Top 10 Takeaways from our TheaterMaker Super Conference

In case you haven’t heard, we had a giant TheaterMaker conference this past weekend.

(And in case you didn’t get that joke – you probably aren’t on our email list – because we sent a whole bunch of emails about it.)

The reason why we so passionately encourage all you Writers, Producers, Investors, Directors, Designers and anyone who makes theater to come is simple.  We know for a fact that as a result of getting together in the room with other like-minded TheaterMakers . . . more theater gets made.  Period.  We know this.  Because people who come to the conference tell us.

One of our greatest success stories yet happened DURING this conference!  A TheaterMaker from New Hampshire asked me a question about how to get her middle school musical produced, and I gave her a couple of tips . . . and this action-fueled artrepreneur called someone on the next networking break . . . and boom . . . she got her show BOOKED!  I mean . . . mic drop!!!

The conference included Broadway A-list Producers, Directors, Press Reps, and more on panels like Dramaturgy, Readings, and Diversity (which I am so proud to say was one of the most heavily attended panels AND the longest – what a conversation).

In case you missed the conference, I pulled 10 Takeaway from some of the talks which are below.   And while reading them will never be the same as hearing them live, seated next to more than 400 fellow TheaterMakers, I hope they give you a little steroid shot of inspiration and education to get you to go out there and make more theater.

Enjoy!

  1. “With ‘yes and…’ we get to create what comes next.” – Stephanie J. Block
  2. “You deserve a place at the table.” – Joe Iconis
  3. “Remember to stay calm. Getting angry does not help anyone hear your point. Educate with kindness.” – Arvind Ethan David, Diversity In The Arts
  4. “Casting Directors are in service of the collective imagination of the creative team. They are only trying to help bring your ideas and visions to life.” – Tara Rubin, Casting Superpowers Share How They Cast a Project And What the Right Cast Can Do For You
  5. “There’s never going to be a “perfect piece” so readjust the weight you give critics’ opinions.” – Jamil Jude, Navigating the Collaborative Process
  6. “When it comes to branding, remain consistent. Stay SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely).” – Lori Rosolowsky, How To Market Your Project To Regional Theaters Across The Country
  7. “Don’t be intimidated to introduce yourself to someone in the creative field. We’re all trying to do the same thing – create great art!” – Ken Davenport, Get Your Show Off The Ground
  8. “Know your WHY. Trust yourself. Believe in your material. And be concise in your pitch.” – Larry Rogowsky, Practice Your Pitch Session
  9. “Every play is different. Every playwright is different. In order to have the most productive partnership, it is the dramaturg’s job to know what the needs of the playwright are and how/when to deliver feedback.” – Jill Rafson, What is a Dramaturg and When/Why You Need One
  10. “No more waiting to sit at the table. Show up and take your seat at the table.” – David Caparelliotis, Casting Superpowers Share How They Cast a Project And What the Right Cast Can Do For You

Want to hear and see some of the panels that folks were raving about it?  We recorded them!  Click here to see how you can get them.

And we will see you next year!!!

What Disney Plus Could Mean To Us.

The streaming world will never be the same.

On November 12th, Disney will launch its own Disney streaming service, Disney + taking its Disney Channel roots to an on-demand pay-per-month subscription model for all of its titles . . . from the Mickey Mouse Club to Marvel to The Star War Series.

All of it.  In one place.

And more importantly, NOT in other places.

Yep, Netflix will no longer carry Marvel, Disney and Star Wars movies by the end of this year.

Which means if you’ve got a young one in your family (like a certain Broadway blogger you know and hopefully love), you’ll be pickin’ up Disney Plus faster than you can say M-I-C.

What’s drawn my attention to this model is that Disney is willing to give up the major distribution networks, like Netflix, for its direct-to-consumer model.  They’re skipping the middle man to speak straight to their customers.

They don’t want to sell their content to someone else, who sells it again to their customers.

No, no . . . Disney wants to sell its content STRAIGHT to its customers.

Because why not?

Well, the reason why it hasn’t is that Hollywood never had a direct-to-consumer option before the internet.  Disney had to go through 3rd parties . . . whether that was movie theaters, or television networks (until they bought their own), etc.

But not anymore.

Disney will now handle the sales transactions (netting higher margins) and get all the important customer data . . . not only knowing who is buying its stuff, but more importantly what its customers are buying . . . which will help influence their content creation in the future.

Why is this relevant to the theater?

We don’t sell straight to our customers.  We go through 3rd parties too.

And as a marketing person, it’s one of the things that drives me nuts.  In fact, people often ask me my “Genie Question” from my podcast, and what I’d ask the Genie from Aladdin to wish for on Broadway?

Simple.

I wish we could be our own cash register.

It would create more (and better) competition.  There would be better marketing.  And yes, I firmly believe, higher grosses.  And Broadway wouldn’t only be for the white-hot hits that sell no matter how they are sold.  Shows that might be important but not commercial could have a better shot at grinding out a run.

Disney is proving that a direct-to-consumer model is the wave of the . . . well . . . the present.  Broadway is ten years behind everyone else. But I’m predicting a big change in how tickets are sold on Broadway over the next ten years.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to speak to our customers directly to tell them all about it.

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Our conference is just TWO weeks away!  AGH!  You coming?  I hope so.  Click here.

What “Google Glass” has to do with the launch of your show.

Do you remember Google Glass?

It’s ok if you don’t.  Glass didn’t last long, even though Google itself thought it was going to be the next iPhone and would revolutionize how people “see” the world.

Glass was a wearable Star Trek looking device that gave you a camera and some simple google apps (maps, etc.) right in your eyesight.  It responded to voice commands and a simple tap, and there were rumors that it wouldn’t be too long until you’d be able to walk down the street with your Glass on, and it would facially recognize people as they passed.

And it flopped.  Big time.

I had one.  Two actually, being the early adopter that I am (after I did this, a lot of tech companies put me on their list to get stuff first).

And when I picked mine up at the Glass headquarters (seriously) and put it on for the first time, I remember asking my sales rep (who was more like a brainwashed Google rep), “Do you really think people are going to wear this down the street?”  “Oh yes,” he replied, sounding somewhat like a robot, “The Glass revolution is already underway. And it’s here to stay.”

Those Glass headquarters are now a Tesla dealership, I think.

What blows my mind as I look back at the launch and crash of Glass is two things:

  1. Google, one of the smartest, forward-thinking, revolutionizing companies, got it really, really, wrong.

  2. Google, one of the biggest brands in the world, with the ability to put a marketing message in front of millions and millions of people, couldn’t make a success out of a product that people didn’t want.

I got pitched a show recently, with an admittedly A-list creative team, and big brand as the underlying source material.  And the Producer actually said the words, “This can’t miss!”

While I admired the confidence, I passed because of the arrogance.

Because If Google can miss?  Anyone can miss. And to think that your pedigree and built-in-marketing-machine is enough is one of the biggest mistakes any Producer can make.

A brand and a team yes, even a star, can help mitigate your risk, but it can’t eliminate it.  And the most important ingredient in your show is your story.

And the irony is, if you find a story that captivates your audience, they won’t even care about the brand or who put it together.

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Are you committed to advancing your career? Are you interested in expanding your network? Do you consider yourself a “do-er”?

If you answered yes to any one of these questions, then join me and the best in the business at The Producer’s Perspective Super Conference for a weekend of learning and networking on November 16th and 17th in NYC! Check out the full speaker and panelists list here! I hope to see you there . . . Be sure to say hi when you see me 🙂

Did you know Broadway has a loyalty program? And why you should have one too.

One of my favorite theater reporters wrote an article for the Associated Press recently and with the headline alone, he nailed something that I had been thinking for years:

A Broadway Secret:  A Frequent Flyer Program for Theater Fans

If I had the insight to write that article, I would have headlined it, “Why the @#$% do more people not know about the awesome thing that is Audience Rewards, for @#$%’s sake?”

And that is one of the many reasons I don’t write for the Associated Press!

If you don’t know about Audience Rewards, click here, learn more and join.  It’s the “Official Loyalty Program for Broadway” that was started years ago, in a tri-partisan partnership between the major theater chains (which ain’t such an easy thing to broker, by the way).

As a member of Audience Rewards, you earn points, you save money, you get freebies.  Bingo, bango, bongo . . . who doesn’t want that?

Don’t misunderstand, AR is a vibrant program with a ton of members.  But why doesn’t it feel like an Airline or Hotel loyalty program, which has entire websites dedicated to how to earn more points, hacking VIP status, and more?

In other words, why aren’t YOU a member?

It didn’t take me too long to realize one of the answers.  You see, AR is an “industry” loyalty program, not a brand-specific loyalty program.

You’re probably a member of a whole bunch of loyalty programs:  American Airlines, Marriot, Hertz, Chili’s, your nail salon, poke bowl place, etc, etc.

You’re probably NOT a member of these loyalty programs:  Travel, Hotels, American Chain Restaurants, Beauty Salons, Fast Food Fads, etc.

See what I mean?  Industry vs. Specific Brand.

In fact, our loyalty program is probably one of the FEW industry-wide loyalty programs out there (again, a testament to the power brokers who negotiated this deal – because it’s somewhat unprecedented).

I’m so thankful for Audience Rewards, because it gives our fans something to hang their loyalty on, and for us Producers, it puts butts in seats.

But what I’d like to see is more show-specific loyalty programs.

What punch card can you offer your most loyal fans for coming back more than once . . . or even better, recommending your show to others?  What type of upgrades can you offer to the audience members who pay full price rather than discount? What non-advertised secret clubs can you create that people can aspire to get an invite to (see American Airlines Concierge Key program).

If you’re not rewarding your customers for their loyalty to you and your brand, then you are missing out on one of the most important parts of your marketing campaigns.  Because keeping the customers you have happy is so much easier than acquiring new ones.

So just because our industry has a terrific loyalty program, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one too.

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Learn more marketing tips live and in-person from some of the best in the Broadway biz here.

 

 

 

What I loved about the Harry Potter Times Square Takeover.

In case you missed it, on September 5th, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child did cast a spell over all the digital billboards in Times Square.

As you can see in this clip,  it was the largest advertising “takeover” in NYC on record . . . and probably the world.

Why did I love this marketing move so much?

Is it because of all the “traditional” forms of media still being used today, Outdoor has held its value, while print, tv and more have dropped precipitously?

Is it because it was a “back to Hogwarts” campaign that was calendar-synced to our back to school week . . . and timing your campaigns with what is on the mind of your consumer always strengthens your impression?

Is it because while Potter continues to do good biz, there has been some chatter about why it isn’t bigger than Hamilton and others, with the brand it has (I’d say it’s the doubleheader – which is never easy for a US audience to embrace)?  This stunt answered the question of its size, especially with the coincided announcements of productions in San Francisco, Toronto and Hamburg.

Is it because Sarah Jessica Parker was there?

I loved it for all of those things . . . and for one other.

I’m positive that when the idea came up in the advertising meeting of taking over every billboard in Times Square, someone said or at the very least thought . . . “That’s impossible.”

And then, someone whipped open their spellbook, gave that person the head of a donkey with no tongue, and made this takeover effin’ happen.

It probably cost a small fortune.  It probably was a giant pain in the a$$.

But the best marketing (and the best everything!) is what hasn’t been done before.  And things that haven’t been done require passion and perseverance.

And, they always pay off.  Always (even though sometimes you can’t see it right away).

Kudos to the Producers, the Ad Agency, the Press Rep and to everyone on the Potter team for doing/imagining the impossible and making it a reality.

Now, if they could only make quidditch a real sport.

 

 

 

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