The ONE Most Important thing Broadway can learn from the Olympics.

I’ve been at this bloggin’ thing for a few Olympic cycles now, and I’ve written about what we can learn from the Games before.

And as I watched Simone Biles vault to heights never seen before (that girl has got some “ups” as my JV Basketball Coach used to say), and Michael Phelps swim faster than a fish, I started to put together another “Top 10 Takeaways” blog like the others I’ve done.

But one of those takeaways was way too important to get lost in the shuffle. (And sometimes, and this goes for your personal and professional goals as well btw, when a To-Do list is too long, you lose focus on getting the most important stuff done first.)

So I scrapped the other nine things the theater can learn to put an Olympic-sized spotlight on one.

And it’s a simple one. But often, it’s the simple things you can do that can have the biggest effect.

On the Olympic website, there’s a call to action banner that says something like, “Wanna be an Olympian?”

Click it and it’ll take you to a micro-site called the Gold Map, which then allows you to pick the specified sport you’re interested in and gives you all sorts of info about getting involved with that sport including where to train, local competitions, and much more.

Now, the Olympic designers know that the odds of this site leading someone to the medal stand is lower than the odds of me beating Usain Bolt in the 100m dash.

But that’s not their point.

The mission of this “Gold Map” initiative is to increase engagement. Because they know the future audience and supporters of the sport come from people who have played the sport.

Guess what?

The same is true for the theater.

An NEA report concluded that people who were involved in the theater/arts were much more likely to attend the arts later in their lives.

So the key to creating the next generation of Broadway audiences, investors, staffers, and more, is getting more people involved in the theater . . . wherever they are.

And that’s what our industry and all theater companies should focus on, no matter where in the world they are. Oh and a simple action item to start this ball rolling?

We should steal from the Olympics. Why doesn’t each show have a page on their website that says, “Do you want to get to Broadway? Here’s how . . .” With a link to a page that talks about community theaters and college training programs and books and podcasts from performers and more.

There are a lot of people out there interested in what you and I do every day. They just need a little help to find their way.

It’s up to us to show them the Yellow Brick Road to Broadway.

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –

FUN STUFF:

– Listen to Podcast Episode 85 with Producers, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron! Click here.

– Enter the Sunday Giveaway to win two free tickets and a signed playbill to An Act of GodClick here to enter.

– Get everything you need to help get your show off the ground when you join TheProducersPerspectivePro for free.  Join the club today.

 

Why a Rain Dance reminded me what Theater can (and should) do.

I was in suburban Massachusetts last weekend visiting the ‘rents, when I stumbled on a story of a small town Selectman that reminded me of what our shows should endeavor to do.

There’s a bit of a drought in central Mass, believe it or not.  In some locales, they’ve instituted daytime watering bans, encouraged people to cover their pools, and tried to educate the public on a myriad of other water conservation methods.

But, from what I’ve heard, it wasn’t quite working.  No one was paying attention to the flyers and signs and overly didactic articles about saving water (boring!).

So one politician from a small town with Native American roots tried something a little different.

He put on a show.

He contacted a Native American tribe from the area and asked them to put on a Rain Dance in the town square on a Saturday afternoon.  He publicized it as a free event for all ages.  Bring the whole family and watch this ancient tradition.  They added some food and arts and crafts, and all of a, sudden it was a Rain Dance Festival.

And a ton of people showed up.

Once in that small captive area, the town leaders were able to speak directly to the audience about water conservation, hand out flyers, and educate what was previously a reluctant group on the current drought, and what everyone could do about it.

And while the town citizens learned . . . they had fun.

This politician used entertainment as a way to get his message across.  And isn’t that what great theater is supposed to do?  It serves an audience spoonfuls of sugar with songs and dancing girls and big sets, but some of the best shows out there (West Side Story, Kinky Boots, etc.) deliver an important message to the audience without them even knowing it.

People go to the theater for one primary reason . . . to be entertained.  That doesn’t mean you can’t educate them at the same time, but the job of the Producer and the Playwright is to entertain first and educate second.

(By the way, the same way this politician used entertainment to deliver his message, so can CEOs, Pastors, Managers and anyone in a leadership position.)

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –

FUN STUFF:

– Listen to Podcast Episode 85 with Producers, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron! Click here.

– Enter the Sunday Giveaway to win two free tickets and a signed playbill to An Act of GodClick here to enter.

– Get everything you need to help get your show off the ground when you join TheProducersPerspectivePro for free.  Join the club today.

This could end the Secondary Market as we know it.

If there were a Perishable Inventory Consortium of all the industries that deal with expiring inventory (shows, restaurants, hotels, etc.), then the Airline Industry would be its leader (and there should be a conference for all these industries, by the way, sharing best practices between each other).

Why do I nominate the Airline Industry as the King of Perishable Inventory?

Because over the past several decades, it has led the way with its initiatives to sell more tickets and offer move value to its customers.  And, like us, the airlines have been up against the ropes many times (a lot of their business depends on non-required spending (i.e. vacations)) yet they’ve roared back, partly because of how good they are at coming up with new ways to maximize their profits before their planes take off.

The airlines were the first to offer last minute discounts in email blasts (anyone remember Smarter Living?).

They were the first to offer “premium seats” (first class, premium economy, etc.).

They were the first to offer variable pricing, with prices flexing depending on time of year (have you booked your Christmas travel yet?).

They were the first (and this is my favorite) to offer scarcity with their tickets (“Only 4 tickets left at this price”).

And so on.

And there’s something in their process that could end the secondary market on Broadway . . . and in sports, concerts, or any form of live entertainment.

Not that I think we should end the secondary market, mind you.  I actually believe having a secondary market is a healthy thing for most industries, including ours (they can buy a lot of tickets to shows early on).  So I shine a spotlight on this one “thing” today not to say that we should do it, but to say that it could happen (whether we like it or not) and both us, and the secondary sellers, should be ready to adapt if it does.

See, there is no secondary market with the airlines, now is there?  At Christmas time, if you don’t have a ticket to Hamilton and all the shows are sold out (which they are), but you really, really want one, you can buy one off someone who has one.  But, if you don’t have a ticket home to Albuquerque, and all the flights are sold out, you can’t buy one from someone else.

Why?

Simple.  You need a photo ID to check in.

With that very simple safeguard (for security reasons of course), no one can sell what they bought to someone else, for more money or for less.

Hotels are the same way.  They weren’t always.  20 years ago, as long as you had a credit card, they were happy to hand over the keys to the room.  Now?  “Photo ID, please,” is what I hear every time I check in.  And if you don’t have one, consider yourself on the street.

Imagine if Broadway shows required a photo ID?

Bam.  The Secondary Market goes poof.  Only people that buy the tickets could use the tickets.

Now, there are a billion downsides to this . . . you couldn’t buy tickets as a gift (although gift cards are the work around there), what about groups (although groups have to fly too and they figure it out), there’d be longer lines to get into the theater (we don’t want to require people to show up 1.5 hours before curtain), and again, secondary market sellers are big time buyers.  I think we should work together rather than drive each other apart.

So I don’t think we’ll see this happen any time soon.  That is, unless the next Hamilton (which looks to be Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) takes an aggressive stance on secondary sellers.  Or unless, and I hate to even say this, but unless “something” happens (and I think you know what I mean) that requires much tighter security in Times Square and at the theaters.  Then, whether we like it or not, we’ll be checking a lot more than bags when people enter our theaters.

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –

FUN STUFF:

– Listen to Podcast Episode 84 with Tony Award-Winning Producer, Barry Weissler! Click here.

– Enter the Sunday Giveaway to win two free tickets to A Sign of the Times at Goodspeed! Click here to enter.

– Get everything you need to help get your show off the ground when you join TheProducersPerspectivePro for free.  Join the club today.

Jimmy.

I spent about fifteen minutes trying to come up with the right title for this blog.

But how could I sum up what James M. Nederlander meant to this industry and to the people in it in a quippy 150 character blog title?

There aren’t 15,000 characters that can sum up Jimmy Sr., the patriarch of the Nederlander family, who passed away on Monday evening, at the somehow-it-seems-too-young age of 94.

The man built the Broadway that we know today.

He’s one of the last of a generation who was instrumental in drawing up the blueprints of modern Broadway.  And without him, well, there’d probably be a bunch more office buildings and condos in Times Square, instead of his beautiful theaters.

Known for no-nonsense quips of his own about how to make it in this business (one of my favorites is . . . “They shouldn’t landmark the buildings, they should landmark the Producers.”), Jimmy Sr. was like The Godfather of the industry.  Wherever he went, there was a line out the door of people waiting to pay their respects, ask for a favor, or just shake the hand of the man who had the foresight, the business acumen, and, more importantly, the passion for this crazy business to build it into what it is today.

I had the pleasure of being on that line on several occasions, including most recently to thank him for giving me the keys to the Brooks Atkinson Theatre for my production of Spring Awakening last fall.

And before I could even finish expressing my gratitude, he said, “No, no, no.  Thank you.”

It doesn’t seem like much, but in a day when getting a Broadway theater is like winning the lottery . . . on your birthday . . . he didn’t need to be grateful.  But he was.

And that kind of gratitude, despite his ginormous success, is a lesson that I will never forget, and I hope to share with the next generation someday myself.

To say he’ll be missed is like saying the sky is blue.  It’s just too obvious.

One of our founding fathers is gone.  The only solace I can take is that I just know that high above us, he’s negotiating to build a few more theaters.

Farewell, Jimmy.  And even though you didn’t want to hear it . . . thank you.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Nederlander family . . . because while even though he was a titan of our industry, more importantly he was a husband, father and a grandfather.

To learn more about Mr. Nederlander’s life and history, click here.

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –

FUN STUFF:

– Enter the Sunday Giveaway to win two tickets to STOMPClick here to enter.

– Listen to Podcast Episode 82 with Broadway Star Steven Pasquale!  Click here.

– Get everything you need to help get your show off the ground when you join TheProducersPerspectivePro for free.  Join the club today.

How Come The Stigma of Self Producing doesn’t apply to these people.

I had a consult a few weeks ago with an emerging playwright who was struggling to find someone to put her first play on the boards.

When I suggested that the someone she was looking for might be the same someone who helps her put on her shoes and socks in the morning, she looked at me as if I suggested she perform dental surgery on herself.

“I can’t do that,” she said.  Now, I knew very well she could do that.  She had the ability.  She had the resources.  And I wasn’t talking about her putting the show up at the Palace, but finding a way to get her play up at the showcase, festival or even mini Off Broadway level?  Oh sure, she could do that.  I’ve seen hundreds of people do it before.   She could definitely do that.

But she didn’t want to do that.

“Why?” I asked.

“How would it look?” she countered.

It’s funny, nope, it’s sad that there’s such a stigma attached to self-producing, and taking that first step to attracting others to your work.

Because for some reason, this stigma only applies to the arts.

You’ve heard me call Steve Jobs a producer before.  But when you think about it, wasn’t he a self-producer?

He had an idea.  He figured out a way to execute that idea.  He even had to raise some money, come up with early marketing plans, and do just about everything else that a Producer has to do.  But, he was also the artist that came up with the product (which in my client’s case was a play).

What about the guys that came up with Google in their dorm room?

Or a chef that opens his own restaurant?

Any entrepreneur who starts their own business is no different than any self-producing artist.  In business, we praise these guys for their ability to find an idea, develop it into a product and then bring it to market.

Yet in the arts, that’s somehow taboo.

Well, not anymore. It’s time to inoculate us all from the idea that self-producing is an act of desperation or vanity (as I wrote about in one of my very first blogs here).

“How would it look?” I responded to my client.

I guess it would look like you’re taking charge of your own destiny and not waiting around for someone to give you permission to get your stuff out into the world.

I guess it would look like you were just like Steve Jobs.

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –

FUN STUFF:

– Enter the Sunday Giveaway to win two tickets to STOMPClick here to enter.

– Listen to Podcast Episode 82 with Broadway Star Steven Pasquale!  Click here.

– Get everything you need to help get your show off the ground when you join TheProducersPerspectivePro for free.  Join the club today.

SIGN UP BELOW TO NEVER MISS A BLOG

X