Podcast Episode 198: The Creator of Freestyle Love Supreme, Anthony Veneziale

Usually, these intros are all about giving you a tease of information to get you to listen to the podcast:

  • Somewhere in this episode, I beatbox.

For reals.

Yep, this son-of-an-Indian immigrant who grew up in preppy New England blue blazer, threw down some beats.

And thanks to Anthony Veneziale, one of the men who helped paved the Great White Way for hip hop and the creator of Freestyle Love Supreme, I did alright.

Listen in to this podcast, and you’ll hear about the origins of this new form on Broadway, and how he helped Lin Manuel Miranda and Tommy Kail with In The Heights, and a ton more, including (yes, I’m giving you the full bullet points, because this podcast is that good):

  • Why Hip-Hop/Rap is so effective in the theater and why this is just the beginning.  
  • How his success happened overnight . . . NO IT DIDN’T!  It took a long time, and why and how he had the courage to keep at it.  
  • The most commonly uttered words on my podcast from all my guests, and why those words helped Anthony crush his goals.  
  • How he teaches freestyle at the Freestyle Love Supreme Academy (if I can do it – anyone can).
  • And in addition to me beatboxing, you can bet he shows a little of his freestylin’ skills as well.

So listen in, and after you do, check out Freestyle Love Supreme.  

Anthony is one of the few guests that forced me to see his show before he appeared as a guest, and I was so thankful I did.  While I have seen them perform before, the show is more than just a 3-minute sketch of freestyle.  But you got to go to check it out.  You’ll hear why when I talk about it in the podcast, so . . .

Listen in!
And you will win!
Because Anthony is the real deal!
And after you hear what he has . . .

Oh crap, I give up.  I’m bad at this. Just listen.

  • 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 Douglas Lyons and Ethan Pakchar!  Check out “Runnin’” from their musical BEAU at the end of this episode. If you enjoyed the outro music in this episode, go on over to http://lyonsandpakchar.com/ for more tunes.

This week’s episode is brought to you by AJV MEDIA. For more information, please visit http://www.ajvmedia.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.

Last minute alert: A Panel about Theater Festivals 2Morrow and more and I’m on it!

Hey Producer’sPerspectivePro readers!

If you’re in the NY area tomorrow, Saturday, September 20th, and are interested in hearing the dos and don’ts of writing, producing or directing a show for a theater festival (like this one), then you must come to this panel, brought to you by The Off Broadway Alliance!

You’ll hear from me (and how we started Rave as well as my experience with producing Altar Boyz the very first year of NYMF) and other festival experts including Producer and General Manager Sharon Fallon (Indecent), Producing Artistic Director of NYMF West Hyler (Paramour, Georama), and writer/director Rebecca Aparicio (Pedro Pan, Gloria: A Life) and Producer Robert Driemeyer (La Cage aux Folles, Tennessee Williams’ The Two-Character Play).

And there will be tons of networking opportunities with other people just like you (and even some free bagels and coffee), so come!

All the details are here.

See you there!

Did you know Broadway has a loyalty program? And why you should have one too.

One of my favorite theater reporters wrote an article for the Associated Press recently and with the headline alone, he nailed something that I had been thinking for years:

A Broadway Secret:  A Frequent Flyer Program for Theater Fans

If I had the insight to write that article, I would have headlined it, “Why the @#$% do more people not know about the awesome thing that is Audience Rewards, for @#$%’s sake?”

And that is one of the many reasons I don’t write for the Associated Press!

If you don’t know about Audience Rewards, click here, learn more and join.  It’s the “Official Loyalty Program for Broadway” that was started years ago, in a tri-partisan partnership between the major theater chains (which ain’t such an easy thing to broker, by the way).

As a member of Audience Rewards, you earn points, you save money, you get freebies.  Bingo, bango, bongo . . . who doesn’t want that?

Don’t misunderstand, AR is a vibrant program with a ton of members.  But why doesn’t it feel like an Airline or Hotel loyalty program, which has entire websites dedicated to how to earn more points, hacking VIP status, and more?

In other words, why aren’t YOU a member?

It didn’t take me too long to realize one of the answers.  You see, AR is an “industry” loyalty program, not a brand-specific loyalty program.

You’re probably a member of a whole bunch of loyalty programs:  American Airlines, Marriot, Hertz, Chili’s, your nail salon, poke bowl place, etc, etc.

You’re probably NOT a member of these loyalty programs:  Travel, Hotels, American Chain Restaurants, Beauty Salons, Fast Food Fads, etc.

See what I mean?  Industry vs. Specific Brand.

In fact, our loyalty program is probably one of the FEW industry-wide loyalty programs out there (again, a testament to the power brokers who negotiated this deal – because it’s somewhat unprecedented).

I’m so thankful for Audience Rewards, because it gives our fans something to hang their loyalty on, and for us Producers, it puts butts in seats.

But what I’d like to see is more show-specific loyalty programs.

What punch card can you offer your most loyal fans for coming back more than once . . . or even better, recommending your show to others?  What type of upgrades can you offer to the audience members who pay full price rather than discount? What non-advertised secret clubs can you create that people can aspire to get an invite to (see American Airlines Concierge Key program).

If you’re not rewarding your customers for their loyalty to you and your brand, then you are missing out on one of the most important parts of your marketing campaigns.  Because keeping the customers you have happy is so much easier than acquiring new ones.

So just because our industry has a terrific loyalty program, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one too.

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Learn more marketing tips live and in-person from some of the best in the Broadway biz here.

 

 

 

What I loved about the Harry Potter Times Square Takeover.

In case you missed it, on September 5th, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child did cast a spell over all the digital billboards in Times Square.

As you can see in this clip,  it was the largest advertising “takeover” in NYC on record . . . and probably the world.

Why did I love this marketing move so much?

Is it because of all the “traditional” forms of media still being used today, Outdoor has held its value, while print, tv and more have dropped precipitously?

Is it because it was a “back to Hogwarts” campaign that was calendar-synced to our back to school week . . . and timing your campaigns with what is on the mind of your consumer always strengthens your impression?

Is it because while Potter continues to do good biz, there has been some chatter about why it isn’t bigger than Hamilton and others, with the brand it has (I’d say it’s the doubleheader – which is never easy for a US audience to embrace)?  This stunt answered the question of its size, especially with the coincided announcements of productions in San Francisco, Toronto and Hamburg.

Is it because Sarah Jessica Parker was there?

I loved it for all of those things . . . and for one other.

I’m positive that when the idea came up in the advertising meeting of taking over every billboard in Times Square, someone said or at the very least thought . . . “That’s impossible.”

And then, someone whipped open their spellbook, gave that person the head of a donkey with no tongue, and made this takeover effin’ happen.

It probably cost a small fortune.  It probably was a giant pain in the a$$.

But the best marketing (and the best everything!) is what hasn’t been done before.  And things that haven’t been done require passion and perseverance.

And, they always pay off.  Always (even though sometimes you can’t see it right away).

Kudos to the Producers, the Ad Agency, the Press Rep and to everyone on the Potter team for doing/imagining the impossible and making it a reality.

Now, if they could only make quidditch a real sport.

 

 

 

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