The three rules of doing research.

I’ve always been a big believer in focus groups and research.  We’re one of the few industries that spends millions of dollars developing a product, but won’t spend a few thousand testing that product, or even determining how challenging it may be to sell that product.

That’s why I always put my shows through quantitative and qualitative testing at some point in their life cycle.

I recently did some testing on Once on this Island and was reminded of the three rules of doing research by my expert analyst, who made me sign off on them before he signed up to test my show.

  1. Never do research unless you’re prepared to do something with the results (or never ask a question you don’t want an answer to). Research is a waste of time unless you’re ready to listen and act upon those responses. I plan my research to coincide with a pivot point, either before a new ad campaign, or a new creative developmental period, so I have the resources ($ or time) to put behind the answers I get in order to achieve the maximum results.
  2. The answers are as important as the people giving them. When acting upon said research, it’s essential your answers are coming from the right audience.  This is why major changes to your campaign or your show should be based on research results from the precise audience you’re trying to target.  Ask the wrong audience and they’ll send you down the wrong rabbit hole.  This is why research can be expensive, and why one of the most important questions you should ask when hiring a research company is, “Where do you get the people taking the surveys?”
  3. Let the research guide your gut, but don’t let it be your gut. As much of a fan of research I am, and while I do believe it can give you a competitive advantage in our very risky industry, I never take action based on its results that I don’t believe in.  Theatre is an art.  And Producers and Writers are entrepreneurs.  The most successful entrepreneurs in any industry create products that the audience doesn’t know they need yet or buy products that surprise and delight them in their marketing.  So use research to help you focus and become more efficient in your strategies, but don’t let it rule them.  Data is a tool.  It’s not the craftsman.

For sample surveys we use on our shows that you can use on yours (including readings and more) check out TheProducersPerspectivePRO today.


Broadway Grosses w/e 8/12/2018: Let’s Hear It For The Boys

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending August 12, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
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The ONE Thing We Can All Do To Develop Future Audiences.

Building the audience of the future is not only a passion of mine, it’s a necessity.

I plan on producing shows for the rest of my days (and somehow I’m going to figure out a way that my daughter has to at least dabble in daddy’s biz after I’ve gone off to The Great White Way in the Sky).  And without an audience . . . without customers . . . there’s no way this business that I love so much (and also depend on) survives.

But we don’t want it to just survive for the next 1,000 years, we want it to thrive.  Right?

So, we gotta think long term.

Recently I was asked a super specific question by a reporter that never got into print . . .  partly because I blabbed on way too long about it – but hey, that’s why I have a blog, right – so I can blog-blab as many characters as I want!

The question was . . . “If there was one thing, only one thing, that you could do to help develop the future audience, what would it be?”

Before I answer . . . take a moment and you think about your answer to the same question.

What would you do?

TV ads like this one?  Put a megawatt star in a Broadway show?  Beg Lin Manuel Miranda to write Hamilton II (I know, I know, he died at the end, but if anyone could figure out how to make it work, it would be Lin).

All of these are good marketing initiatives, but if we’re looking to develop the next generation of audiences and beyond, what I would do is plant a little bit of a longer-gestating seed.

If I could only do one thing, I would do this . . .

Encourage participation in the theater.

I’d focus on getting more kids to perform in their school plays . . . elementary kids, middle schools, and of course, more high school musicals.

I’d work with community theaters to expand their outreach and involve more citizens from their cities and towns.

I’d develop plans with regional theaters to include children’s theater companies that use local actors.

And I’d build a better bridge between Broadway and every single theater around the world.

Because we depend on them more than we know.

Think about it . . . where did you discover your love of the theater?

My guess is it’s one of two ways . . . your parents brought you to see a show when you were a kid . . . or more likely, somewhere you participated in the theater somehow.

When people participate in any activity, they become more passionate about it, especially something with as much community as the theater.

And when you get that kind of positive hands-on engagement at an early age, the participators will be 100x more likely to attend/support/invest in the theater at a later age.

You know what industry does this well?  My only other non-familial passion . . . the golf industry.  Watch the golf channel sometime.  Half of the ads are about how to improve your own golf game.  Or to try and get you out to play.

Because “play”-ing makes you more passionate.

If I had a general Broadway ad budget, I’d place PSAs not about buying Broadway tickets (because there are millions and millions of theater fans who aren’t near Broadway right now) but encouraging them to get out and join their local community theater . . . to take an acting class at a community college . . . to take their kid to a dance class.

The future development of the Broadway audience, as well as artists and investors, is in the encouragement of kids and people of all ages to participate in the theater however they can.

I know I can’t wait to walk my little girl on a stage for the first time.



Broadway Grosses w/e 8/05/2018: Rain or Shine

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending August 5, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
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Will THIS Create a Pricing War on Broadway?

Big changes are afoot at one of the biggest ticket sellers on Broadway.

Starting yesterday, it was announced that the TKTS outlet at Lincoln Center no longer lists shows at 50% off, or 40% off, or any percent off.

Instead, the digital display will list the actual price of each show’s ticket . . . $199, $75, $60, etc.

Provided this test goes well, expect to see it put into effect at the primary TKTS location in the middle of Times Square, where it will have a massive impact on how tickets will be sold.

Here are just three things listing prices instead of percentages will do:

  • Speed up the purchase decision. No longer will customers have to ask for a price (or do the math) when they walk up to a window.
  • Give lower priced shows (hello Off-Broadway) a way to stand out against their high-priced competitors instead of appearing like they are the same price (two shows at 50% off sounds like the same price even though one may be half as much).
  • Eliminate the idea that the tickets are being sold at a discount. If it’s a price, it’s just a price, not a % off.  And we continue our slow but steady transition to the pricing strategies used by the airline industry, which has different prices for every day and every flight, instead of discounting every day and every flight.

I’m a super fan of this idea and applaud TDF for taking the first step in what I’m sure is quite a difficult transition.

But expect us Producers to start examining everyone else’s prices much more closely before we send tickets to “the booth.”

Because if a consumer has two shows he wants to see and can’t decide between them . . . and one of them is even $2 less per ticket?  Guess which show wins.


The exact price at the TKTS booth isn’t something that the Broadway Producer contemplates much right now.  Because the consumer isn’t comparing.

But provided the Lincoln Center test goes well (and I’m betting the price of a couple of premium tickets that it will), we’ll all have to start doing it in the future.

It’ll be a challenge, but it’s better for our consumer and for our industry, so I’m game.

You agree?