Podcast Episode 197: No “Ordinary” Composer/Lyricist, Mr. Adam Gwon

One of the super fun parts about being in this biz for a bit is that you get to watch the careers of folks you admire go from someone that no one is talking about to someone that everyone is talking about.

And that someone is today’s guest, Mr. Adam Gwon, who broke through with his musical, Ordinary Days and is about to open Scotland, PA at the Roundabout Theater (which I’m proud to be helping along the way).

Adam is on everyone’s “watch list,” like a financial advisor might be watching a stock, just waiting for it to turn into the next Apple.

We sat down with only a microphone between us to talk about his status as a writer-to-watch, as well as . . .

  • How he transitioned from writing 3-minute songs to 3-hour musicals.
  • Choosing a collaborator:  The true story of the “3 blind dates” he went on before he made the choice to write Scotland, PA with Michael Mitnick.
  • How not having an answer to a question led him to create Ordinary Days.
  • Does Broadway mean you’re a success AKA what it’s like to still be “emerging” despite being produced all over the world?
  • What it’s like being a Tony Award Nominator

Enjoy the podcast, and then, go enjoy Scotland, PA, currently in previews NOW!

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

This week’s #SongwriterOfTheWeek is Anna Jacobs and Michael R. Jackson!  Check out “I Want To Choose” from their musical TEETH at the end of this episode. If you enjoyed the outro music in this episode, go on over to www.annakjacobs.com/ & www.thelivingmichaeljackson.com for more tunes.

This week’s episode is brought to you by TERRY KNICKERBOCKER STUDIO. Terry Knickerbocker Studio offers a two-year acting conservatory, workshops, studio rentals, one-on-one coaching, beginner acting classes, and the best actor training in New York, period. While the conservatory training is based on the Meisner Technique, Terry Knickerbocker Studio offers a holistic approach to actor training with a commitment to nurturing the total actor: Mind, Body, and Soul. For more information, please visit www.TerryKnickerbockerStudio.com.

What “Google Glass” has to do with the launch of your show.

Do you remember Google Glass?

It’s ok if you don’t.  Glass didn’t last long, even though Google itself thought it was going to be the next iPhone and would revolutionize how people “see” the world.

Glass was a wearable Star Trek looking device that gave you a camera and some simple google apps (maps, etc.) right in your eyesight.  It responded to voice commands and a simple tap, and there were rumors that it wouldn’t be too long until you’d be able to walk down the street with your Glass on, and it would facially recognize people as they passed.

And it flopped.  Big time.

I had one.  Two actually, being the early adopter that I am (after I did this, a lot of tech companies put me on their list to get stuff first).

And when I picked mine up at the Glass headquarters (seriously) and put it on for the first time, I remember asking my sales rep (who was more like a brainwashed Google rep), “Do you really think people are going to wear this down the street?”  “Oh yes,” he replied, sounding somewhat like a robot, “The Glass revolution is already underway. And it’s here to stay.”

Those Glass headquarters are now a Tesla dealership, I think.

What blows my mind as I look back at the launch and crash of Glass is two things:

  1. Google, one of the smartest, forward-thinking, revolutionizing companies, got it really, really, wrong.

  2. Google, one of the biggest brands in the world, with the ability to put a marketing message in front of millions and millions of people, couldn’t make a success out of a product that people didn’t want.

I got pitched a show recently, with an admittedly A-list creative team, and big brand as the underlying source material.  And the Producer actually said the words, “This can’t miss!”

While I admired the confidence, I passed because of the arrogance.

Because If Google can miss?  Anyone can miss. And to think that your pedigree and built-in-marketing-machine is enough is one of the biggest mistakes any Producer can make.

A brand and a team yes, even a star, can help mitigate your risk, but it can’t eliminate it.  And the most important ingredient in your show is your story.

And the irony is, if you find a story that captivates your audience, they won’t even care about the brand or who put it together.

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Are you committed to advancing your career? Are you interested in expanding your network? Do you consider yourself a “do-er”?

If you answered yes to any one of these questions, then join me and the best in the business at The Producer’s Perspective Super Conference for a weekend of learning and networking on November 16th and 17th in NYC! Check out the full speaker and panelists list here! I hope to see you there . . . Be sure to say hi when you see me 🙂

Broadway Grosses w/e 9/29/2019: Leaves are falling, but sales are not!

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending September 29, 2019.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

Podcast Episode 196: Actor, Writer, and all around Awesome Inspiration, Susan Blackwell

 

Seeing [Title of Show] in its early days is one of the top 10 theater-going experiences of my life.  It was so obvious that those four funny folks were living their best lives on that stage, as they played themselves trying to make a musical.

I knew all of the performers . . . except one.  Susan Blackwell.  She didn’t have a ton of musical credits.  And her take on life, love and the pursuit of musical theater was a little different than the others.

But by the end of her signature number, “Die Vampire Die,” I just wanted to hang out with her . . . all the time.

Took me a little bit until our paths crossed, but cross they did . . . and with a microphone in front of us!

And lucky you, you now get to e-hang out with her by listening to this podcast, where we talk about:

  • Finding the time to pursue your dream, while working your day job . . . like literally while your boss is standing over your desk as you work on lyrics!
  • What “dollar-cost-averaging” has to do with a career in the theater.
  • Life of a freelance artist and how she structures her day for success.
  • Why being a multi-hyphenate and focusing on many things is important to her, and should be to you too.
  • How did [Title of Show] happen – and what’s it like now watching people play her!

Tune in and enjoy this inspiring artrepreneurial episode and when you’re done, turn that dial over to Susan’s new podcast (created with her wonder twin, Laura Camien), The Spark File, which is now live!

Enjoy!

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

This week’s #SongwriterOfTheWeek is Jacinth Greywoode (@j.greywoode on soundcloud)! Check out “Myrtle’s Lament” at the end of this episode (music by Jacinth and lyrics by Rebecca Hart). If you enjoyed the outro music in this episode, go on over to www.jacinthgreywoode.com/ for more tunes.

No matter where you are in life . . . whether you are just starting out and need a kick start, or you have already achieved a certain level of success and want more, or you’ve been slacking lately (we’ve all been there) and need to get back on track . . . you’ve decided to take your life, your dreams, and your destiny into your own hands . . . literally . . . with this journal. Start your 90-day journey today, visit: http://www.actionjournalforartists.com/

Three reasons why NOT to start that show, project, or business.

I’m either the best person to write this blog . . . or the worst.

Because, look, I have a lot of ideas . . . and I like to launch. 🙂

And while that has paid off for me more often than not, it also got me in trouble earlier in my career, stretching me too thin and not giving me enough time to focus on the more important projects.  You know, the ones that could have the biggest impact on my professional and personal life.

See, time is the most valuable of all commodities (not money!), so I have to constantly remind myself that no matter how cool I think an idea is, sometimes it is best to NOT pursue it, regardless of whatever exists in your damn DNA that makes you want to get every single ideal out there in the world.

I have been working on this a bunch, especially since I’ve bumped into quotes like these while looking for content for my  #mymorningwhiteboardquote series for my insta:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” – Warren Buffet

“The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes.” – Tony Blair

“Focusing is about saying no.” – Steve Jobs

Ooohhh, but it’s so hard, isn’t it?

That’s why I’ve come up with this list of 3 reasons why you should NOT start a new show , script, or any kind of business, even if the idea may be a good one! (I’d suggest you keep this one by your desk.)

1. It’s going to take up more of your time than you think.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve signed up to produce a show or write a script and thought, “I’ve done this before. How hard can it be?.”  Once I even opened two shows a night apart from one another, thinking, “It’s just producing a show.”  Ha!  What an idiotic statement that was.Every project is different.  And every single one has its own unique challenges that require you to exercise some muscle you probably didn’t even know you had!  So be ready to work just as hard on your 100th show as you did on your first, and for it to take a lot more time than you think.  (Oh, and don’t be seduced into thinking a smaller show or project is easier to create – I find the smaller ones take even more time – but often can’t produce the same rewards as a bigger one.)

2. It’s going to need you to pay a LOT of attention to it after it gets on its feet.

A project’s launch is just the beginning.  In fact, let’s compare it to an actual launch . . . of a rocket!

For months or years before a rocket’s launch, a tremendous amount of time and effort is spent designing that rocket.  But right after the NASA folks hit that launch button, the real energy is spent getting that rocket in the air.  Those engines have to roooooooar!

Getting to opening night is not where the bulk of the work is done for a show or any business, even though it may seem that way.  The real work is done after the doors open for consumers.  That’s when you have to make sure your audience is satisfied, both creatively and from a customer service perspective.  And of course, it’s where you have to market your butt off.

I don’t care HOW big your brand is.  Nothing is going to sell itself.  Expect to have to put on your salesman hat and bark like you work at a carnival game if you want your show to be a success.  And that’s gonna take time.

3. You think it’s going to make a bazillion dollars.

This is the easiest reason of all to NOT start a new idea.

If your #1 motivation is making money, do us all a favor, but especially yourself, and stop.  Because it’s just not going to work.  Shows are about audiences.  Businesses are about customers.  Making money is about you.  And that is inherently the opposite approach to how to build a successful business.  It’s too selfish.  And it won’t work.

Every time I’ve pursued an idea solely because I thought it was a moneymaker, it has not made money.  You shouldn’t build a thing unless you believe that thing will make someone else’s life better somehow.  Now, that does not mean you should avoid thinking about your potential customer base, or the commercial viability of what you are putting out into the world . . . it just can’t be the only reason you’re doing something.  Because it’ll fail.  So put it down and focus on something you love and you know other people will love instead.  The irony is, that’s when the money will pour in . . . when you’re not thinking about it.

If you’re reading this blog, then you probably have ideas . . . ideas for shows, screenplays, or even restaurants, apps or how to fix healthcare.  Some of them you should buckle down and do . . . now.  Many even many.  But others, you should kill.  If only just so you can focus on the other ideas and make them even better.

Life is short.  You do NOT have to time to do everything.  And if you want the type of success I know you do, you’re going to have to say no . . . not only to other people . . . but more importantly to yourself, and that great big idea-generating brain of yours.

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If you like the quotes above, do follow me on Instagram.  I put a quote on my whiteboard every day, which is right in front of my desk, so I stare at it all day long.   I do it to keep me on track.  And I post it on Instagram to help keep you on yours as well.  Follow me here.

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