The Sunday Giveaway: 2 Tickets to Rain.

The first concert I ever went to when I was a kid was Beatlemania. And I got so hooked on The Beatles that I bought The Blue Album, The Red Album, and The White Album.  If they had an album, and it had a color, I bought it.

One of things I remember about the concert was that the audience was filled with senior citizens, middle-aged couples, and kids like me.

I went to see Rain, the new Beatles experience on Broadway, about a month ago. In the middle of the show, I looked around at the audience and saw . . . senior citizens, middle aged couples, and kids (not like me).  In fact, right behind me were 6 teenage girls who might as well have been at a Bieber concert.  They were screaming, they knew every lyric to every song, and they kept talking about the singer’s haircut.

If you have ever wondered what classic material is, The Beatles are it.  They’ve stood the test of a time.  They are to music what Michaelango is to art.

If you’re our lucky winner this week, you’ll be able to see those generation-bending audiences first hand, because we’ve got 2 free tickets to see Rain on Broadway!

Here’s this week’s game:

Did you know that on their famous first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Beatles performed a showtune?  If not, click here to see it.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if today’s pop artists did the same thing?  Beyonce perfoming ‘For Good’ from Wicked on The Tonight Show, or even The Bieber doing ‘I’m Alive’ from Next to Normal on SNL.

In the spirit of last week’s contest, comment below on what pop artist you would most want to see perform a show tune today in their own style.

I’ll pick a winner from one of the commenters.

Go!  And good luck!


– The next Get Your Show Off The Ground seminar is Saturday, April 2nd.  Register today.



2 Ways to get rid of discounting on Broadway forever.

I promised this blog for yesterday, then bumped it to today.

And now I feel like a guy who is about to tell a joke and quickly realizes his audience has heard it before.

Because my two ways of decreasing discounting on Broadway are not that revelatory.  In fact, they are so simple, you’ll probably want to electronically punch me in the face for hyping the thought that I had a from-the-mountain-top type of answer to solve Broadway’s discounting ills.

So, without further a-doo-doo, here they are:

1.  Make better shows.

Great shows sell tickets.  Full price tickets.  Now the real question is, “What makes a show ‘better’?”  As I’ve said before, people aren’t price resistant . . . they are value resistant.  They have no problem paying full price plus some when they feel the value of the experience outweighs the cost.  What increases value?  Great writing, big stars, big belly laughs, sloppy tears, spectacle, etc.  It varies for every audience.  Find out what your audience values and do more of that.  If you want a clue as to what the Broadway audience values, well, that’s easy . . . just look at what shows sell out and at full price.  You might not like what you see, but that’s the story, morning glory.

2.  Produce less shows.

There are a pretty fixed number of people that see Broadway shows every year.  It varies by a few percentage points every year (and this year it’s going back in the right direction, thank whomever you pray to), but it stays somewhat constant.  If we reduced our supply for those wanna-see-a-show folks, discounting would decrease, because customers would end up fighting over seats, rather than waiting to get a discount offer in their inbox.  Less supply, greater demand.  It’s Econ 101.

So there are my two ways to get rid of discounting.  What do you think?  Want to e-punch me yet?  I kind of do, because they’re both “duh” ideas.  #1 – We’re all trying to create better shows, right?  No one sets out to create crap (although I do think we can get a lot better at remembering who our audience is before we spend a few million bucks).

And #2?  People aren’t just going to stop producing. And that’s the great thing about this country, this city, and our business.  If you’ve got an idea that you’re passionate about–so passionate that you can convince other people to follow you and put up a few million (and you can get a theater)–well, then, by golly, you should be able to produce your show.  But, since there are only a fixed number of people that see Broadway shows per year, and since there seems to be more available theater seats than that number, you best be prepared to discount.

Discounting is here to stay (and actually it ain’t that new, it’s just more out in the open).  The modern consumer doesn’t just want a discount, they feel entitled to one.

So trying to get rid of discounts altogether is futile.

What we can do is get a lot smarter about how we use them.

– – – – –


– Enter The Sunday Giveaway!  Win 2 tickets to see Billy Elliot The Musical on Broadway!  Click here and enter today!

– The next Get Your Show Off The Ground seminar is Saturday, April 2nd.  Register today.


The shortest distance between advertising and a purchase is a straight line.

I heard a great radio spot for Wicked on WPLJ the other day.  It had a Valentine’s Day theme, so it was fresh and timely.  It featured a climactic and dramatic piece of music that emphasized the story.  And it left me wanting more.  It was easy to see why someone would be inclined to buy tickets after hearing it.

But where would they buy tickets?

The call-to-action at the end of the commercial was something like this:

“For tickets, visit!”

If I was a 1980s robot, this is where I’d say, “Beep-boo-bop-bleep.  Does not compute.  Does not compute.  Beep-boo-bleep!”

Why would we send someone to Ticketmaster, a Walmart style ticketing department store, when we could send them straight to  I’ll tell you why. Because Ticketmaster makes us.

Does not compute!

Here’s the problem with the flow.

– Customer hears Wicked commercial.

– Customer goes to Ticketmaster.

– Customer then sees the home page of Ticketmaster, which looks like this and promotes everything from Katy Perry to the NBA to the Circus.  In other words, it has a lot of distractions, so your risk of losing the customer increases.

But it’s not over yet.

– Customer then has to search for Wicked by typing it into the search box or clicking around.  The risk of losing the customer increases yet again, and there is room for error, frustration, and bears oh my.

– If a customer does type in Wicked, this is what the search results show . . . and it’s like a scavenger hunt to find the date and CITY that you want (because I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the show is quite the hit).  You guessed it . . . risk increases again, and your conversion rate has now dropped by a pretty healty percent, I would imagine.

Now imagine this . . .

“Buy Tickets at”

– Customer goes to Wicked‘s main site, and Wicked is able to get the customer more on the hook with images, music (perhaps the same as is heard in the commercial) etc., instead of risk losing that lead to any of the other events on the TM home page.  More hooked, rather than less.  Sounds good to me.

– There is a simple and easy to read Buy Tickets button on the home page.  See for yourself.

– And when the customer clicks on Broadway, for example, this is what they see . . . a straight through shot to exactly what they want.

Less clicks, less confusion and most importantly, Wicked‘s conversion rates increase . . . because you’ve gotten the customer to the cash register faster, which we know is more important than ever in the 2010s, which I’ve termed The Era of Distraction.

Why does Ticketmaster want the customer to go through their site?  Got me . . .

– They are not losing any money, because Wicked still ports the customer through to their site, so the full  service fees remain intact.

– Ditto with the data.  They still capture it all.

– The conversation rates for the advertising should increase, which should actually earn them more money.

– And, their customer’s experience is cleaner.

I guess they lose a bit of branding?  But really?  Is that worth more than the above?  I don’t think so.  And besides, isn’t it time they start realized that it’s the shows people want to see, not the ticketing sites.

The best e-commerce solutions I’ve seen are when there doesn’t seem to be e-commerce at all.  It’s . . . well . . . seamless.  We seem to be doing the opposite and actually calling attention to the fact that the customer is spending money.

Does not compute.

We’re sending people around the bend to get our product. It’s like driving a mile out of the way to get a gallon of milk, when you’ve got a store right next door that sells it for the exact same price.

And not only does this not compute, but it makes me say, “What the bleep?”

– – – – –

Enter to win this Sunday’s Giveaway: 2 tickets to see Pippin star Ben Vereen! Click here!

Institutions can have personalities, too.

I recently got an email from a non-profit here in the city asking me for money.  The message said, “Please give me money.  Signed, Institution.”

Then I got an email from the Scott Elliot, the Artistic Director of the outstanding New Group, asking me to subscribe.  In addition to a much more personal letter (it was signed simply, “Scott”), the email also featured a nice photo of Scott.

Obviously, you know which one I was more inclined to support.

But it goes beyond that.

In addition to this appeal being much more likely to succeed because of the personal nature of the communication, the strategy of attaching a person (with a face) to a institution has many more long term benefits.

Subscribers, donors, etc. are much more likely to support people . . . not buildings and not companies.  That’s why it’s essential for every non-profit, every building, and every company to have a face, or a personality, that represents the human component of what they do.

When I was in London recently, I went to see Deathtrap at the Noel Coward Theatre. When I opened my program, guess who greeted me with a letter?  Cameron Mackintosh! (Cameron owns the Noel Coward).  And the letter wasn’t just a “welcome to my theater” letter, but rather a letter that talked about the show, the actors, and more.

There are many companies around the country and in this city that are already using this strategy, but there is more that we can all do . . . and more rewards to reap from it.

Think you’ve got this covered?  Try my test to see if your company is successfully using personalization properly:  Ask 10 people who are casual visitors to your space what name comes to mind when you say the name of your venue. If they all don’t say the name of your Artistic Director, CEO, or whomever you want them to say within 3 seconds, you fail.  🙂

If you failed, or if you haven’t started yet, here are five things that person can do to expand his or her presence:


I think every Artistic Director should blog, and it should be available right on the home page. Describe your daily successes as well as the challenges you face.  Give insider scoop on upcoming shows (photos and more), etc.  In blog form, these entries might seem more journal-like, and less solicitation-like, and you might find yourself raising money passively throughout the year.


Every letter, ticket confirmation, and donation request should come from one voice . . . yours.  And include photos.


As often as you can, park yourself in front of the ticket takers and shake hands, get recognized, and meet as many of your customers as possible.  And don’t just talk to the Richie Riches.  Today’s single ticket buyer could be tomorrow’s subscriber.

And if you can be there at the end of the show to listen to people’s thoughts, complaints, feedback, etc., even better.


Take advice from Scott and insert your photos into your correspondence. I’d also put photos of you and your team by the box office, and other key places.  You want people to recognize you when you’re at the Duane Reade.


Your email should be plastered all over your site.  Let your subscribers, patrons, and more have direct access to you.  And respond. It’ll mean a lot to them . . . which will no doubt mean a lot to you.

Are these things that difficult to do?  No.  Do these things take time?  Yes.

But I have a feeling you think your institution or your company is worth it.

5 Shows that stand out at NYMF.

Six years ago, Altar Boyz debuted at the NYMF.  And it changed my life.

Yesterday, the 7th season of NYMF kicked off.

And hopefully, a lot of lives will be changed when it’s over.

If you don’t know NYMF, you should. If the Fringe Festival is the Walmart of theatrical offerings (and for the record, there is nothing wrong with Walmart – it’s got everything you could ever want and then some at “everyday low prices”), then NYMF is the Madison Avenue boutique of musicals.

During the voting at NYMF’s Next Broadway Sensation last Sunday, which I was honored to judge, I flipped through the catalog of shows to see what stood out to me.

Here are five shows that caught my show-shoppin’ eye (in reverse alphabetical order, because, well, you gotta do things differently every once in a while):

1.  V-Day

If you’ve been in NYC a while, then you’ve probably heard of the late night escapades of the Don’t Quit Your Night Job crew.  Well, two of the crew, including the funny-in-every-show-he’s-in Steve Rosen, took a day job and wrote a musical about the holiday we love to hate, Valentine’s Day.

2.  Show Choir

I had an idea for a show choir musical a few years ago, and even did some research over pizza with real show choir members to get some ideas.  It was a hysterical brainstorming session.  Dramas are about characters, and there are some kooks in show choirs around the country.  I remember thinking, “There’s a successful show here somewhere.”  Let’s see if these guys found it.

3.  My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wican Wedding

Just when you think the gag-wedding-title idea is played out, here comes another one . .  and it still makes you laugh.  Unless you have a star, nothing . . . nothing . . . sells a ticket more than a title.

4.  Jay Alan Zimmerman’s Incredibly Deaf Musical

Comedy is born in contrast, and when you put the word “Deaf” next to “Musical,” it says, “I’m funny, unique, and about a hero overcoming a challenge.”  I’d bet that some of your favorite shows, movies and books have the exact same elements.

5.  Bloodties

The blurb about Bloodties describes the story of Ned Massey who was once called, “the finest talent since Dylan and Springsteen.”  Umm,  you had me at Springsteen.  (And BTW, where’s that jukebox musical?  I inquired some time ago and haven’t heard much lately . . . I know I’d have produced the bandana out of that one.)

So there you have it . . . the 5 NYMF shows that jumped out of the catalog and, like Tommy, screamed, “See me!”

Now, remember, you all know how this game works.  I haven’t read the scripts, seen the readings, etc.  Instead, I put myself in the mind of an audience member and a Producer (aren’t they one in the same?), and relied solely on the marketing, the titles, and the teams to tell me what show to see.

What happens then?

Only one way to find out.

To get tickets to all NYMF shows, click here.