The ONE Thing We Can All Do To Develop Future Audiences.

Building the audience of the future is not only a passion of mine, it’s a necessity.

I plan on producing shows for the rest of my days (and somehow I’m going to figure out a way that my daughter has to at least dabble in daddy’s biz after I’ve gone off to The Great White Way in the Sky).  And without an audience . . . without customers . . . there’s no way this business that I love so much (and also depend on) survives.

But we don’t want it to just survive for the next 1,000 years, we want it to thrive.  Right?

So, we gotta think long term.

Recently I was asked a super specific question by a reporter that never got into print . . .  partly because I blabbed on way too long about it – but hey, that’s why I have a blog, right – so I can blog-blab as many characters as I want!

The question was . . . “If there was one thing, only one thing, that you could do to help develop the future audience, what would it be?”

Before I answer . . . take a moment and you think about your answer to the same question.

What would you do?

TV ads like this one?  Put a megawatt star in a Broadway show?  Beg Lin Manuel Miranda to write Hamilton II (I know, I know, he died at the end, but if anyone could figure out how to make it work, it would be Lin).

All of these are good marketing initiatives, but if we’re looking to develop the next generation of audiences and beyond, what I would do is plant a little bit of a longer-gestating seed.

If I could only do one thing, I would do this . . .

Encourage participation in the theater.

I’d focus on getting more kids to perform in their school plays . . . elementary kids, middle schools, and of course, more high school musicals.

I’d work with community theaters to expand their outreach and involve more citizens from their cities and towns.

I’d develop plans with regional theaters to include children’s theater companies that use local actors.

And I’d build a better bridge between Broadway and every single theater around the world.

Because we depend on them more than we know.

Think about it . . . where did you discover your love of the theater?

My guess is it’s one of two ways . . . your parents brought you to see a show when you were a kid . . . or more likely, somewhere you participated in the theater somehow.

When people participate in any activity, they become more passionate about it, especially something with as much community as the theater.

And when you get that kind of positive hands-on engagement at an early age, the participators will be 100x more likely to attend/support/invest in the theater at a later age.

You know what industry does this well?  My only other non-familial passion . . . the golf industry.  Watch the golf channel sometime.  Half of the ads are about how to improve your own golf game.  Or to try and get you out to play.

Because “play”-ing makes you more passionate.

If I had a general Broadway ad budget, I’d place PSAs not about buying Broadway tickets (because there are millions and millions of theater fans who aren’t near Broadway right now) but encouraging them to get out and join their local community theater . . . to take an acting class at a community college . . . to take their kid to a dance class.

The future development of the Broadway audience, as well as artists and investors, is in the encouragement of kids and people of all ages to participate in the theater however they can.

I know I can’t wait to walk my little girl on a stage for the first time.

 

 

GUEST BLOG: Three Tips to Improve Your Music Notation by Peter Flom

In creating music notation for the stage, our goal is to empower successful performances. Sometimes our unintentional bad habits throw up barriers to this success. Today we’ll identify some of these habits as well as quick ways to correct them.

 

Beaming, Rests and the Invisible Barline

Beaming and rest choices are often ignored by the lazy copyist, but a little extra effort here will lead to better performances.

The meter of a measure must always inform the notation. Every time signature implies a grouping of beats, which determine beaming and rest choices. Take the following excerpt as an example. Which is clearer?

Most working musicians could play the first example correctly after some practice time, but ideally we’d like these charts to be sight-read, as is typical on the gig. By contrast, the second example clearly defines the halfway point in the measure, which is a great aid to readers. This is a concept known as the “Invisible Barline,” and is vital to writing in an even meter.

Additionally, notice how the beaming has been changed to outline each beat in the measure. This practice makes it easier to subdivide rhythms while reading the piece. Proper beaming technique is especially important in complex meters:

The engraver’s rests must also support the performer by outlining the meter. I find each of the following measures to be very difficult to read: Here is the same example with appropriate rests and beaming:

Note that each syncopation is split into multiple rests. Again, this helps the performer subdivide rhythms more easily. When mixed rests are needed, always choose rests which outline the beat appropriately.

 

Writing Chords

Another challenge for many writers is using chord notation. While this is a large topic, here are some basic guidelines to remember when building parts for the rhythm section.

First and foremost, develop a system that works for your performers. If your musicians prefer to see a ø7 chord suffix instead of min7 b5, then you need to swallow your pride and write the chord they want – even if you believe it’s wrong. Never sacrifice a good performance in the name of being “right.”

Just make sure to stay consistent – don’t write “C-7” in one measure, “Cm7” in the next and “Cmin7” later.

 

Comping Notation

Suffixes aren’t the only important part of writing chords; you must also pay attention to notation in the staff. While the lazy copyist may not see the value in writing notation during a comping part, the performers often need it badly, and each member of the rhythm section expects different conventions.

When in doubt, keep the notation simple. Here are some of my rules of thumb for writing rhythm section parts.

  • If you know exactly what notes you want them to play: write the notes in the staff. (This should be rare.)

  • If you only have a few specific notes: write the rhythms in the staff and only the specific notes you want. (This is common for guitar players, who often remember voicings based on the top note of the chord.)

  • If you don’t care what voicing they use but you have a specific rhythm: write rhythmic slash notation. (Common in a score with ‘hits’ that the band plays together.)

  • If you want them to improvise a comping part: Use slash notation. (This is the most common and easiest way to notate chords, but your performer may not know exactly what to play.)

Being a guitarist, I wrote all of these examples for a guitar part. However, the same rules apply to other instruments. Typically, the bass part is written with a sample bassline and chord symbols – that way, the bass player has an idea of what groove to play, but they can freely ad lib fills when appropriate.

You can find part two of this post – where we look at placing notation on the page – as well as my other tips to improve music notation, on the Finale blog.
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Peter Flom is the production manager in the repertoire development department at MakeMusic. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Peter has previously worked at KMA Studios in New York City, and in MakeMusic’s Customer Success department. He now spends most of his days developing new content for Finale and SmartMusic, and has worked with many publishers along the way. He also is a freelance arranger and engraver, and plays a mean guitar when no one’s watching.

Broadway Grosses w/e 8/05/2018: Rain or Shine

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending August 5, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

Will THIS Create a Pricing War on Broadway?

Big changes are afoot at one of the biggest ticket sellers on Broadway.

Starting yesterday, it was announced that the TKTS outlet at Lincoln Center no longer lists shows at 50% off, or 40% off, or any percent off.

Instead, the digital display will list the actual price of each show’s ticket . . . $199, $75, $60, etc.

Provided this test goes well, expect to see it put into effect at the primary TKTS location in the middle of Times Square, where it will have a massive impact on how tickets will be sold.

Here are just three things listing prices instead of percentages will do:

  • Speed up the purchase decision. No longer will customers have to ask for a price (or do the math) when they walk up to a window.
  • Give lower priced shows (hello Off-Broadway) a way to stand out against their high-priced competitors instead of appearing like they are the same price (two shows at 50% off sounds like the same price even though one may be half as much).
  • Eliminate the idea that the tickets are being sold at a discount. If it’s a price, it’s just a price, not a % off.  And we continue our slow but steady transition to the pricing strategies used by the airline industry, which has different prices for every day and every flight, instead of discounting every day and every flight.

I’m a super fan of this idea and applaud TDF for taking the first step in what I’m sure is quite a difficult transition.

But expect us Producers to start examining everyone else’s prices much more closely before we send tickets to “the booth.”

Because if a consumer has two shows he wants to see and can’t decide between them . . . and one of them is even $2 less per ticket?  Guess which show wins.

#PricingWarAlert

The exact price at the TKTS booth isn’t something that the Broadway Producer contemplates much right now.  Because the consumer isn’t comparing.

But provided the Lincoln Center test goes well (and I’m betting the price of a couple of premium tickets that it will), we’ll all have to start doing it in the future.

It’ll be a challenge, but it’s better for our consumer and for our industry, so I’m game.

You agree?

 

GUEST BLOG: Greening the Great White Way by Emily Harrington

10 years ago, more than 250 theatre professionals interested in making theatre more environmentally friendly gathered at a Town Hall organized by David Stone (producer of Wicked) and his team at the Gershwin Theatre. After an inspiring keynote speech from Allen Hershkowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Wicked team and many participants discussed the need to make theatre greener and what they were doing to date.

 

Building on the Town Hall, The Broadway League formed an ad hoc committee, now known as the Broadway Green Alliance (BGA), which was officially launched in November 2008 at an event with then­ New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The BGA’s mission has always been to educate, motivate, and inspire the entire theatre community and its patrons to adopt environmentally friendlier practices. Since 2008, the BGA has continued to grow; it is now also a fiscal program of Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS and, along with Julie’s Bicycle in the UK, a founding member of the International Green Theatre Alliance.

 

The BGA’s work is built on the recognition that environmental issues are caused by the cumulative effect of millions of small actions and that impactful change comes from each of us doing a bit better every day. BGA participants don’t claim to be “green,” but all work to be “greener” than they were. BGA members, actors, producers, designers, and other theatre professionals and fans, who have made greener choices each day, have produced remarkable results and inspired actions across the US and internationally.

 

Here are just a few of the ways that Broadway and theatre beyond have gotten greener in the past 10 years!

 

  • All Broadway theatres participate in the BGA, and nearly all shows have a volunteer Green Captain, taking the lead in making their productions a little bit greener. Green Captains include members of both the cast and crew and share information about BGA initiatives while working to improve the practices of their productions. Past Green Captains included Tony Award winners Bryan Cranston (All the Way), Audra McDonald (Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill), Ruthie Ann Miles (The King and I), and Sophie Okonedo (A Raisin in the Sun), and many nominees, including Lauren Ambrose and Mark Rylance in 2018. On Earth Day 2018, this year’s Green Captains came together to share their #GreenResolutions. These “Green Resolutions” are commitments, like New Year’s resolutions, but they run from Earth Day 2018 to Earth Day 2019. You can watch their video here and find a list of current Broadway Green Captains here.

 

  • All theatres on Broadway now share information about green practices and have made many improvements. The most visible change is the upgrading of marquee and roof sign lights at Broadway theatres to energy­efficient LED and CFLs. This one change has saved energy, money, and over 700 tons of carbon a year. All Broadway theatres now have recycling programs and many use Energy Star appliances. Other improvements include using environmentally-­friendly cleaning products and dilution centers, using energy­-efficient indoor lighting, aggressively insulating heating pipes, installing bike racks, and coating roofs with reflective paint to reduce heat absorption.

 

  • Thirsty company members at many shows drink filtered water from reusable bottles, eliminating many thousands of plastic water bottles backstage.

 

  • Since Broadway began using microphones, productions have needed batteries. To be certain that microphones wouldn’t fail during a show, the standard Broadway practice had been to put new batteries into each microphone before every performance. Wicked switched to rechargeable batteries, reducing annual battery consumption from 15,000 batteries to 96, saving money and the environment without compromising performance. Many other productions around the world, including in Australia and in the West End, have also made this switch, often after hearing of the Wicked team’s success.

 

  • Recently, Jujamcyn committed to eliminating plastic straws from its theatres and now only offers compostable straws at all of its concession stands.

 

  • Touring shows participating in the Touring Green program have offset more than 25,000 tons of carbon emissions from moving their equipment. Participating shows have voluntarily invested 1.5 cents per mile in wind power, methane digester, and other projects offered through Native Energy.

 

  • The theatre community beyond Broadway has embraced this movement. The Off­-Broadway community is very active; there are Green Captains on college campuses across the country, touring shows and venues are adding Touring Green Captains, and BGA chapters have sprung up in Chicago and Philadelphia.

 

Most of these actions began with an individual or group trying something new, igniting similar action and improvements by others. The BGA helps make sure that the community learns of past and new innovations so that each success leads to others. Please let us know the small or large steps you take so we can share innovations with the thousands of professionals interested in greening theatre on the Great White Way and beyond. You can email us at Green@Broadway.org, visit our website BroadwayGreen.com, or follow us on Twitter @BroadwayGreen or Instagram @BroadwayGreenAlliance.

 

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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