Where will Broadway be in 20 years?

I saw a musical set in the future this week, and it made me wonder just what Broadway will look like a couple of decades from now.

It has actually been almost 20 years since I arrived here in Manhattan, as a freshly scrubbed college sophomore, and I’ve certainly seen some changes during those twenty years.

In 1991, 42nd St. was not somewhere you wanted to hang out on a Saturday evening.

We had just started giving seat locations to ticket buyers over the phone. (Previously, customers just bought a section and didn’t know they were sitting until they walked into the theater.)

And an ad in The New York Times actually sold some tickets.

So where will we be in another 20 years?

Will Wicked still be running?  How much will tickets cost?  Will we have more theaters?  Less?  The same?  What will be the “new way” to sell tickets? (Email blasts didn’t exist 20 years ago.)

(My answers?  Yes.  $500.  The same but 1-2 more non-profits will occupy those theaters.  And everything we do will be done through our “phones”.)

Tell me your predictions.  Where will Broadway be in 20 years?

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Would you pay to read the NY Times online? Survey results revealed!

Last week, the introduction of the New York Times paywall prodded me to ask all of you whether or not you’d read features and/or reviews from the Arts and Leisure section if you were forced to fork over your credit card info.

Ready for the down-and-dirty results?  I bet you can guess them.

  • First of all, 81.27% of those polled do NOT subscribe to the New York Times.
  • That leaves only 18.73% that do subscribe.

Next, when the non-subscribers were asked if they would pay to read a feature article . . .

  • 64.69% would NOT pay to read a feature.
  • 8.75% would pay.
  • 26.56% might pay.

Finally, when the non-subscribers were asked if they would pay to read a review  . . .

  • 70.25% would NOT pay to read a review.
  • 8.23% would pay.
  • 21.52% might pay.

So what does this mean?

First off, the only number that suprised me was the number of my readers that weren’t subscribers to the Times. But, I guess that’s why they are in this paywall mess in the first place.

Second, if I was a NY Times exec., I’d be frightened by these figures, even though it’s a very casual survey of a very specific type of reader (I don’t think the Times is counting on A&L readers to keep their biz going – still, I have to wonder if the Times did a similar survey before they erected their paywall).  The Times has to know they are going to lose readers.  The hope is that the small percentage that will pay will generate more income for the business than the readers they are going to lose.

Lastly, the results indicate that there is a large percentage of you that would consider paying for both features and reviews, which once again proves that it doesn’t matter what the barrier of entry is . . . if the content is crown-worthy, the people will pay.

As I’ve said before, people are not price resistant, they are value resistant.  They will pay $3,000 for a handbag or $5 for a cup of coffee or $150 for a theater ticket, if there is enough value in the experience, and if the experience is rare enough (which is the problem with the NY Times model – since free news is everywhere).

The challenge for the New York Times isn’t getting people to pay for their content.  The challenge for the New York Times is getting the content to a level where it’s worth paying for.

Thanks for taking the survey!  Oh, and if you ever max out on your 20 free articles and are dying to read the NY Times reviews, don’t forget you can always read them for free by visiting them through other sites . . . like, oh, I don’t know, this one?  🙂

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What will tomorrow’s audience want from their theater?

Yesterday, we chatted about how difficult it is to get the multitasking generation to the theater because they can lay on their couch and channel surf, web surf and Wii surf, all at the same time.

That got me thinking . . .

There have been a number of theories tossed around lately about how the current crop of musicals on Broadway have a certain sound or are from popular musical catalogs, because the current theater-going demographic (folks 40+) is the first group of theater-lovers who grew up on rock and roll.

Simply put, the traditional sound of musicals has changed, because the traditional audience has changed.

Well, in the 1980s, another entertainment game-changer hit the stores:  the personal computer and the video game.

According to my calculations, that puts us about 10 years away from the next group of 40 year olds who grew up on something that their parents didn’t; a something that had a major impact on their lives, and their entertainment.

So . . . if Rock and Roll had such an effect on our product . . .  can you imagine the effect that the computer will have on our product?  Or the video game?

Or, I guess what I’m saying is . . . our audience is about to turn upside down pretty dang soon.  The computer is the car of the last 30 years.  And that’s going to have a ripple effect and change what people want from their theater.

If you’re a writer, get ready to adapt and expand, because our audience is going to want so much more if we expect them to turn off and sit still for two hours.

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Update:  I wrote the above blog two days before this article about the “Theater of the Arcade” appeared in the NY Times.  Read it here.  Interesting stuff on its way.

Fun on a Friday: A Broadway ‘promise’ to Lebron James.

Give it up for the great gals at Promises, Promises (and the marketing team pulling their strings) who sang the little ditty below to try and convince LeBron James to wear Knick orange next year.

While their sweet harmonies didn’t do much in the campaign to woo Lebron, they did manage to get a bunch of attention, including a write-up on the NY Times website.

There are a couple things to learn from this fun video, besides the fact that New Yorkers are actually nice:

  1. Nothing is more valuable than an enthusiastic cast that will go above and beyond to help promote your show.
  2. Mixing two subjects that don’t usually belong together (Chorus Girls in a 1960s Broadway Musical and one of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game) is inherently interesting and funny and spreads faster than a cold in kindergarten.
  3. If you look a little deeper on the Promises, Promises YouTube Channel, you’ll see that this wasn’t the Voices’ first vixeny video.  It was just the first one that got real attention.  But they didn’t give up when the first one didn’t go viral.  They kept going and going and going, until something hit.  Huh. Sounds like a good motto for marketing . . . and everything.

Thanks for the lesson, ladies.

Now, in the next video, keep the wigs, costumes and heels on, and head to the outdoor courts on West 4th Street and join a pick-up game.  I’d love to see that.  I bet a lot of folks would pay to see that!

And the winner of the Tony Pool is . . .

. . . not me.

I scored a pretty disappointing 18 out of 26 in my own personal Tony Pool this year.  I feel like I should give my iPad back!

But how did you do?

Well, get this . . .

In looking at what the majority of you Tony Pool players thought . . . you scored a 23 out of 26!  That’s right . . . you are now the best predictors of the Tonys on the planet!  (And two of the awards the aggregate got wrong were design awards).  Next year, all eyes are going to be on what you think is going to win.

Speaking of winning, let’s get to the winners of the Pool!

This year, the Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool grand prize winner is . . .

Judson R. from Lawrenceville, Georgia, with an almost perfect score of 25 out of 26!  Wowza, Judson!  If I were the NY Times, I’d be calling you for your predictions next year.

Congrats, Judson, you’re taking home an iPad!

Our first prize winner of an Amazon Kindle is . . . Neil R., who is also from Georgia (it’s a big Tony pickin’ state down there, apparently).  Congratulations, Neil!  The Kindle ain’t an iPad, but I gotta tell you, it’s pretty awesome.

And our second prize of a $50 Amazon.com gift certificate goes to Roberta H. from Oconomowoc, WI.

Unfortunately, no one nabbed the perfect score bonus of $100 bucks.  But since I was prepared to pay that out anyway, I’m going to donate it to one of the great programs at TDF.

But we did need that tie-breaker!  Marian screwed us all with that zero-second speech, so the ties went to the person closest to zero.

Winners, we’ll be contacting you about your stuff shortly. Watch that inbox.

Now, who’s got predictions for next year’s Tonys?  Will Daniel Radcliffe win Best Actor for How To Succeed?  Will Scottsboro Boys win best score?  Will Godspell take the Tony for Best Revival?  🙂