper beaming technique is especially important in complex meters:

The engraver’s rests must also support the performer by outlining the meter. I find each of the following measures to be very difficult to read: Here is the same example with appropriate rests and beaming:

Note that each syncopation is split into multiple rests. Again, this helps the performer subdivide rhythms more easily. When mixed rests are needed, always choose rests which outline the beat appropriately.

 

Writing Chords

Another challenge for many writers is using chord notation. While this is a large topic, here are some basic guidelines to remember when building parts for the rhythm section.

First and foremost, develop a system that works for your performers. If your musicians prefer to see a ø7 chord suffix instead of min7 b5, then you need to swallow your pride and write the chord they want – even if you believe it’s wrong. Never sacrifice a good performance in the name of being “right.”

Just make sure to stay consistent – don’t write “C-7” in one measure, “Cm7” in the next and “Cmin7” later.

 

Comping Notation

Suffixes aren’t the only important part of writing chords; you must also pay attention to notation in the staff. While the lazy copyist may not see the value in writing notation during a comping part, the performers often need it badly, and each member of the rhythm section expects different conventions.

When in doubt, keep the notation simple. Here are some of my rules of thumb for writing rhythm section parts.

  • If you know exactly what notes you want them to play: write the notes in the staff. (This should be rare.)

  • If you only have a few specific notes: write the rhythms in the staff and only the specific notes you want. (This is common for guitar players, who often remember voicings based on the top note of the chord.)

  • If you don’t care what voicing they use but you have a specific rhythm: write rhythmic slash notation. (Common in a score with ‘hits’ that the band plays together.)

  • If you want them to improvise a comping part: Use slash notation. (This is the most common and easiest way to notate chords, but your performer may not know exactly what to play.)

Being a guitarist, I wrote all of these examples for a guitar part. However, the same rules apply to other instruments. Typically, the bass part is written with a sample bassline and chord symbols – that way, the bass player has an idea of what groove to play, but they can freely ad lib fills when appropriate.

You can find part two of this post – where we look at placing notation on the page – as well as my other tips to improve music notation, on the Finale blog.
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Peter Flom is the production manager in the repertoire development department at MakeMusic. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Peter has previously worked at KMA Studios in New York City, and in MakeMusic’s Customer Success department. He now spends most of his days developing new content for Finale and SmartMusic, and has worked with many publishers along the way. He also is a freelance arranger and engraver, and plays a mean guitar when no one’s watching.

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