My Perspective on the CoronaVirus and Broadway. (UPDATED)

I started writing this blog over a week ago.

But every time I finished it, the situation changed again, and I had to e-crumple up my work, and start all over again.

When I first set out to address COVID-19 and its effect on Broadway, we hadn’t even had a case in the city yet, never mind a travel ban from Europe.  But I knew it was going to have some effect.  Since the virus was so concentrated in the far east, the first draft of the blog predicted that the shows with the biggest audiences from those countries would take the biggest hits at the box office, and those shows would actually be our biggest hits.  That’d be ok, since they had grosses and brands and reserves to handle that kind of loss of an audience.

Then the bug went to Italy.

So I started a new blog.

This time pulled statistics on the last time we had an epidemic like what so many thought we were experiencing . . .  the 2003 SARS crisis.  I wanted to see how that virus impacted Broadway grosses.

And the day before I was going to publish that analysis, we had our first case in New York City.  (By the way, the answer to how SARS affected the grosses back then?  During the dates defined by the CDC as the SARS epidemic, Broadway grosses were flat compared to the same period one year earlier.  Now, maybe they would have risen without SARS, but they didn’t regress.)

Obviously, I threw that blog in the e-recycling bin as well, because it became clear . . . and fast . . . that COVID-19 ain’t no SARS.  Not only were there only 8,000 cases around the world as opposed to our 127,000 and counting, but the news, anxiety and fear spreads faster today than in 2003.  Why?  The internet, like we know it today, barely existed in that era.  There wasn’t an iPhone. There weren’t apps.  And there was no social media.  NONE.

So I started a new blog.  This time, I was worried about the new shows.  New productions all struggle to get their noses in the air (unless there’s some major star headlining), but facing a headwind like this, it would be even harder.

And before I could finish that blog, we got a travel ban, the NBA suspension, and gatherings in some cities restricted to 250 or less.

Broadway is still fighting to stay open, although our Mayor indicated this morning that it’s next on the “stopping” block.  (Could we limit it to 250 people per show, separated by 3-4 seats between each order?  Should we even bother?  Could the risk outweigh the reward?  All great questions and I have no doubt that the Broadway League and the Mayor will do what is best for all of us).

So I started writing again.

I finished this late this AM.  And honestly, I was going to hit pause on the publish button of this blog again . . . but frankly, I wanted to put something out there stating exactly how I feel and give you my perspective.

So what’s my perspective?

Well, first, we will get through this.  Our business and our world may not bounce back right away, but we will wrap our arms around this thing eventually.  It will be a slower return to normalcy (a lot of people are comparing how they feel today to the CNN-binge watching days after 9/11 – and I expect just like that, our business will climb back instead of immediately return to pre-virus levels).

And second?  Well, it’s simple.

Just like everything we might want from our lives or this world, it’s not up to other people, it’s up to each one of us.

So read the below from the CDC and follow it to the letter.  Not sort of follow it.  TOTALLY follow it.

This thing is in all of our individual, freshly-washed hands.

Be safe.

UPDATE AS OF 3/12 – 2:35 PM:  And things have changed yet again.  Due to an order from the Governor and out of an abundance of caution, ALL Broadway shows have been canceled through April 12th effective immediately.

 

Episode 208 – The Accidentally and Incredibly Brave, Maddie Corman

I don’t know that I could have done it.

But, then again, I’m not Maddie Corman.

As you’ll hear in my intro to this podcast, I’ve known about Maddie Corman since I was a teenager.  Chances are, you have too.  After all, she has been in over 25 films, including Some Kind of Wonderful and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. 

But all that could never have prepared her for the real-life drama she was dragged into a few years ago.

She came out the other side of it and, then, she decided to write about it . . . and perform it . . . in a play called Accidentally Brave.

And you know what?  I KNOW I could not have done it.

Maddie and I talked about how she got the courage to do what many in the world would not, as well as . . .

  • How sharing trauma is a powerful tool for storytelling.
  • The process of how she created her one-person show . . . and how you can create one too.
  • How to tell the difference between an actor and someone who just wants to be famous.
  • Just who deserves to be sent an invitation to your first reading.
  • Why you need friends who will give you honest feedback and not just tell you how great your shows is.

 

Enjoy the podcast!

  • Click here to listen on our site!
  • Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)
  • Download it here.

And if you didn’t get the chance to see Maddie in Accidentally Brave Off Broadway, you can read it right here or listen to the Audible Audiobook here.

And this week’s #SongwriterOfTheWeek is Misha Lambert! If you enjoyed the outro song in this episode, go on over to https://mishalambert.com/ or check her out on Instagram & Twitter @mishalambert.

3 Marketing Lessons for Broadway from Super Tuesday.

Is it just me or is Super Tuesday the new Superbowl?  Ok, ok, maybe it’s the Playoffs, and Election Day itself is The Big Game.

But it certainly felt like a-must-see-sporting event Tuesday Night, as my wife and I snuggled on the couch, eating wings, and screaming out at the TV when there was a touchdown or even a “fumble” (Like that awkward moment when Joe Biden mistook his wife for his sister – I’m just glad he didn’t make an Arkansas joke after he did it).

As I hooted and hollered (I think I even did “the wave” at one point – my wife did not), I couldn’t help but notice there were some Broadway marketing lessons to be learned from the results.

Now, these are general takeaways, and are not about political affiliation, viewpoints, or any of that ire-instigating stuff, but they do apply . . . so here goes.

1. Whoever has been around the longest, has an advantage.

If you’re in a cluttered market, like this year’s democratic field, and there isn’t an obvious decision for the consumer/voter to make, they’ll default to the thing that has been around the longest.  Joe Biden won the night.  Why?  Partly because he’s been around the longest! He has run for President 3x now, so voters are used to seeing him in a field like this.  He has been a member of Congress even longer than Bernie.  And, of course, he was a VP.  In marketing-speak, he has the highest “awareness” or market penetration of any of the candidates . . . so it’s not surprising that he’s starting to gallop ahead.

TAKEAWAY:  In a recent study I did on Broadway shows, The Lion King and Phantom of the Opera were the two shows of all the shows on Broadway that had the highest awareness.  Why?  Because they had run the longest, of course.  And it’s no surprise that they are two of the most successful musicals . . . in history!  Long runs help perpetuate an even longer run.  So, get your show to run for a long time. 🙂 Or, the better takeaway is for those of you who want to make a career in the theater.  If you’re a Writer, Producer, Director or other TheaterMaker, keep on sloggin’ away.  Your Awareness will catch up too.  Remember how I said Joe ran from President TWICE before?  Yeah, those didn’t work out quite so well.  But he kept on runnin’.  And we’ll see what happens this time.  (And I’d expect Mayor Pete to be in 1, 2 or 17 more races until he notches a big win too.)

2. Endorsements matter.

My favorite phrase of the night from the CNN Color Commentators was “Joe-mentum.”  Made me spit out a buffalo wing.  But it’s true.  After Joe’s win in South Carolina (which was partly due to the endorsement from Jim Clyburn), he was speedin’ into Super Tuesday with some extra gas in the tank. . . and then he got those late-in-the-day endorsements from Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg . . . and then . . . blast off.  Getting other people to support your mission is an easy way to double or triple your base.

TAKEAWAY:  Get testimonials from your audience members, celebrities or any influencers out there. And don’t just put those quotes on your website, but get those folks to push their message about your show out to their audience.  However you can.  Yes, even if you gotta trade something or even pay ’em!   If you think Jim, Amy or Pete just gave Joe their endorsement without getting something in return (one of them has VP written all over their future), well, you should not be a politician . . . or a businessperson.  Because this is how the world works.  Reciprocity.  Give ’em something to get what you want!

3. Buying advertisements is effective but NEVER as effective as word of mouth.

I used to like Mike Bloomberg.  He did amazing things for NYC.  He runs his governments like a business, yet he goes after the NRA and other social reforms like he’s got a gun.  But, Mike proved that money can’t buy you everything. And, by the way, this isn’t the first time voters have rejected a politician trying to make up for their lack of awareness or poor word of mouth with cash.  They rejected billionaire Ross Perot.  Mitt Romney supplemented his campaigns with his own personal fortune.  That didn’t work.  And, now, it looks like Mike is against the ropes.  Actually makes you feel pretty good about the American people.  Spending more than 10x what your fellow candidates spend may get you in the race, but it can’t get you to win the race.  And kudos to Elizabeth Warren for reminding us all of this . . . even if it hurt her own cause.

TAKEAWAY:  Buying more advertising to “make up” for your late arrival to the market, or to overcome bad reviews or worse, bad word of mouth (those debate performances, Mike – and what did you do that required those NDAs anyway?) may improve your standing, but it won’t guarantee your rise to the top. So don’t let advertising agencies convince you otherwise.  As the above proves, getting your show to run a long, long time and getting positive word of mouth is much more important than spending $100 million.

This race is only just getting interesting . . . so you can bet I’ll be back over the next 7 months with more comparisons of Political Theater to actual Theater.  But I promise . . . NO discussion of actual politics. 🙂

What do you think about the strategies candidates use to marketing themselves?  Comment below.

And if you want to learn more about political marketing and how we can use their strategies to help our own businesses, check out the smart blog of this actual political marketer.  (Yep, candidates hire marketing companies too.)

LAST CALL for our Broadway Investing Seminars.

Note to self . . . when you don’t do things for a long time that were very popular, and then do them later on, they tend to be popular again.

This happens to be the theory of why certain Broadway shows are revived.

And this also seems to be why we’ve had so many folks register for our two upcoming seminars about the ins and outs of Broadway Investing.

As I wrote here, I used to do these seminars twice a year for people who were interested in learning more about Broadway Investing, and for those folks who were looking to raise money and wanted to know how Broadway investing worked so they could explain it to their investors.

They were always popular.

I stopped doing them for a while, focused on publishing this book on Broadway Investing (the only book on Broadway Investing, I’m proud to say) . . . but the seminars are back, baby!

And based on the signups we had when I first announced it, both upcoming sessions are going to sell out, so I wanted to give you a LAST CALL before the seats are gone.

Here are the dates:

Tuesday, March 10th at 7 PM (extremely limited availability)

Monday, April 6th at 7 PM (limited availability)

Click here to sign up now and join other theater fans like you interested in learning more about . . .

  • How profits are split for Broadway Investors (including how Producers are paid)
  • Finding projects to invest in (including my strategy for picking a winner)
  • What besides profits you can hope to get from investing in a Broadway show (yes, we’re talking perks!)
  • Tax implications of Broadway Investing
  • And more . . .

Oh, and everyone who comes will get a free copy of the book, Broadway Investing 101.

I expect March 10th to sell out in the next 48 hours (and I’m keeping these seminars intimate to make sure I can answer everyone’s questions), so sign up now.

Last call everyone!

www.BroadwayInvestingSeminar.com

BREAKING NEWS: How your show could win a licensing deal . . . thanks to Rave and StageRights!

In case you missed it, last week we extended the deadline for submission to the Rave Theater Festival by one week!

That’s right, the final FINAL deadline to get your script submitted is this Sunday, March 8th at 11:59 PM.

Why did we extend?

Well, we wanted to get you TheaterMakers out there a chance to polish up your scripts, you perfectionists you.

But there was another, much more exciting reason.

It started last weekend at my Inner Circle weekend.  We were lucky enough to have Roger Bean, the founder and head honcho at StageRights, speak to my elite group of TheaterMakers about how to get their shows licensed.  And when Roger and I got to talking about Rave, he said, “How can I help?”  And before I could even answer he said, “What if I gave one show a licensing deal?”

He had me at licensing deal.

So he and I shook hands, and bam . . . just like that I’m thrilled to announce that one of the shows that appears at this year’s Rave WILL get published and a licensing deal at Stage Rights!  (And, yeah, even an advance!!!!)

If you don’t know StageRights and you are a TheaterMaker, you should.  They are one of the few independent licensing companies left and do a fantastic job for their Authors (and I’m proud to be one of them).

To have one of our Rave shows get a guarantee at what all Authors dream about is . . . well, a dream come true for this founder of Rave.

So, you see, we HAD to extend it by a week in order to give you a chance to not only get into Rave, but to also get published!

But you only have 6 days.  So submit today.  You never know what will happen if you do.  You could get a great NY Times review like some of our last year’s shows.  You could get optioned by a Producer like some of last year’s shows.

Or you could get licensed by StageRights . . . which will happen to one of THIS year’s shows!

Thanks again to Roger and StageRights.

And submit!

 

X