Talkin’ Broadway stops them from Talkin’.

The infamous and original broadway web chatter site,, issued a statement recently, letting all their chatterazi know that they no longer will publish “reviews/reports of dress rehearsals/gypsy run-throughs.”

They’ve got good intentions here.  But they’re making a mistake.  As I learned from social media guru, Warren Ackeman at Affinitive, the more you tighten the reins on your online audience, the more likely those reins are going to break.  Does TB really think their passionate peeps won’t find another place to chat?  They’re gonna scurry to find one fast.  Like roaches when you turn on the light.

I’m sure there are producers all over town celebrating Talking Bway’s new policy.  But that just means they’re not confident in what’s gonna be on that stage.

You can’t produce with fear about what people are going to say, no matter who they are or what sites they visit or when they come.

And, remember, if your show is fantastic, you’ll WANT those people talking about your show as early as you can get them.

So Talkin’ Broadway, thanks for trying to protect us from the bullies.  But don’t worry, we can take care of ourselves.

And if we can’t, we’re definitely in the wrong business.

BTW, if any Talking Broadway regulars are reading this and want to write reviews/reports of dress rehearsals/gypsy run-throughs, might I suggest  😉

Hit the street to find out how to sell.

Guess what is happening in the photo to the right.

Give up?  I’ll tell you.

That’s Janine and her daughter Ellen.  They’re from Ohio and they came in to New York last weekend.  They’re staying at the Milford Plaza and plan on seeing a musical and going to The Empire State Building.

That’s Duane in the red sweatshirt.  He’s from the Bronx.  He’s an underground rapper who records his own music and then sells it on the street in midtown.

And that’s Ellen, digging into her purse to buy this unknown artist’s CD for $10, even though she’s never heard of him before, and even though she “doesn’t really like rap.”

So what happened here?  How the heck did Duane get a tourist to fork over cash in the middle of midtown, and how did he penetrate an alternative demographic?

There is nothing more powerful than the live pitch. It’s why telemarketing, Tupperware parties and door-to-door sales still work.  It’s not as fast as the internet, but if you’ve got an unknown product and are trying to break through to a resistant demo, do you really think a banner ad is going to do it?

Duane believes in his product.  And Janine and Ellen could feel that.  And they aren’t just buying a CD.  They are buying Duane.  Great sales people know how to make themselves a part of their product.  That’s not only how to convert one sale, but it’s how to get a customer for life.

This is why who works at your box office and who is answering your phone line is so important.  This is also why Broadway is at a significant disadvantage in its current model.

Box office ticket sellers are hired by the theater.  Not by the Producer.

Imagine if you were the owner of a GAP. You rent a storefront on 5th avenue.  You stock it with your product, you advertise, etc.  And then your landlord sends in your sales team.  Huh?

You don’t get to screen them.  You don’t get to train them.  They don’t have to wear your product.  You can’t fire them.  You don’t even sign their checks, yet you have to reimburse the landlord for every penny of their salary and benefits.

You wouldn’t stand for that, right?  You’d find another storefront.

That’s the way it works on Broadway.  And because of the limited availability of “storefronts”, we take it.

Same thing for the phones.  As a producer, you have no control over Ticketmaster or Telecharge.  And, as a producer, you also have no choice but to use them.  They come packaged with your theater agreement.  And yes, the theater owners get a kickback from the ticketing companies, and the Producer gets no financial benefit.  In fact, Telecharge is owned by the Shubert Organization.

With the amount of money producers are risking on shows, we deserve to be able to choose the best sales team for us.  Maybe we’d use Telecharge and maybe we’d hire a lot of the great Local 751 members out there.  But we deserve that choice.  Having a choice means competition.  And competition is what makes businesses and industries stronger.

If I were choosing my sales team today, the first person I’d interview would be Duane.

Come on, everybody does it . . .

. . . And you know you do too.

When you’re all alone, and no one is watching . . . you google you.

And no matter what your parents may have told you, googling yourself is a good thing.

This sort of behavior, also referred to as “ego-surfing,” used to be reserved exclusively for the obsessive actor, who got cheap thrills from seeing their name pop up multiple times.

However, in the age of the online consumer review, when blogs are bling and user generated content is king, it’s essential that you google yourself.  And your show, your theatre company, your product, or anything and everything that your audience or customers may talk about online.

It’s the cheapest focus group you can find.

When you find bad things, and you will, try and look at them objectively.  Yes, take into account the source, the language, etc. but see if there’s anything to learn from the worst of the worst.  And if you see several people saying the same thing . . . take heed.  Maybe you can make an adjustment that can prevent future online outbursts.

Same with the good stuff!  Don’t just pat yourself on the back.  Examine exactly what people enjoy. Notice a trend?  Exploit it!  Advertise it, incorporate into copy, etc.  There’s as much to learn from the good as from the bad.

And don’t stop there.

You know what’s great about the web?  It’s a two way super-highway.

If someone wrote about your show and didn’t have a good time (seats were uncomfortable, show wasn’t what they thought it was going to be), reach out to them.  Apologize.  Offer to somehow make it right.  Get them tickets to another show.  People who purge themselves online usually don’t stop there.  They do it with friends, family and so on.  You can try and stop the vile word of mouth by just saying you’re sorry, and seeing if there’s something you can do.  Just hearing from you may shock them speechless.

And if someone said something nice?  Thank them!  Positive affirmation is the best way to keep people doing what you want them to do.  Drop them a personal note.  You’d be amazed at the kudos you’ll get for dropping a fan of your show an email that comes “directly from the producer.”  Cost to you?  30 seconds.  And now they have another reason to talk about your show.

I like to do a few things when I find a good post or blog about one of my shows.  I send an email as mentioned above, then I ask for their address so I can send them a gift (an autographed program, a sample cd, etc.).  Not only have I given them some great positive reinforcement to continue doing their “good work” . . . but I’ve also gotten their actual address in case I want to market my next show to them

Think about someone talking about you online like a call to your customer service department.  Don’t be like a company that outsources its customer service to a foreign country.  Surprise your customer.  Pick up the phone, listen, and talk back . . . in English.

KEN’S TIP O’ THE DAY:  Google introduced an incredible service a few years ago that leaves the googling to them.  Rather than have to remember to search for yourself or your show every day, you can set up a google alert on whatever keyword you want.  Google will email you whenever that word appears on the web.   I have one for all of my shows and some of my competitors.  You should too.

Set them up here.

This just in . . . theater tickets are cheap. :-)

I wanted to remind everyone that starting this Monday, February 25th and through Sunday, March 9th, The Off-Broadway Brainstormers are sponsoring the 3rd “20at20” campaign.

During 20at20, you can see over 20 of the best Off-Broadway shows (including my three) for only $20.

The only catch is that the tickets are only available 20 minutes before curtain.

I bet some of you might be surprised to hear that I’m the chairman of this committee after my “theater tickets are expensive” post.

20at20 is a perfect example of the type of program that demonstrates that there are lower entry points for seeing theater that make it accessible to all, despite our “rep” for high prices.

But frankly, Off-Broadway shows can’t survive on $20 tickets.  So why else would we do it?

The challenge and ultimate success of programs like this is not selling the $20 tickets.  That should be easy.

The challenge and goal is to take the thousands of $20 ticket buyers over the next two weeks, and convert them to higher price ticket buyers throughout the rest of the year that will increase the overall growth of our industry.

20at20 is the Off-Broadway version of a pharmaceutical company giving a doctor samples of a new cholesterol drug, or a soft-drink company giving away beverages on the street, or Gillette sending me a Mach 3 razor (with only 1 blade) for free.

It’s what Captain Andy does in Show Boat.  He gives away just a “sample” of his show on the street and that watches the audience file in.  Not too much and not too little.

How do you sample?

Oh, and take these 2 weeks to see an Off-Broadway show, even if it’s not one of mine.  Visit to get the full list of shows and additional information on the program.

And while you’re there, sign up to get email updates on the program and other offers . . . and to see just how we try to convert you to a higher price ticket throughout the year.  😉

P.S.  I’ve been shaving with a Gillette razor ever since that box with the Mach 3 arrived at my door 7 years ago.

Guess where I am?

Which hotel do you think I was in when I took this picture of the guest services aka concierge counter?

Ok, it’s not a hotel.

So which casino do you think I was in?

Sorry, wrong again.

I wasn’t at a hotel or a casino.

I was at a movie theater.

Once again, we got beat.

Wouldn’t it be great if theaters had concierges?  (I would actually argue that the theater-going crowd is probably more likely to expect and utilize such services.)

A theater concierge could get a limo for you, a dinner reservation, or . . . wait for it . . . build up enough trust with the client in order to recommend and sell tickets to other shows in the same complex or theater chain!  🙂

They could do everything that a traditional concierge could do, and through commissions, tips, etc., could probably pay for itself with little or no financial strain on the venue.  At the same time, the venue would create a trusting relationship with their audience that would turn into loyalty and additional business (and a great mailing list).  At the very least it would create a remarkable experience that would get talked about.

Then again, maybe they wouldn’t do anything except let people know where the bathrooms are.  But that’s enough for me. Hotels, casinos, and other luxury service providers are there to take care of their customers not just when they need them, but IF they need them.  And we should be too.

It’s this type of value that keeps people coming back and paying the big bucks.

Let’s not get beat by the movies again, Ok?  They only charge $11.75.  That’s when we really start to look bad.

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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