10 Tips On How To Finish That @#$%ing Play, Screenplay or Whatever You’re Working on.

Everyone has an idea for a something . . . whether it’s a play, a movie . . . or even an app.

But as I wrote about here, ideas are worth zippo.  That’s why they can’t be protected by copyright.

However, when those ideas are forged into something specific and actually finished, they can be priceless.

So, how do you finish that idea you’ve been working on?  Because of the success we’ve had with our 30 Day Script Challenge, I decided to expand on that concept and write down the most effective tips I’ve learned (and use myself) on how to finish a script, a book, a blog . . . or just about anything.

You ready for ’em?

Well, they’re not here.

I put the tips in an article on that fancy new media site, Medium.com.  To see my 10 Tips on How To Write More Often And Actually Finish Something, click here.

And when you get there, make sure you . . .

  1. Sign up.
  2. Read the article.
  3. And give it a “clap” at the end, if you like it.

I hope they help get your project from the page to the priceless phase.

Click here to read it so you can start finishin’.

Looking for ways to hold yourself accountable for your success, finish that script, or get it to the next stage? Click here to become a part of my PRO community today and get everything you need to succeed!

 

Why Rock & Roll on Broadway is here to stay.

Rock musicals ain’t no new thing.

They came onto the scene in the late ’60s with Hair and then came into their own with Superstar and more in the ’70s.

They didn’t dominate our industry, by any means.

But they’re about it.

Here’s why rock/pop musicals will be the most popular form of music on Broadway from this day on.

It’s all about math.

(My wife just stopped reading when she got to the M word, by the way.)

Rock and Roll was born in the late 1940s but didn’t achieve mainstream success until the early 1950s.  For the sake of this blog, let’s call the birth of Rock and Roll 1954, the year that Bill Haley and the Comets recorded “Rock Around The Clock” and a young Elvis Presley recorded “That’s All Right.”

Now, in the 1990s, when I was working on my first Broadway gig as a Production Assistant, rock musicals still had a “not for everyone” label.

Why?

Let’s do the math . . . of the age of our audience.

In 1994 (the year I graduated from college), people who were born in 1954 (and therefore were raised on rock and roll as a dominating music genre) were only 40 years old.  They were not yet the average age of the traditional theatergoer (which is approx 44 years old).

And since so many of our theatergoers are older than 40, born before the birth of Rock and Roll and raised on a much different style of music, you can see why pop/rock musicals didn’t appeal to everyone.  It’s why shows like Will Rogers FolliesCity of AngelsPassion, and Titanic were Tony winners and box office winners to boot.

Flash forward.

It’s now 2019.  Those who were born in 1954 are now 65 years old.  For the first time, the majority of our theatergoing audience was raised on Rock and Roll.

This is why shows like HamiltonDear Evan HansenHadestownand of course, the jukebox musicals, all of which have been based on music from the ’50s and beyond, are starting to dominate the market.

There will always be room for outliers, but our audience has aged into Rock and Roll and popular music being (is becoming) the norm on Broadway.

So if you’re writing more traditional stuff, you may have a harder time getting an audience to pay attention.

Because over the next ten years, it’s only going to get rockier and hip-hoppier on Broadway.

– – – – –

Need some tips on how to put more butts in seats, or how to use social media to sell your show or yourself?  Click here.

Podcast Episode 180 — Two Time Tony Award Winning, Multi-Faceted Musical Guru, Stephen Oremus

Which ONE of these things would mean that you’ve “made it” in our biz?

  1. You’re from the theater and you’re asked to work on The Academy Awards.
  2. You win not one, but two Tonys.
  3. Lady Gaga gives you a shout out during one of her concerts.

Just one of the above would probably make you think, “Ok, I’ve arrived.  I’m good. Check please.”  Am I right?

Well, what if all THREE of those things happened to you?

Because they did for Musical Director, Supervisor, Arranger, Orchestrator, Conductor and more, Stephen Oremus (Avenue QBook of MormonFrozen, etc.).

Stephen and I chatted about these three career peaks of his, as well as:

  • The job of a Musical Director and what makes a good one.
  • How working with Lada Gaga differs from working with Stephen Schwartz.
  • What makes a “hit” song and how he knows when he’s working on one.
  • His role in the creative process.
  • The frustrating thing about long-running shows on Broadway.

Click here for my podcast with Stephen.

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

Download it here.

GUEST BLOG: Tips for Applying to the BMI Workshop by Patrick Cook (with Frederick Freyer)

In the spring of 1983, Allan Becker ushered me into a windowless room on West 57th Street where I found myself facing Ed Kleban, Alan Menken, Maury Yeston, Skip Kennon, and Richard Engquist. They said hello and pointed me to the piano. My legs were a bit rubbery, but I made it to the piano and started my first song. It was a comedy song called “Piano Bar Prayer” (I was playing piano bar at the time). The first line of the chorus was “God, don’t make me sing Feelings again…” They laughed!!

36 years later, I have Allan Becker’s job, and writers are often emailing me asking for advice about auditioning for the BMI Workshop. When Ken asked if we could come up with a few guidelines, Rick and I grabbed the opportunity to gather some of our thoughts about it.

Tips About the Application

Submit songs that were written for a character. A sweet, generic love ballad may show off your songwriting talent, but it won’t show if you can write for the theatre. Pick a specific character and write a song for them, revealing their character through the song. Classic examples are “Some People” from Gypsy and “Cockeyed Optimist” from South Pacific. Modern day examples are “Waving Through a Window” from Dear Evan Hansen and “My Shot” from Hamilton.

Write out your accompaniments. Although we accept lead sheets with chords, we much prefer you write out your piano parts.

Don’t worry about style. Some people think there’s a “BMI Sound” that we look for. Not true. Nine, Avenue Q, Next to Normal, Once on This Island and Little Shop of Horrors all came out of the BMI Workshop. Other than craft, brilliance, and theatricality, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a similarity of “sound.”

Always welcome are… strong melodies as well as spareness and economy in your lyric writing and melody writing.

Heavily produced demos can be counter-productive. A clear recording of a singer accompanied by a piano is often the best approach.

Don’t announce your setups on your recordings.

A Couple of Tips About the Audition (if you get called in for an audition)

Don’t worry about being nervous. Everyone is nervous. It has no effect on your audition. Unlike actors and singers who must perform under pressure in front of a paying audience, writers are usually pacing in the back of the house where nobody sees them. In fact, most of the time the audition panel won’t even be looking at you; we’ll be looking at your score and/or your lyric sheets.

Try out your comedy song ahead of time. One of the requirements of the workshop audition s to present a comedy song. Writers often tell me they wrote their comedy song right before the audition. My advice is to try it out on other people first, even friends and family if you can trust them to be honest. Neil Simon said that out of ten lines he meant to be funny, only three actually got a laugh. Writing good comedy songs is an essential talent in the theatre and the only way to really tell if a song is funny is to get it out there and see how it plays.

Members of the BMI Workshop often say it is a life-changing experience. I know it was for me. You can apply online at bmi.com.

Recommended reading:

The Making of a Musical by Lehman Engel

The American Musical Theater: a Consideration by Lehman Engel

American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950 by Alec Wilder

The Broadway Musical: A Critical and Musical Survey by Joseph Swain

 

GUEST BLOG: To Stream or Not to Stream (or When to Stream) by Van Dean

The question of if and when to stream is something we strategize for each and every release. It’s certainly not an exact science, and reasonable people in our business disagree on this important decision.  The issue at hand is that the average Broadway cast album costs between $300,000 and $500,000 to produce.  Spotify pays between $0.001 and $0.007 per stream.  So an average Broadway cast album receiving average revenue from Spotify would have to receive 100 million streams to cover its production costs.  That doesn’t including paying for distribution, the songwriters royalties, the show royalties or anything beyond just the creation of the album.  Given that there are approximately 320 million people in the United States, your cast album has to be extremely popular to recoup it’s production costs from streaming alone.  Of course, repeated listens and international fans help rack up the streaming numbers. The Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen‘s of the world can do it, but not many others.

This is why when using the current music business models, CD and digital download sales are still so important for cast recordings.  Luckily, they still represent the lion’s share of our sales.  Broadway is a unique niche within the music business in that a Broadway cast recording is still considered an important collectible or keepsake of the musical experience.  We always make sure that our cast recording packages are chock full of photos, lyrics, essays and more to help enhance the fan experience. For those fortunate enough to see their favorite Broadway or Off-Broadway musical, the cast album is a cherished remembrance.  For those who live further from New York City, the cast recording is their way of discovering all of the amazing shows that are difficult for them to see in person. At any one time, there are around two dozen musicals running on Broadway.  Of course, there are thousands of musicals in the theatrical canon that can also be discovered and embraced through their cast recording, as well as through Off-Broadway, regional and licensed productions.

Whenever we work with a Broadway show, an Off-Broadway show, or a solo artist, we have the streaming conversation.  Most often, with Broadway shows, we wait a minimum of 6 months to a year (and sometimes longer) to stream on Spotify, Apple Music, etc.  This is to allow the recording time to reach its audience amongst CD and digital download buyers. The aforementioned high expense of Broadway cast recordings frequently necessitates this approach.  However, if the marketing and wide exposure of the show’s score are deemed more valuable for a particular production than the financial considerations, then early streaming may make more sense. Part of this decision depends on who financed the recording.  If the show financed the album via its marketing budget, it is much easier to justify prioritizing the marketing needs of the show.  If the album was financed by direct investors expecting to make their money back, then the financial considerations must be given more weight.  Without investors supporting the cast recordings, these important preservations of a show’s score and performances will become less and less common.

Off-Broadway recordings and solo artist recordings are far less expensive, so the pressure on streaming to deliver financially is less.  Streaming is excellent for getting more ears on an artists’ work, so early streaming is very attractive if the artists’ primary goal is wide exposure.  However, since many solo artists finance their own albums, we have this streaming conversation with each of them so that they can make the decision regarding the balance between exposure and financial return.

The next phase in cast albums will require innovative use of social media and streaming, collaboration with the unions to make the finances more efficient, and collaboration with creators and show producers to evolve with the changes in the industry and technology. Continued love and attention to quality and detail will be essential in the preservation of the art form that we have made our life’s passion.  The ability for future generations of theater lovers to discover new musicals, as well as rediscover the classics, depends on our industry’s ability to keep the cast album business strong for the foreseeable future.


Van Dean is President and Co-Founder of Broadway Records. He is also a Tony Award-winning Broadway Producer of 12 musicals and plays and is a Grammy Award-winning producer of The Color Purple (New Broadway Cast Recording).  Broadway Records has released 150+ albums including the Grammy-nominated Matilda, Once On This IslandMy Fair Lady and Fiddler on the Roof as well as AnastasiaGroundhog DayBandstand and also created the popular “Live at Feinstein’s/54 Below” album series and the Tony Award Season series. Van’s philanthropic work includes being a producer of “Broadway For Orlando: What The World Needs Now is Love”, “Broadway Kids Against Bullying: I Have a Voice”, “From Broadway With Love” benefit concerts for Sandy Hook, Orlando (Emmy Award winner for sound design) and Parkland and his work with NewArts in Sandy Hook/Newtown, CT. www.BroadwayRecords.com

SIGN UP BELOW TO NEVER MISS A BLOG

X