How to make money on YouTube . . . with Broadway?

An interesting article appeared in the technology section of The Times this week about YouTube, and how Google expects their 1.65 billion dollar baby to be profitable this year.

How?

Well, they made friends with the enemy.

The TV and film industries have been fighting with YouTube since the site came out.  As fast as videos of copyrighted material could go up, another lawsuit would be filed.  Google claimed innocence (!), but eventually agreed to police their backyard as much as possible.

Well, those bitter enemy industries are now the closest of friends.

Why?

Like just about everything else, it’s all about money.

The TV and movie producers realized that trying to stop the uploading of their content to a site like YouTube was pointless.  It was gonna keep happening anyway, so why pay those lawyers to keep fighting it.  They also realized that a lot of those clips were doing a lot more good than harm, by providing free media to promote their products.

And most importantly, Google started running ads on their copyrighted videos, and sharing the proceeds.

Suddenly, the lawsuits stopped.

Funny, how a little cash calms the nerves.

So, let’s recap:

Fans put up copyrighted videos.  They get pulled down.  Google pays owners of material, and all is ok.

Huh.  The first two-thirds of that three sentence story sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Think YouTube would ever pay off the owners of the material of Broadway shows by sharing in ad revenue that appears on each clip?

And would that make it ok?

Unlike film or TV, we’ve got quality issues to deal with.  A performance of Mad Men is always the same, no matter how many times it is played.  A performance of Patti Lupone doing Gypsy . . . well, one performance might be HUGELY different from the next.

I don’t expect YouTube to open its purse to Broadway any time soon, but it would be nice, wouldn’t it?  Because as our costs escalate, it is becoming more and more essential that Broadway shows find ancillary forms of revenue to defray those rising expenses.

Read the article here.

Look Ma, that sink actually works!

Theater, by nature, is an unrealistic art form.  Unlike film which, generally speaking, tries to capture events in as authentic an environment as possible (on an actual city street, in a house, etc.); in theater, we’re putting events on an elevated stage, and scenery and such is never 101% realistic (in fact, I’d argue that the better sets are those that suggest the locations, rather than try to duplicate them).

Our audiences accept and embrace our suggestions of reality.  It’s part of the ‘suspension of disbelief’ of going to the theater.  Our audiences know that they can never see a car blow up like they can in a movie, but they’ll see a creative way of symbolizing that act.

And this is exactly why when we DO give them a spoonful of reality, it usually excites the audiences enough to remember and talk about that reality.

For example…

I saw Red last Friday, and one of the moments that got the biggest audible response from the audience was when one of the actors poured real red paint from one bucket into another.  You could actually hear everyone thinking, “Wow, there’s actually real paint in there!”  Then, of course (spoiler alert), the actors actually painted with it!

The set of Time Stands Still at MTC was a New York apartment, with a full-on kitchen . . . and it was a working kitchen!  Yep, when Laura Linney turned on the faucet . . . gulp . . . water came out!  They had plumbing!

In David Cromer’s Our Town, they fry up some real bacon, and the scent goes wafting through the air and gets even vegans craving a slice.

Theatrical design will never be able to compete with film design or any other “realistic” design medium, so why bother trying.

But, at key moments in your show, a designed-dose of reality can amplify an important issue.

Homework isn’t just for kids.

When we were in school, most of us did our homework.

Why?

Because someone said we had to.  So we did it.  Pretty simple.

Maybe you knew your homework would factor into your grade, which would factor into what college you went to, and so on . . . but basically, you did it because someone told you to do it, and gave you a day when it was due.

Every day I hear people talk about how they haven’t finished writing a script, or how they haven’t finished editing their film, or a stand-up routine, or a song, and so on.

And I wonder . . . if that script, or film or stand-up routine was homework . . . would they have finished it?

I’d bet yes.

And when so much of success is just finishing what you’re working on, or executing that great idea that you’ve been kicking around for years, there has got to be a way to create a systematic approach to help you do just that.

That’s why I’m an advocating an Adult Homework System . . . or AHS.

Here’s how it works:

  • Find yourself a friend, a teacher, a shrink, or even a random person online.
  • Describe what you want to accomplish (complete a script, a song, or whatever).
  • Make that person give you your homework with a due date.
  • Do it in the allotted time.
  • Rinse and repeat.

Make sense?

I’d bet you finish what you’re working on a lot faster (and probably with even better results).  (There’s probably an idea for a great social networking website here, where people sign up to be “teachers” or “students” and are randomly assigned to one another, and the teachers help the students’ dreams come true.)

It’s hard to motivate yourself.  That’s why the educational system exists (and why it costs so much freakin’ money).

And there is nothing wrong with asking for a little help to keep you on track.

Because homework isn’t just for kids.

It’s for students.

And life is about learning every single day.

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