The Top 5 Reasons Why Broadway Grossed Almost $2 billion bucks.

Last week, I wrote about the record-breaking reported Broadway gross of $1.7b (and why I believed it was more like $2b).

And this week, I want to talk about why we’re smashing records like a 1950s preacher who thinks rock-n-roll is the devil.

Broadway has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last few years and, while there are a number of reasons we are where we are, here are my top five.

1. It’s a Family Thing

There are more family musicals on Broadway now than there were decades ago.  This past season we had all the Disneys (including the new Frozen) as well as Anastasia, School of Rock, Charlie, and more.  And when you’ve got a family musical, the average customer’s order is more than 2 tickets.  More tickets = more bodies = more bucks.  And despite the increased number of shows that favor the family, we haven’t seemed to reach an oversaturation point.

2. There is no Top Price anymore

A little over 10 years ago, we introduced the “Premium Ticket,” which was a higher priced ticket for the better seats in the house.  In the past few years, the price of tickets has become fluid, rising (and falling) due to demand, just like an airline ticket.

And one trend that I’ve noticed lately is that most shows aren’t just relying on their General Managers to handle the complex process of analyzing and tweaking prices daily.  Producers are now hiring analysts either inside their ad agencies or independent experts to handle this for them.  Why?  It’s easy to justify the extra expense with the amount of money that could be made with even the slightest tweak up on ticket prices or the slightest tweak down on ticket prices (that moves more volume).

3. He’s The Boss . . . and Events

Certainly one of the biggest gross bumpers in the last season was the surprise long runner, Bruce Springsteen.  While everyone expected him to gross in the millions. . . no one expected him to stay this long!

While some have grumbled that he’s occupying a prime theater when a new musical or a new play could be in his spot, you won’t hear me complaining.  A short-term loss of a theater for the long-term effects of getting new audiences and frankly, just being able to say, “Broadway is so cool, Bruce Springsteen played here,” is worth it.

But The Boss isn’t the only one who has helped spike our numbers over the last few years.  We’ve had a lot of short-term fillers that have popped into theaters in-between bookings and added to our bottom line.  I’m talking shows like The Illusionists and Rocktopia.  Ok, ok, so those shows may not be what we want the world to think of when they think Broadway, but if a theater is dark, something is better than nothing.  (A dark theater is one of the most depressing things there is.)

4. The Hamilton Effect

Hamilton got a @#$% ton of press.  And still does!  A reporter at a local news org told me that her editors instructed her to write about Hamilton every chance she got because the views on each article were off the charts
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Hamilton was a lightning rod to our industry.  People were talking about it all over the world.  And when shows hit juggernaut status and are featured on The Grammys and on the cover of Rolling Stone, etc., that doesn’t just sell more tickets to Hamilton… it sells more tickets to Broadway.  It’s the trickle-down effect, and all of us are benefiting.

So if you see Lin-Manuel, say thanks.

5. We’re creating great content

The most important reason we’re killing it these days is the most simple and also the best way to build any business . . . we’re creating great product. Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Come From Away . . . we haven’t put this many big-grossers on our boards since 1957-58, when West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and Music Man were all on the boards, or since Les Mis and Phantom opened a year apart.

Don’t let any fast-talking marketing guru sell you on billboards, direct mail, or remarketing as the secret to selling tickets. It is much simpler.  The best marketing in the world is creating a great product.

Yes, we’ve gotten a lot of attention over the past few years thanks to Hamilton, The Obamas attending Broadway shows, Glee, Smash, Live Telecasts, and more . . . but that attention wouldn’t convert to sales unless we were creating shows that people wanted to see.We’re rising to the challenge, and that’s something we should be proud of.

Want more of my analysis of our business?  I write five exclusive articles a month on marketing, our grosses, and more, solely for my Pros.  Click here for more.

Broadway Grosses w/e 4/29/2018: We’re down but does anyone care today?

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending April 29, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

Broadway Grosses w/e 4/22/2018: It’s coming down to the wire.

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending April 22, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

Podcast Episode 154 – Tony Award Winning Writer, Lisa Kron

When Tony Award Winner Lisa Kron was a theater major in college, she was told she wouldn’t succeed . . . because she wasn’t “thin, pretty, or straight enough.”

Thankfully, Lisa didn’t let that stop her, and she went on to write and star in (!) Well, and write the Tony Award-winning lyrics and book to Fun Home on Broadway, one of the most unexpected hits Broadway has seen . . . ever.

Her passion and determination helped prove to this business and the world, that being unique conquers the status quo, every effin’ time.

Lisa and I talked about her entrepreneurial and unexpected journey in the theater including . . .

  • Her #1 rule to success:  if a door opened, and she was scared, she forced herself to step through it. (Words to live by.)
  • Why her early writing horrified her.  And how she got better.
  • How performing stand-up helped hone her stage writing.
  • Being mistaken for a seat-filler at the Tony Awards . . . the year she was nominated!
  • Who young writers should be trying to connect to in order to have a successful career (hint: it’s NOT who you think).
  • Why trying to increase diversity in terms of gender and race is like looking for your keys. (This is such a brilliant analogy – only a Tony Award-winning writer could come up with it, so make sure you listen.)
Lisa’s success story is the stuff that musicals are made of . . . an underdog is kept down by society, so she finds her own path, and proves them all wrong.

Aren’t we all so lucky that she persevered, so she can make more musicals!

Click here for the link to my podcast with Lisa!

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

Download it here.

Is Long The New Short on Broadway?

“Do you know the four best words in the English Language?” said one Tony Voter to another.

“No, what are the four best words in the English Language?” asked the second.

“90 minutes.  No intermission.”

Ba-dum-dum.

This is a real joke I’ve heard over a dozen times over the last few years, from industry and non-industry folks alike.  And there’s no question that shorter shows have been “in” as the attention span of our consumers has shrunk since the days of the three-act play.

In fact, we proved that shows have been getting shorter in this post (complete with graphs and everything!).

And then there’s this season.

We’ve got a two-part, over seven-hour Angels in America that’s doing heavenly numbers.  Then there’s the two-part, over two-and-half-hours each Harry Potter that’s working its box office magic.  Not to mention the nearly three-hour musical revival up at the Lincoln Center and another ol‘ classic carouseling in at a similar time down here, plus that almost 4 hour Iceman has cometh again.

And they’re all doing just fine.

It would be a common sense thought for a writer or producer in 2018 to think, “My show has to be short.” But this season is a perfect reminder that there are no hard and steadfast rules in the theater, or in any business, for that matter.  The moment you think one way, here comes a disruptor to make you think another.

So if your show is in 16 parts and runs 13 and a half weeks, that’s fine.

It just means that your show has to be that much better, and your word of mouth that much stronger, in order for you to overcome this pain point for a potential customer.

 

P.S. Want to learn how to write a musical? Click here for all the tips, tools and training you need.

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