The two big Os in marketing.

My two favorite forms of media to buy in today’s theatrical market are . . .

Online

and

Outdoor.

The problem with that second O, is that it’s expensiv-o in the heart of the city, where all those potential theatergoers swarm.  Seems a bit unfair that we have to pay the same price for those big billboards as Tide or Levi’s, which are available to the purchaser all over the world, as o-pposed to Broadway, which is available . . . well . . . only on Broadway.

That’s why I couldn’t help but wonder why more of us don’t try to make deals on available outdoor opportunities like the one in this picture.

What about approaching the real estate companies and asking for signage in unrented storefronts?  They’re sitting there, making no money for someone . . . why not give them some earning potential in the meantime?

Or what about mural billboards on available brick walls?

Or instead of leaving the signage of closed shows up on theater marquees, putting signage up for other shows in the same theater chain?

The best Producers I know don’t just buy whatever their agency or media company is selling.  The best Producers I know look for something that people haven’t thought of yet.

The best Producers I know look for the third “O” of marketing . . . new Opportunities.

Go where others haven’t gone before.  Consider yourself an explorer, like Magellan or Ponce de Leon.

Because when you do discover some New World of Media, or new anything for that matter, it’ll feel . . . well . . . (cough, cough) . . . O-tastic.

Overheard at Angus: Volume VII

I eavesdropped on a couple of veteran producers the other day, one of whom was obviously in negotiations over a theater for an upcoming show.

Here’s how the conversation went:

Veteran #1:  I’m thinking of letting the audience drink during the show like they do at Rock of Ages.

Veteran #2:  Why not? Everyone’s doing it.  I bought my wife a sippy cup full of wine at Jersey Boys just last month. Boy are those theaters making more in bar revenue than ever before. The wine was 11 dollars!

Veteran #1:  11 dollars?

Veteran #2:  Yeah.  I had to ask them if it included a facility fee.

This conversation was funnier in person (partly because of the awesome pair of tweed pants Veteran #2 was wearing), but it also made me remember one of the downsides to capitalism in industries with challenging models.

The facility fee was tossed on top of ticket prices years ago to defray the costs of renovation, upkeep, etc. of these historic buildings.  It was getting more expensive to keep them in shape, so the theaters needed another revenue stream to offset some of the costs.

Now, at some shows, bar revenues are sky-high as drinking in your seats is encouraged.  I’d bet there is some serious found money being counted.

Wouldn’t it be nice if this economic windfall was passed back to the consumer by eliminating the facility fee?

Or what about upping the price of the sippy cups by .50, as a drink tax (like a cigarette tax), and putting that towards the theater renovations, etc, making it an optional expense?

Doubt it’ll happen.  Once an income line hits your books, it’s hard to get it to disappear, even if 10 other lines follow it.

And that’s too bad . . . because the lines at our box office may suffer because of it.

Fun on a Friday: Will Ferrell back on Broadway.

Will Ferrell made a big announcement earlier this week when he appeared on David Letterman.

Yep, the big man that tore up the Cort Theatre for 8 weeks a little over a year ago (which I was lucky enough to produce), told Dave’s viewers that he’s coming back to Broadway.

And this time, he’s going to do a musical.  Watch below to find out which one. And think about how lucky the Producers of this show are for all this attention.

Oh, and Will?  If you’re reading, please do come back.  I’m still laughing at that “Oh Brownie” bit.  And those nicknames of yours, were . . . well, as George W. would say, “Genius.  G-E-N-I-S.  Genius.”  (If you want to the best of the bunch, click here.)

What the financial reform bill means to Broadway investors and you.

Most of us don’t pay a lot of attention to what happens in D.C.  Sometimes it feels like Broadway is a magical place, and what happens with governmental financial reform doesn’t affect us.

Well, tucked deep in the recently-signed-into-law, 2300-page Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, was a change to the definition of ‘Accredited Investor’ that will have an impact on how Broadway and Off-Broadway producers raise money.

First, some background.

In 1933, in the wake of the Great Depression, congress passed the ‘Securities Act of 1933’ and for the first time offered federal regulation of the sale of securities.  As you can imagine, filing with the federal government can be an onerous and expensive task for many small businesses, start-ups, and Broadway and Off-Broadway shows.  So, to support the entrepreneurial American Spirit, Congress provided for a number of exemptions from federal filing in that 1933 Act. One of the most commonly used by all types of business, including shows, is the Accredited Investor exemption, which allows companies to raise money without filing, by taking money from Accredited Investors only.

What’s an Accredited Investor?

An Accredited Investor is a government-defined term that basically means, “You’ve got enough money to make your own decisions, so we don’t have to look out for you like we look out for the little guys.”  Qualitatively, it means that either you have a net worth of $1,000,000 or you have made $200,000/year for the past two years (or $300,000 when combined with a spouse).  (To see a complete list of the qualifiers, visit the SEC’s site here.)

I’d bet that at least 90% of all Broadway offerings to investors are made to Accredited Investors only.

Well, in the debate over the bill, there was some strong lobbying to change the Net Worth threshold to $2,000,000!  Fortunately, for all of us, that change didn’t make it out of committee.

Instead, the new Consumer Protection Act redefines what counts towards that million-dollar net worth, and has specifically stated that an investor’s home cannot be used in the calculation (which, as I’m sure you can imagine, was a common way for investors to qualify for this status).  The bill has also put more responsibility on the entity to ensure each investor is making a truthful claim about their status when signing those subscription documents.

Will this small change have a big effect on how we raise money for shows?  Too soon to tell, since the bill just went into law.  I’ll give you an update when I’m in the trenches raising money for my next show.

What do I think of this change?  I can’t argue with it, honestly.  I’ve always thought the definition was a bit loose, and while I don’t think any Broadway investors are blind to the risks involved with what we do, we have to remember that this law applies to all of the other businesses out there in the world who may not be as forthright in their risk disclosure as we are (the hedge fund industry comes to mind).

While I can’t complain about it, I do wish there was an easier way for the smaller investor to get into the game.  As we’ve seen by the major moves in the stock market over the last couple years, it’s not like opening an e-trade account means less risk!

For more on the Reform Act, click here.

5 MORE Takeaways from the Get Your Show Off The Ground Seminar.

Last Saturday, another great group of super passionate producers, writers, artists and more woke up early and spent the day with me and the other entrepreneurial artists who signed up for my Get Your Show Off The Ground Seminar.

We had a blast.

We heard about all sorts of projects at various stages of development.  We talked about finding and signing collaborators, how to wear multiple hats on multiple projects, and yes, you guessed it, we talked about how to raise all those important funds.  And everyone walked away with a to-do list that they were psyched to check off.

While it’s impossible to recreate the energy of the room in a blog, I thought I’d do what I did after the last seminar, and post five simple takeaways that resonated with the group, that will hopefully resonate with you.

  • Creating experiential entertainment has never been more important than it is today.
  • The nicer the theater you put your show in, the higher the expectations from your audience and the press, will be.
  • Your agents and your lawyers work for you.  You do not work for them.
  • Developing scripts can be like sick children.  And if your kid isn’t getting better, don’t stick with your one doctor.  Take him/her to the best doctor you can afford.
  • Just because your show doesn’t belong on Broadway, doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong.

There was a ton of other great stuff that came out of the seminar, and so much of it came from the participants themselves!  These seminars have turned into great collaborative think tanks of some of the most exciting and emerging theatrical minds I’ve seen.  Thanks for being so awesome, guys.

If you’d like to participate in one of my seminars, sign up today by clicking here. The next seminar will be on Saturday, November 13th. (The timing is ideal for all of you post-festival peeps curious about what to do AFTER the festival.)  FYI, I’ve modified the structure a bit to make the seminar more efficient, but that also means that there are only 12 spots available.  These spots will go fast, so register today.

Click here for more info and we’ll see you there!

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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