Broadway audience demographics for 2009-10 released!

It’s that time to year!  Time to looking into the Broadway stocking and see what Santa stuffed it with.

Every year, The Broadway League studies the demographics of the Broadway theatergoer.  And every year, we take a look at the Executive Summary to determine if things are changing from year to year, and to see what changes we should implement in our businesses in order to encourage even more theatergoing from this group in the future.

Here’s what the study said about the Broadway audience this year:

  • In the 2009-2010 season, approximately 63% of all Broadway tickets were purchased by tourists.
  • 63% of the audiences were female. This reflects the trend of the past few decades.
  • The average age of the Broadway theatregoer was 47.9 years, older than in the past few seasons.
  • Three quarters of all tickets were purchased by Caucasian theatregoers.  Although still mostly homogeneous, audiences have become slightly more diverse in the past decade and there was a higher percentage of Asian theatregoers this season.
  • Broadway theatregoers were a very well-educated group. Of theatregoers over 25 years old, 77% had completed college and 39% had earned a graduate degree.
  • Broadway theatregoers were also quite affluent compared to the general population, reporting and average annual household income of $200,700.
  • The average Broadway theatregoer reported attending 4.5 shows in the previous 12 months.  The group of devoted fans who attended 15 or more performances comprimsed only 6% of the audience, but accounted for 31% of all tickets (3.7 million admissions).
  • Playgoers tended to be more frequent theatregoers than musical attendees.  The typical straight play attendee saw seven shows in the past year; the musical attendee, five.
  • 34% of respondents said they bought their tickets online.
  • Also, 34% bought their tickets more than one month prior to the show.
  • The most popular sources of theatre information were, The New York Times, and word-of-mouth.
  • 69% of those making the purchasing decision were female.
  • At musicals, 46% of audience members said that personal recommendation was the most influential factor in deciding to attend the show while 23% cited critics’ reviews.  On the other hand, at plays, 31% cited personal recommendation and 32% named critics’ reviews.
  • In general, advertisements were not reported to have been influential in making the purchasing decision.
  • 72% of the Broadway audience said that some kind of incentive (discounts, freebies, add-ons), would encourage them to attend shows more often.

Fascinating stuff, right?  Check out previous year summaries by clicking here.  Compare the year to year!  It’s fun!

The full demographic report goes into much further detail than the above.  If you’d like to get a copy, you can order it here.  If you’re developing, writing or producing a show for Broadway, these reports are required reading.

Because this is your audience, whether you like it or not.

Five tips on how to build your blurb.

Ah, the blurb . . . that short piece of copy that’s supposed to encapsulate everything about your show, and convince the reader to fork over $121.50 so fast, they don’t even have time to check for discounts.

Creating the perfect blurb is one of the biggest and earliest challenges that Broadway and Off-Broadway shows face, but it’s one of the most important things in your advertising arsenal.  Right after your artwork, the perfect blurb can mean the difference between a high-grossing week, and losing all of your customers to the show listed right next to you.

So how do you create a blurb that can guarantee butts in the seats?  Here are five tips on how I do it.

1.  People love stories.

We read books (even non-fiction) because we want a story.  We watch movies (even documentaries) because we want a story.  We watch the news because . . . yep, stories.  Give the people what they want!  Make sure your blurb contains details about your story (the plot, etc.), even if it’s a thin one.  Don’t just fill your blurb with accolades, awards, stars, etc.  Those are all great, but if there isn’t a story that the reader finds compelling in your blurb, kiss those bucks bye-bye.

2.  Let the people pick your words for you.

Need help on what words to use to describe your show?  Hear how other people describe it first, then look for commonly used words.  Have ten people read your play and tell them to give you ten words to describe it.  Invite an audience to a reading, have a talk-back and pay attention to the (positive) words that are said more than once.  These are the characteristics that are resonating with your audience, and they will resonate with the reader as well.

3.  Shorter is not better.

Contrary to popular belief, shorter copy is NOT better.  It has been proven time and time again that longer copy converts at a higher rate than shorter copy.  Don’t believe me?

Click here and read what the fathers of advertising found.  Or click here for a more modern test case.

Your truly interested customers want to know as much about your show as possible, so give them all of the relevant details you can.  The person that doesn’t want to read the longer copy and stops after the first paragraph?  Well, I’d bet you 2 premium tickets to Wicked that he wasn’t going to buy your show anyway.  But with longer copy you’ve got a better chance of driving that hook deeper into your customer’s gills.

Of course, don’t write long just to be long.  Your copy still has to be exceptionally relevant, but it doesn’t have to be 140 characters.

4.  Peeking is not cheating.

Visit Telecharge and browse through the shows, reading each blurb.  Notice what techniques are used.  After reading ten blurbs, decide which shows of the ten you would want to see?  Which shows do you not want to see?  Why?  By examining what’s working today (and more importantly what’s not), you can figure out what will work for you tomorrow.

5.  Don’t be satisfied.

Lots of shows pick a blurb and stick with it for extended periods of time.  When you’re just starting out, write TWO blurbs, not one, and test them. Which one converts at a higher rate?  Ok, now discard the loser, write a variation on the first, and repeat.  Then again.  Then again.  There’s always a way to improve the blurb, and it’s your job to keep tweaking and testing throughout the life of your show.

There’s nothing more daunting than the all white Microsoft Word screen starting back at you, just waiting for you to fill it with the words that’ll turn your show into a seller.

But don’t be scared.  The blurb is not The Blob.  Just start writing and you’ll find out that you know what sells your show better than you think you do.

After all, you got sold on it, right?