Could Bonuses Work on Broadway?

One of the common gripes amongst Producers like me is the high costs of labor on Broadway.  And it’s easy to point the finger at the unions for driving those salaries way up (in my opinion – why things get expensive are not the rates themselves, but the work rules that govern those rates – and the benefits . . . oy, the benefits!).

But no griping here . . . yet.  In fact, I’m going to start this blog from TheUnionsPerspective.

Here’s why the rates are what they are . . .

First, this is the Major Leagues of Theater.  We’ve got the best in the world at what they do in our theaters.  So yeah, when you’ve got the best you gotta pay for the best.

Second, when a show makes money on Broadway, it makes a lot of money.  And unions have to negotiate rates for their members that take the biggest hits into account, so their members don’t feel like they’re gettings @#$% if they’re working on a show that is making $3mm+ per week.

Isn’t that how you’d negotiate too?  I would.

But there is a problem with this perspective.  It doesn’t take into account the majority of the market.  The majority of the shows are NOT making that kind of money.  And the “middle of the market” is paying first class rates, when their income may only be second.

This is the problem with fixed rates across the board.  In some cases, union rates don’t take into account play or musical, revival or new, star or not.

So to use an example . . . if you’re opening a new restaurant that serves casual American food, you might have to pay the same for your kitchen staff as the fanciest of French places in town.

Some might have read this far and say, “That’s Broadway, Ken, you hit it big or you’re out.”  Ok, maybe.  But I think that’s sad, because it means that more original shows by unknown authors with no stars may not get a chance to penetrate the market because they can’t attract enough of an audience fast enough to cover the higher costs.

What to do?

Well, I wondered . . . what if there was a bonus system?  Over 50% of all companies out there in the world pay end of year bonuses . . . why not Broadway?  What if shows that fit a certain classification got a reduced rate on a weekly basis but had a guaranteed bonus built in based on gross (not even on profit!).  This might allow shows to run longer, gain traction and build an audience instead of closing before their time.

A similar model is working in the touring industry, why not here?

Something should be done because I worry that Broadway will become a place of only theme park-like juggernauts someday unless we do more to allow the middle of the market a better chance at being seen.


Broadway Grosses w/e 7/01/2018: The Awkward Tweens.

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending July 1, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

Now, if you’re not a transparent Ticket Seller, you’ll get a big fat ticket!

You’ve “heard” me blog/talk about this idea before.

And it looks like we weren’t the only one thinking about it.

Because that “it” is now a law.

New York State passed a law a few weeks ago that now requires secondary market sellers to disclose that they are, well, secondary market sellers.

Why did Albany get involved?

The problem has been that consumers like my mom (true story) have purchased tickets from Secondary Sellers online without knowing they were Secondary Sellers, and paid them more than they needed to pay.  Moms all over the country have felt ripped off, and what’s worse is that they started to believe that theater tickets were higher than they actually were.

The counter-argument from the reseller is . . . “Hey, if you’re looking for a fridge, and you google around and find a site that has the fridge you want for $500 and buy it, yet another site has it for $400, why is that the fault of the site?  Isn’t that good marketing?”

It’s a decent argument and had there not also been a problem with many sites deliberately trying to confuse customers by buying domains with the name of the theater or the name of the show, or other ‘black hat’ SEO tactics, this probably wouldn’t have been an issue.  But certain sellers (and not all, mind you), got greedy . . . and that’s when the lawmakers stepped in.

So now . . . a Secondary Seller has to be transparent and disclose to their customers that they are not the Primary Seller.

And the only Sellers that should be disappointed with this new law are the ones that were trying to confuse consumers.

Because being transparent and telling customers exactly what you do and why you charge what you charge is not a hindrance . . . it’s actually a benefit.

If I were an SS, I’d just tell people the reasons I charged more.  “We get you the best seats, when you want them, hand-delivered, no fuss, etc., etc.”  There are plenty of people that will pay more for that experience.

Businesses in all industries, not just ours, should embrace exactly what they are.  They should be 101% honest about their place in the marketplace and the service they provide.

Sure, they may lose some customers in the short term, but they’ll retain a lot more in the long.  And successful businesses are not about getting a customer one time, they’re about getting a customer (like my mom) one hundred times.


Broadway Grosses w/e 6/24/2018: June is bustin’ out . . . and almost over!

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending June 24, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

Broadway Grosses w/e 6/17/2018: What happens the week after The Tonys.

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending June 17, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here: