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.

The right to vote . . . restored! Kind of.

Last week, a compromise was reached between the Tony Awards and the critical press after almost a year of a very public and tense standoff.

Here’s what happened:

On July 14, 2009, the Tonys sent all the reviewers on the “First Night Press List” (those who are invited to see shows on opening night or before) a letter saying that their Tony voter status had been revoked.  An excerpt from the letter stated the following reasons for the change:


Please note that this change in no way affects your inclusion on the First Night Press List. As you know, a committee of Broadway press agents develops and administers the First Night Press List, and it does not fall under the purview of Tony Award Productions, The Broadway League, or the American Theatre Wing.

In making this decision, the Tony Management Committee took into account that members of the First Night Press List will of course continue to have the opportunity to express their critical opinions in reviews and other coverage of the theatre season. In addition, the Management Committee took into consideration the fact that certain publications and individual critics have historically pursued a policy of abstaining from voting on entertainment awards in general, to avoid any possible conflicts of interest in fulfilling their primary responsibilities as journalists.”

Ok. Makes sense.  If the Tony Awards don’t control the list, you can see why they might be concerned about who is able to cast a ballot.  Can you imagine a co-op board allowing someone to vote for a building amendment if they didn’t have a say in who was living in the building?  

But, you can without a doubt see the side of the critics who jumped up and down concerned about the lack of the critical voice in the block of voters.  

All in all, about 100 people’s privileges were revoked.  And a lot of those 100 people were very vocal about their displeasure.  

Last week, the Tonys listened.

It was announced on March 25, 2010, less than two months before voting begins, that members of the Drama Critics’ Circle, a group that has been around since 1935, a group that has membership guidelines, structure, meetings, executive leadership and their own awards, will be allowed to cast a vote for the Tony Awards.

While this will still leave several of those first nighters without a vote, I think this was a wonderful compromise that allows the Tonys to establish more of a structure to the body of voters, while ensuring that this body is made up of the most diverse group of contributors to our unique world.  

Critics have a place in this world.  And they should have a vote.  I’m now thankful that they do.

Oh, by the way, I would have linked to the Variety article about this subject . . . but they’ve put their stories behind a e-wall now.  I wonder how that’s gonna work out for them. Here’s a Theatermania article instead.

To read more about the Drama Critics’ Circle, click here.

Advice from an Expert: Vol. VII. She sold her show on MySpace. Here’s how you can too.

At a New Producer’s Panel of The Broadway League last night, the topic was social networking and just what it could do for shows already running and those still trying to get out of the starting blocks.

No one knows more about starting their show off with some social networking than my own Ryann “Fergie” Ferguson, who works in my office by day and writes musicals by night.

Here’s what happened to VOTE! The Musical, thanks to Web 2.0, in Fergie’s own words.

One of the biggest questions we faced once our musical, VOTE!, was “done” and we had put on our first private industry only reading, was how we would be able to continue in our process of refining/work shopping it.  Our answer came in the form of a new model of both getting shows produced, as well as finding material to produce.

From the beginning, we wanted to utilize the internet to reach a young audience that was right for our show.  We started with a MySpace page.  We posted songs and even made a music video.  One of our fav cast members, Andrew Keenan Bolger, vloged about it.  We made an effort to put out as much material from the show as we possibly could for critique and to build a fan base.

And we got critique.  And we got a fan base.  And you know what else we got?  We got several offers from young aspiring producers who wanted to premiere the show at their college, community theatre or Fringe Festival!  We had offers from as far as Australia and London, but ultimately, we decided to stay a little closer to home when got an offer from a young producer in Indiana named Eric Anderson, who really seemed to get what we were all about.

Eric contacted us directly about premiering the work regionally with students and creative team from the Indiana University Theatre Department.  My co-writer and I saw it as a great opportunity to workshop the show during a five week rehearsal period (five weeks of rehearsal in NYC is a luxury almost no young writers/producers can afford).  And we even got them to use our director!

I had a bit of separation anxiety turning over the show at this stage in its young life, but knowing that our director would be there to oversee made the process easier.  And, the internet and social networks have kept us closer than we could have been just a few short years ago.  We helped cast the show by watching videos of the auditions, and we’ve tracked progress and any script changes by watching frequent YouTube video postings of rehearsals.

I’m headed out there for the final two rehearsals and openings and, so far, I would recommend the experience to anyone with a show . . . and a social network.

Fergie hit the developmental lottery here.  Remember her first two goals:  build a fan base and get critique?  She just found a way to get both of those on a bigger scale . . . while someone else is paying for it . . . while it’s all under the watchful eye of her trusted director.

The lesson?  There are people out there that want to do your show, if it’s what their audience is looking for, and if it’s good.  You’ve got to find them . . . and make sure they can find you.  And, surprise, surprise, social networking is a great way to get discovered.

It’s happened for many a musician.  It can happen to musicals.

If you’re going to be in Indiana on March 6,7 or 8th, check out VOTE!  Here’s how.  And look for Ferg . . . she’ll be the one that looks like a mom the day her baby quits crawling, and takes that first little step.

If any of you have sold your show on MySpace or the web, comment away and share your strategy.