GUEST BLOG: TKTS, Street Teams, and the $100 Million Market No One Knows About

Broadway continues to do big business and is only trending up, but there’s a segment of ticket sales that has largely been ignored. Pre-sales are guaranteed money in the bank (music to any Producer’s ear), but what if I told you there was another segment of the market that rakes in over $100 million annually for producers? I’m talking about same-day ticket sales at TKTS.

Run by the not-for-profit Theatre Development Fund, TKTS provides discounted same-day Broadway and off-Broadway tickets. It’s an iconic and vital part of the industry and is built into many theatre producer business models.

The most popular booth is in Times Square on 47th/7th Avenue, with satellite booths at Lincoln Center and South Street Seaport. Accounting for 12% of all tickets sold (Broadway League Demographics 2016-2017), this equates to over 1.4 million tickets and $104 million returned to the shows. That’s a lot of tickets.

And yet, promotion at these booths often comes as an afterthought. There is a captive market of up to 30,000 theatre-goers every week waiting to buy tickets, many of whom haven’t decided which show they want to see. A proper street team is a pivotal tool in getting these people into your show.

Broadway Crew is on the front lines, serving as the face of your brand and engaging with your customers one on one on a daily basis. People come to New York wanting to see the best live theatre in the world and TDF has done an amazing job in making TKTS the most visible source in the city for quality, discounted tickets. But a lot of the time these patrons have no idea what is playing, how everything works, or even what to see.

So what makes a good team? It’s so much more than just handing out flyers. It’s creating the proper soft-selling environment, determining customer needs, and recommending based on their pain and pleasure points. Not everyone is going to want to see every show, but the proper team can customize the pitch to the individual and find the parts of your show that appeal to them.

We founded Broadway Crew in an effort to elevate the street team and the same day ticket-buying experience. No one wants to be hard sold into something. They want to work together with a team member who helps them find their own way. The theatre-going experience begins the moment you decide to see a show and continues to the final bows. At Broadway Crew, we aim to make the decision-making process an enjoyable one, and we work hard to accomplish this every day.

In short, money spent on street teams is a tiny, but vital slice of your marketing budget pie. We’ve seen our clients returning 100x their investment in ticket sales. It’s a no-brainer, right?

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Sam and Jackson founded Broadway Crew in an effort to elevate the same-day ticket buying experience by making street teams into effective sales teams and prioritizing customer service and employee happiness. We want to do things the right way by making sure our employees are happy and our clients and their customers are happy. By focusing on people, everybody wins. Let us know how we’re doing! Drop us a line at www.BroadwayCrew.com or find us on Instagram @BroadwayCrew and on Twitter @BwayCrew.

Broadway Grosses w/e 9/30/2018: Out of the Woods?

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending September 30, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

Episode 161 – Tony Award Winner Richard Maltby, Jr.

When Richard Maltby, Jr. was asked to put together a revue for Manhattan Theatre Club, he said “yes,” even though he didn’t know what that actually meant.

But he did it, and not too much later he was collecting a Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical for Ain’t Misbehavin’, a revue that he conceived.

He went on to do more of those, including one of his own, a work with longtime collaborator David Shire, called Closer Than Ever, which was what all the kids listened to and auditioned with back in the 90’s (including this former Actor turned Producer/Blogger).

Revues weren’t the only thing up his writing sleeves, however. Richard wrote lyrics for Miss Saigon (ever heard of it) and Baby, as well as the book and lyrics for The Pirate Queen and many more.

We talk about all the huge hats he has worn over the years, as well as . . .

  • Now what? (What to do when your first show out is a big fat success)
  • Why the collaboration process on Miss Saigon was one of the favorites of his career.
  • How the revue has morphed into the jukebox musical, and what he thinks of the current lot.
  • An old idea for new writers to get attention that still works today.
  • What he thinks of the new “style” of musical theater.

Tune in to this week’s episode below!

Click here to listen to my podcast with Richard!

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

Download it here.

My 5 Friday Finds: Indie Streaming, Something for Actors, and more.

TGIF, y’all, and welcome to my weekly wrap up, when I let you know about five things that caught my eye during the last five days.

1. Streaming goes independent.

Composer/Lyricist Paul Gordon, who wrote Daddy Long Legs (which was the first Broadway or Off-Broadway show to be live-streamed) has taken streaming into his own hands and formed a company called Streaming Musicals to do just that.

And right now you can catch his beautiful production of Emma online for less than the cost of a movie.

What has me interested in this model is that Emma has never played NYC. Yet something like Streaming Musicals could give it the same type of exposure, if not more. Paul could be on to a whole new world of debuting musicals to audiences, theaters around the country, and more.

2.  Need to get to a celeb?

Gatekeepers abound in this business, which is why this little tool comes in handy for tracking down agents, managers, lawyers, and even some direct contacts. Check out the aptly named ContactAnyCelebrity.com if you want to make sure a star gets your offer or invite. I’ve used it. And it works.

3.  A New One Man Show Called The New One

Mike Birbiglia’s first show, Sleepwalk with Me, played Off Broadway. His new show, The New Onewill play ON Broadway. That’s not just because Mike is a bigger name now, who can sell out a run Off-Broadway on the announcement,  sell books, and star in TV shows.

It’s because Mike’s audience is easier to find with modern marketing methods, and as the Hello Again guys proved a couple of years ago, these half stand up/half theater pieces can make money and make it fast.

Expect more of ’em. And go see The New One. I saw a reading and was laughing out loud. At a reading.

4.  Required Reading for Non-Musical Actors Who Want To Do Musicals

Andrew Gerle music directed the first reading I ever did in this city. And what he did with those actors and the arrangements amazed me.

He’s written a musical fundamentals book for Actors that I wish I had when I was singing and dancing. Because I’m sure I would have done it a bit better.

5.  The Ford-Kavanaugh Crisis Made Me Think . . .

Of course, it made me think a lot of things, but the one positive takeaway I had was . . . is there anything more gripping than a courtroom drama? Aren’t we ready for a new one on Broadway?

Or is someone out there prepping Oleanna for a revival?

How Broadway shows can take advantage of a Fall opening for the Tony Awards.

Back in 2009, I wrote a blog that proved that shows that opened in the Spring had a better shot at winning a Tony Award over shows that opened in the Fall. You can read that blog here.

Then, in 2015, I updated it with more recent data . . . and found the same conclusion. Check that one out here.

So, naturally, the takeaway is . . . if you want to stack the Tony odds in your favor, open in the Spring.

But not so fast, Captain Jack. It ain’t that easy.

These days, choosing “when” you open is even more difficult than choosing “where” you open. Getting a theater is hard enough, but if you manage to get one, choosing your start date, even your season, can be even more challenging since so many shows are willing to jump in and open at any time. (Add in the schedule of an in-demand creative team, and it’s amazing shows happen at all.)

What do you do if you have a fall opening, and you really want/need a Tony Award in order for your show to be a success?

Fret not, because I believe there is some serious upside to a Fall opening nowadays, you just have to make sure you take advantage of what you’ve got to work with (it was actually a Fall opening for Once on this Island that I believe is one of the reasons we were able to win the big one).

Here are three advantages to a Fall opening:

  1. Tony Voters can see you twice.

It has become commonplace for shows that open earlier in the season to invite Voters back to see their show again much closer to the voting deadline. And if you can get the voters to take you up on this . . . well, two impressions are much better than one. And if your show opens in April, there ain’t no way you’re getting these folks to come back again. Not only will they have just seen you, but they’ve got 140 other shows to see before the deadline. So forget that. I like the strategy of inviting voters early, and then inviting them back again, even before nominations come out, so they have more time in their schedule to set up a second viewing.

  1. You start out at the front of the pack.

So few shows open in the Fall these days that if you’re one of those shows, you’re like a horse that bursts out of the starting gate to an early lead. And every show after has to top you. You set the pace. Grabbing that early lead can put you at a big advantage, rather than opening right in the midst of when all the other shows are opening, when voters have more to compare you to. Just remember, if you do grab that early lead, you gotta work really hard to keep it. Because by opening earlier, your race is longer, which means your horse could tire a bit early (metaphor translation = you’re going to need more marketing and advertising to keep you ahead).

  1. Your Tony Campaign can start right after you open.

While our Tony Awards campaigns are not as elaborate/expensive as Hollywood’s campaigns to win an Oscar, they’re getting there. The Spring shows barely have time to think about a campaign before they have to launch theirs. But you, you with the Fall show, you can not only design your campaign, but you can launch it much, much earlier . . . not only through advertising but by positioning your shows/performers at industry events, seeding press stories about your various elements, etc. Ask a politician running for office if they’d rather have 6 months to campaign for office or one month and they’ll tell you they want twelve months. Use the time to tell your story of why your show deserves a Tony.

Statistics may tell us the ways things have been, but that doesn’t mean they have to be the way they are. And if you can’t change your show’s schedule, change your thinking about that schedule and find a way to make it work for you.

– – – – –

We’ve got a ton of Tony Winners speaking at my SuperConference this year. Hear from them firsthand how they got that trophy and pick up tips on how you can start your path to the podium too.  Click here.

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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