April 16, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

From the announcement of the first show to open in NYC to top theatres acting to root out ‘system failure’ of racism to Lin Manuel Miranda and Mayor DiBlasio opening up a vaccination center in Times Square. . . here’s what TheaterMakers were talking about this week . . .

 

1 – PERFECT CRIME to Reopen as First Show with Equity-Approved Cast in New York

It has been officially approved and announced by the Actors’ Equity Association that Perfect Crime will reopen. The show is set to open beginning April 17th and will be the first show to open with an Equity-approved cast in New York City.

Read more: broadwayworld.com

 

2 – ‘The heat is on’: top theatres act to root out ‘system failure’ of racism

“The Young Vic and Royal Court theatres have entered into a process that aims to root out systemic racism from their venues. Both London institutions have signed a partnership with the social enterprise Sour Lemons that will interrogate the internal structures that uphold institutional racism, raise awareness and accountability, and listen to staff’s experiences of racism inside the buildings.”

Read more: theguardian.com

 

3 – ‘Bridgerton The Musical’ TikTok Creators Abigail Barlow & Emily Bear Sign With CAA

Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, creators of the viral TikTok smash Bridgerton The Musical, have signed with CAA and Kraft-Engel Management.” The duo first came into the spotlight because of their viral Bridgerton-inspired number in January. They’ve been documenting the journey on TikTok, with their songs and performances reaching more than 165 million views with fans all over the world.

Read More: deadline.com

 

4 – T. Fellowship to be renamed in honor of Hal Prince

The T. Fellowship has been renamed the Prince Fellowship in honor of its founder, the late Hal Prince. The 2021 Prince Fellowship, which will open up applications at the end of April, will run from September 2021 through August 2022. 

Read more: broadwaynews.com

 

5 – Lin-Manuel Miranda, de Blasio open Broadway vaccination site in Times Square

A vaccination center was opened on Monday in Times Square for all Broadway workers. Appointments will be reserved for the community of theatermakers living in NY and working on Broadway. The center will be staffed by fellow community members, including “Wicked” company manager Susan Sampliner.  

Read More: broadwaynews.com

 

Fun on a Friday: The Late Show spoofed Hamilton with a ‘My Shot’ vaccine parody

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The answer I HOPE to hear when I ask ticket buyers what got them to buy a ticket.

As the theater comes crawling back to life, marketing is going to be more important than ever.

Every dollar we spend, and every dollar that comes back, is going to be 10x as important as it was. We’re all going to have a bunch of startups. And startups demand more attention to details than ever before.

I’m a big believer in audience research. I became obsessed when I attended a focus group about the Bernadette Peters revival of Gypsy I worked on in 2002. (Some of the people we talked to didn’t realize it was a different production from the Tyne Daly Gypsy from the early 90s!  It taught me that just because you eat, sleep and breathe your show and all of Broadway, doesn’t mean your audience does!)

The most important question to ask your audience is the following:

How did you hear about “INSERT NAME OF SHOW”?

That’s it. So if you WANT to do research but DON’T want to do complicated surveys or focus groups, you can learn a ton with JUST that one question.

Tracking the path your customers take to buying a ticket is how to understand . . .

1 – What is working . . . so you can double down on it

2 – What isn’t working . . . so you can turn it off.

So what’s the one answer I LOVE to get every time I ask this question?

When I started out and needed an ego boost, I LOVED hearing that the customer heard about my show through an advertising buy I authorized (a billboard, etc.), or through a marketing stunt I came up with.

But then I realized that my favorite answer was . . .

“I don’t know.”

This meant two things:

1. It meant that they most likely heard about it through word of mouth, which is the most important form of advertising.  It’s the most effective, and it’s the cheapest.  Getting WOM, especially in an industry with challenging economics like Broadway, is essential for the show to survive.

2. Not knowing what morsel of marketing got them to buy a ticket means your marketing is working under the radar.  And that’s the best form of marketing. It’s working without them knowing it’s working. It’s branding.

Now, unfortunately, there is no quick hack to getting this kind of response.

You have to do great work . . . and do it for a long time.

And that’s the quickest way to NOT be a hack.

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If you’re looking for marketing tips, check out the marketing course included with your membership in The TheaterMakers Studio.


 

3 Reasons Why Crowdfunding Did NOT Take Off on Broadway

It has been 10 years (!) since I crowdfunded Godspell. It remains one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in this business.
It took two years to put together. It took three law firms. I had to pass a securities exam. Oh, and let me tell you when this SEC slaps your wrist in the midst of your offering, you lose some sleep.
But, like most difficult things, it was also one of the best things I ever did for my business. And my life.
Not only did we fund the production, and help launch the careers of some superstars, but I’m also still friends with many of “People of Godspell”, which is what we called our Producers and Investors (we had over 730 of them!).
We created a family. And it still exists. (That’s pretty common with Godspell, actually, as anyone in it can attest.)
After we successfully crowdfunded the show, using an old regulation called a “Reg A,” Congress passed The Jobs Act . . . which made it MUCH easier for businesses to crowdfund. (Bad timing on my part!)
Everyone predicted an explosion of this type of microfinancing in all industries . . . Broadway and Off-Broadway included.
And it didn’t happen.
I don’t know of ONE Broadway or Off-Broadway production to utilize the new “Regulation CF” since it was passed.
Why?
There are three reasons why.
1. The max money you can raise
Regulation CF was designed for small businesses, so there’s a $5mm cap on how much you can raise. That immediately knocks out 99% of Broadway musicals, leaving only Broadway plays.
Now, ALL Off-Broadway shows are (or should be) well under $5mm. So, this regulation should be in “play” for any commercial producer looking to crowdfund an Off-Broadway show. Still, I don’t know of anyone who has done it. Yet. See below for why.
2. It ain’t cheap to raise small amounts of money.
In our business, there are a limited # of vendors in each area of expertise. There are 3-4 advertising agencies. 2-3 accounting firms. And there are more, but still a limited number of lawyers.
And our lawyers don’t specialize in this . . . which means you’ll need to hire another attorney who does. And that adds to your budget. And smaller businesses don’t want to add to a budget that they were concerned about raising in the first place.
3. You have to work even harder to raise less money.
I remember a consulting session I had once with a writer who launched a Kickstarter campaign. He wondered why he hadn’t raised all this money in the first five days. When I asked him what he had (added) done to promote it, he said, “Nothing. Don’t people just find it in Kickstarter?”
Like anything, just because you build it, doesn’t mean ANYONE will come. You have to spread the word about your offering. And when you’re raising small amounts of money at a time, you have to spread the word every further. We spent a ton of time and money marketing the Godspell offering. That, plus the press we get (that’s where the SEC got saucy), plus my own network, is what led to a successful raise.
Most people don’t want to work that hard. Because it’s true, it IS easier to raise bigger money from fewer people. (That’s why the point of crowdfunding shouldn’t be to raise the money – it should be to raise a marketing army – because all those investors with skin in the game, will shout your show’s name from their e-rooftops!)
(By the way – I gave Kickstarter guys some marketing nuggets and the good news is – he reached his total with three days to spare.)
Wait. Was that three reasons already? But I’m not done. So here’s a BONUS reason why crowdfunding hasn’t taken off on or Off-Broadway.
4. Producers think it makes them look desperate.

This is the one that we need to get over. By not allowing the small investor to participate in the making of theater, we’re ignoring a huge portion of the theatergoing population. Small donors are what got Barack Obama elected. Small investors are what brought down giant hedge funds with the GameStop saga.

And by embracing small investors, whether through crowdfunding or by Producers dividing up $50,000 units into more reasonable numbers, we could launch more new shows, more new voices . . . and market them as well.
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If you’re looking for tips on crowdfunding, check out our 8 Tips for a Kick A$$ Kickstarter here, or get my book on How To Raise Money For The Arts Or For Anything.

On the anniversary: Dr. Kenny Dipchand Hasija 10/13/29 – 4/12/20

Dear “Kenny” . . . as you asked me to call you since I could speak. Not dad, no. Because you wanted me to know you were as much a friend as a father.
That’s one of the reasons that today, the one-year anniversary of your passing, is harder than I ever thought it would be. Because for the last twelve months, it felt like two of the closest people in my life were gone.
I know, I know. You’re not gone. And you never will be. I’ll never forget when you and my mother divorced and you told me we would always be together. Always. “We might not be in the same house or in the same state or even on the same continent, Kenneth, but anywhere we go in our lives, we are connected. Always.” And that we are. Because I can hear your support and encouragement with everything I do.
I do want to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we never got to go to The Met. I’m sorry that this damn pandemic didn’t allow me to hold your hand when you finally left us on that Easter morning. I’m sorry that it has not been safe for me to travel to your childhood home in India and to spread your ashes in the Ganges as you told me you wanted. I know you understand. You always did. But know that as soon as I can, I will lay your spirit to rest in those waters, so that you may join your mother, and your young brother, and be at peace in the land you left so long ago.
And yes, yes, I know what you’re going to ask. And I will. I promise. I said, I promise! (Now, I know where I get my stubborn side.) And when I do it, I will owe it ALL to you.
Rest, my father and my friend. Thank you for what you did for me while you were here, and what I know you are doing for me, for your granddaughter (your “genetic code” as you said), and for my whole family, from high above us all.
Love,
Kenneth Anjum Hasija
In remembrance of Dr. Kenny Dipchand Hasija 10/13/29 – 4/12/20

Podcast Episode #228: How I know and how you should know what shows to do.

ESTIMATED LISTENING TIME OF THIS PODCAST EPISODE:  11 Minutes

 

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DESCRIPTION:

“Why?”

It’s a common question.

“Why did you produce that show, Ken?”

A lot of people think it has to do we a google-like algorithm, or focus group results, or the “perfect budget.”

While I look at all of those things . . . it’s usually AFTER I decide I’m going to produce a show.

Want to know my super-secret system and what it has in common with this female billionaire?

Listen in.

And I advise you follow it when choosing what theater you choose to make.

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