You can’t come to my reading? I’ll bring my reading to you.

I got in a great convo with a theater lover/great business guy the other day about the pros and cons of taping theatrical performances.

We spent most of our time talking about delivering finished Broadway productions to cinemas around the country like The Met and The National Theatre’s programs.

But then we got into other applications.

One of the questions that I get the most from Producers/Writers/Actors is . . . how can I get a Producer to come to my reading?

Well, what if . . . what if . . . we streamed readings online?

One of the biggest reasons I don’t go to readings is that they take too much time out of the workday, especially when you factor in getting to/from.

But if the readings were streamed, I could get a taste of the material, without leaving my desk.

Usually I’m not an advocate of trying to use a 2D taped version of a show to sell a 3D live version of a show.  But, since the elements of a reading usually don’t sell a show well anyway (fluroescent lights, rehearsal rooms, music stands, etc.), we might not lose that much in the presentation.  And since we might get so many more “attendees”, we might end up with a net positive.  Lose a little, gain a lot.

A streamed reading could also be a great way to generate investor interest from around the country, rather than just relying on the investors who are within a 45 mile radius of Manhattan.

Those are the pluses . . .

The downside?  More Producers could stay home.  Watching a reading by yourself is not like being in an audience surrounded by other people laughing, applauding, etc.

Honestly, I’m not sure about this approach. And we’d have to get some union assistance in allowing it.

But you know me, I’m all about giving it a shot.

Because unless we continue to try new ways to market our material at all stages of its development, our market will will eventually shrivel up to nothing.

What do you think?  Would you like to see a reading online?

– – – – –

FUN STUFF

– Take the Broadway Investing 101 Seminar.  Click here for dates in NYC and LA.

– Come to the Director-Writer Speed Date!  RSVP here.

– Win 2 tickets to see Born Yesterday on Broadway and a free dinner.  Enter the Sunday Giveaway here.

– I’m speaking at The Apple Store.  Details here.

 

 

The Most Performed Play in High Schools – a follow up.

Yesterday, I listed the ETA’s most performed plays and musicals in high schools.

What surprised so many people about this list was that the play that topped even Shakespeare for the number one slot was Almost Maine, a play by the Maine-bred, very talented and oft seen on Law & Order, John Cariani.

The NY Times even wrote an article about the Maine phenomenon.

What is so special about this play being the most performed high school play in the US?

Well, for starters, you’ve probably never heard of it . . . because it flopped Off-Broadway in 2006 after running for only 67 performances.

As the NY Times article details, it lost its entire $800,000 investment.

What the NY Times article did not say was how much of that investment had been recouped since the play has become the most performed high school play in the US.

The article did say that Maine has done well for the author, which is fantastic news, because I’m a fan of John’s and hope that he writes another play soon.

But those author royalties would be buptkus if it weren’t for the original investors and if it weren’t for the original Producer (who, if this is a traditional agreement, won’t see any money until after the show recoups . . . if it recoups).

It’s great that the play has been able to support John over the years, and I hope it continues to do so.  But there has got to be a way that these plays that flop in NYC but have long lives elsewhere can provide some support to the Producers, while at the same time returning as much money to the investors as possible.

The goal of the subsidiary royalty revenue stream for authors is to keep them writing, so they aren’t forced to take a day job.

Shouldn’t there be something similar for the Producer?  Wouldn’t that allow the Producer to produce more often, just like it allows the author to write more often?  And shouldn’t they receive something for launching the project in the first place?

There doesn’t have to be something similar, obviously.  Because there isn’t one.

But that may also be why the crop of career Producers is so small.

Read Almost Maine here.  See what all the high schools are fussing about, and support a new playwright (and hopefully a Producer) in the process.

Read the other 9 most produced plays and musical in high schools by clicking here.

A panel on (gulp) How to Raise Money. And I’m on it!

The most popular question that I get emailed to me from readers is, “How do I raise money?” or its derivative, “How do I find investors?”

And unless your uncle invented the straw, you’ve probably found yourself wondering the same thing.

My uncle certainly didn’t invent the straw, or the even that thing that squeezes a tube of toothpaste to make sure you get out every drop.  So, I have to ask myself this ‘meaning-of-life’-type question just about every time I set out to raise money for one of Broadway or Off-Broadway shows.

So where do you find investors?

This Sunday, August 15th, at noon, The Off Broadway Alliance will host a panel that sets out to answer this very question entitled, “Off-Broadway Financials:  How to Raise Money and Where to Spend It.”  Panelists include Producer and GM, Jamie Cesa, Marketing Guru, Hugh Hysell, Producer and Legal Eagle, Bruce Lazarus and me!

The panel is free, but it does require you to RSVP.

So come to the panel, and together we’ll see if we can come up with some great ways for all of us to raise money for our shows.

And just like every panel you ever attend, you should come a little early and plan to stay a little late.  You’ll do some networking, and maybe you’ll even find someone who wants to invest in your show.

Oh, and if that’s not a good enough reason . . . there are donuts.

RSVP here, and I’ll see you on Sunday at noon.  If you come, make sure you say hello!

(Oh, and Uncle Barry?  I really don’t care that you didn’t invent anything.  You taught me how to play Monopoly, and I wouldn’t trade those days for the world.)

– – – –

UPDATE FROM KEN:  This panel is long gone, but if you’re still looking for information on how to find investors and raise money for your show, I’ve got the answers for your.  Click here for info on how to learn how to raise money for your show. 

When should I invite Producers to see my show?

According to dictionary.com, the definition of ‘Show’ is “to cause or allow to be seen” which is why it’s only natural that if you’ve been developing a show, you want people to see it.

But if you’ve got a new play, a new musical or a new disturbing performance art piece that would be banned in 16 countries, you’ll eventually need to ask yourself, “When do I invite producers to see my show?”

That’s exactly what Tim, a young, up-and-coming Producer from out West asked me last weekend via email.

It was one of those questions that I was irritated that I got.

Why?  Because frankly, I should have answered this on the blog a long time ago! I shouldn’t have had to wait to get prodded by Tim.

Ok, putting my Catholic guilt aside for a sec . . . here’s what I told him:

Knowing when to invite Producers, partners, investors, potential creative partners, etc. to a reading is tricky.  You don’t want to invite people too early, because it’ll be hard to get them back if the reading flops, no matter how much work you do on the piece.  You can’t wait too long to invite them, because the best way to raise money, attract partners, etc. is by showing off a sample of your product.

So how do you know?

Let me ask you this . . . How do you know when you’re going to take a boyfriend or girlfriend home to meet your parents?

The feeling is the same.

You wouldn’t bring anyone home if you didn’t think there was at least the slight possibility of something serious developing, right?  Sure, you might be nervous that your parents might not like your new significant other, but you wouldn’t put you (or your Other) through that stress unless that person and that relationship were important enough to you, and unless you felt it could move forward.

It’s the same for shows.

Do not invite people to your show, if their approval may determine your show’s future, until you’re confident in what you’re presenting.  Because, unfortunately, Parents and Producers are similar.  They judge a lot based on first impressions and initial instincts.

Which means, you may not get a second shot at impressing them.

So unless you plan on eloping, you’re better off waiting until you feel good about what you’re doing, or if you can’t judge for yourself, ask an objective third party for their thoughts on your show before you invite the world.

****************************************

Only 7 days left to enter The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool. Win an iPad!

Play today! Click here!

And don’t forget to RSVP for my Tony Party!

How does a Broadway Producer get paid?

I wrote a blog in November which stumped for the concept that Producers should receive a portion of Author’s subsidiary rights on shows that have not recouped on Broadway, since it was the Producer’s production that branded the show for subsidiary production in the first place.

I got tremendous positive response from the industry from that blog, including several Producers who said they would be willing to take more risks on Broadway if they knew they would have a guaranteed revenue stream to help keep funding their projects in the future.

I also got a lot of questions from readers wanting to know exactly how Producers were compensated for producing shows on and Off-Broadway, so here’s a blog that breaks downs the bucks (or lack thereof).

There are three main forms of traditional Producer compensation.  They are:

1.  Producer Office Fee

The Office Fee is a flat weekly amount paid to the Producer designed to cover costs associated with maintaining an office needed to run a Broadway show.  If you were the CEO of a company, then your rent, your assistant(s), your copy machine, etc. and all of the things that you need on a daily basis would be taken care of under the company’s overall operating budget.  A Producer’s overhead is not covered by the show’s operating budget, therefore the Office Fee was designed to help offset some of those expenses.  For an Off-Broadway show, the average Producer Office Fee is $1,000/week, but it can range anywhere between $500 – $1,500 week.  On a Broadway show, the average Producer Office Fee is approximately $2,000, but this can vary as well depending on the size of the production. The Producer Office Fee is usually paid to the Producers two weeks prior to the start of rehearsals.  Before that, you’re on your own.

The Producer Office Fee is traditionally split between the Lead Producers of the production.  If there are three Leads, then divide the numbers I’ve specified above by three, etc.  At times, secondary Producers (or other “above-the-title” Producers) also share in a portion of this fee.  In that case, the Producer Office Fee can sometimes be split many, many, ways.  I’ve been on shows where some Producers were getting $62.50/week.

If a show is in trouble, this Office Fee is usually one of the first to be waived.

2.  Producer Royalty

The Producer Royalty is similar to the royalty paid to the Authors or the Designers of the production.  It starts off as a percentage of the gross (customarily about 3%), but usually ends up converting to a percentage of profit through a royalty pool.  There are traditionally minimum royalties paid to everyone in the pool, and a 3% Producer Royalty would usually mean about $702 Off-Broadway and about $3,000 to $4,500 on Broadway per week.  The hope, of course, is that the show is constantly in profit, and that everyone in that pool is paid more than the minimums.

The Producer Royalty is split between Lead Producers as well, just like the Office Fee.  Three Lead Producers who are treated evenly on a $3,000 royalty would get $1k each.  And, usually on the bigger musicals, a portion of that Producer Royalty is split between a bunch of those other names above the title as well.

Unlike the other creatives, however, there is no advance paid on a Producer Royalty and the royalty begins with the first performance.

If the show is in trouble, creative royalties to all participants, including Authors, etc. are usually reduced, waived or deferred pretty quickly.

3.  Profit after Recoupment

This is the proverbial pot at the end of the rainbow for Producers.  Before a show has recouped, 100% of its profit (after the royalties specified above) goes to its investors.  After a show pays back its investors in full, profit is treated differently.  First, some folks usually take a sliver off the top (some General Managers, Stars, Authors, etc.), and then the remaining profit is split in two . . . half of which goes to the investors, and half of which gets paid to the Producers.  However, once again, this profit that gets paid to Producers once again gets divvied up, first to the Lead Producers, and then each Lead Producer pays a portion of his or her profit to all of the other big money raisers on the show.  Because the cost of producing Broadway shows is so great, Lead Producers usually “sub-contract” some of their financing, and in exchange for that, they have to give up some of their profit.  But this is the profit that all Producers are praying for, because if you can get a show to recoup, and run for years and years, and spin-off tours and subsidiary companies for years and years, this profit can help provide a financial foundation for your office and help you get future shows off the ground.
In all of the above, you can see how quickly Producer compensation can get diluted, especially if you’ve got a bunch of Producers helping you get your show up (which is becoming more and more the norm).  Now you know why so many Producer’s offices are smaller than the offices of their own vendors!

This dilution has caused the creation of a sometimes utilized fourth income stream known as the Executive Producer Fee and/or Royalty.

The EP Fee is a lump sum payment paid in production to cover the work on a project before it opens.  It can be $10k or $25k on a Broadway show, or whatever is appropriate and “budgetarily” responsible.  The argument for the EP Fee is that every other person on the production team is paid up front, from the Authors to the Director to the Production Assistant . . . so why shouldn’t the Producer be paid?  A CEO is paid, right?  A Managing Director?

The EP Royalty is usually a fixed amount that is paid directly to the Producer during operating weeks that was created in response to the fact that so many Producers had to give up their standard Producer Royalty to their major investors or other above-the-title Producers on the show.
It’s becoming more and more challenging to make money on Broadway as a Producer, as it gets harder and harder to recoup because of escalating costs, and because the traditional compensation streams are being tributized to so many other players.

But it still is possible.

But seriously, I don’t know a single Producer that is in it for the money, and you shouldn’t be either.

I laugh whenever people say that Producers are greedy, and money grubbing, etc.  That is an old stereotype that just doesn’t apply anymore.  Sure, there have always been a few bad eggs in any chicken coop, but if we were really in it for the money . . . we’d be in movies.

Got a question for me about Producing? Click here to join The Producer’s Perspective PRO to access this month’s live Office Hour’s Call with me and ask me anything you’d like to knkow!

_ _ _ _

Get more knowledge about producing, monthly newsletters, and webinars—like Producing 101, plus a Tip of the Week email, when you join TheProducersPerspectivePRO today.

Join the club here.

SIGN UP BELOW TO NEVER MISS A BLOG