My 5 Friday Finds: A hiring tip that saved me time.

Happy Freezing Friday for those of you in the Northeast!  Here are a few finds to keep you cozy.

  1. A hiring hack.

I recently posted a classified ad looking for a new CFO (although the folks are big investments for small companies, a great CFO should pay for himself/herself and then some . . . so how can you NOT invest in one?).

Knowing I would get a hundred-plus resumes (177 to be exact), I needed a way to weed out some of the folks that didn’t have the attention to detail I needed.

So, in order for a potential candidate to get to the 3rd round, they had to answer 10 questions ranging from what show they saw last, to what software they were proficient in, to whether or not they ever owned their own business.

But it wasn’t the questions that made it easy for me to filter the responses into keep or trash.  In addition to the 10 Q’s, I also asked the candidates to respond to my email by replacing the subject with “CFO – 2nd Round [LAST NAME]”.

You would be AMAZED as to how many people didn’t do that simple task.  The responses fell in three buckets:

1)  People who did it perfectly right.
2)  People who did it half-right.
3)  People who didn’t even pay attention at all.

And not coincidentally, the 1’s were the best qualified . . . and they got interviews.

If you’re looking for a CFO or an intern, try this trick. Saves you OODLES of time.

  1. BroadwayCon is about the Business of Broadway too!

BroadwayCon isn’t just for people who want to dress up like Elphaba.  If you want to learn about the biz of Broadway check out “Industry Day” at this year’s BwayCon on Friday, Jan 11th.  The day is curated by Broadway Thought Leader, Damian Bazadona of Situation Interactive (and my TEDxBroadway co-founder), so expect smart things.  Get tix here.

  1. Avenue Q is only “for now.”

Back in 2008 (!), years before Avenue Q downsized from Broadway to Off, I blogged about the concept.

I just blogged about it.  But it took courageous Producers like Kevin McCollum, Jeffrey Seller, and Robyn Goodman to actually give it a shot.  (Thankfully they allowed us to General Manage it.)

Boy, did their guts pay off.  Q ran longer OFF Broadway than it did on Broadway.

Other shows have tried this move and it didn’t quite work.  Why? Was it because we GM’ed it?  Haha.  I’d like to think that’s part of it.  But I’m going to blog about the three reasons why this worked so well next week.  Sign up to make sure you don’t miss the blog.

In the meantime, get your tickets now.

  1. The Coat.

This year’s in-demand Christmas gift isn’t a toy.  It’s a coat.  Seriously.  If you google “The Coat,” it’ll come up.  That’s some powerful buzz.  Why is it such a thing?  Cheap.  Fashionable.  Useful.  I bought one for my wife.  Check it here.   DON’T TELL HER!  😉

  1. I sent Christmas cards this year.

Want one?  Email me and I’ll send you one.

Not too late to get your holiday gifts.  “The Coat” may be out of stock but this and this are, and they’re perfect for the Broadway fans on your list.

Book Ken Davenport as a Speaker for Your Event!


Email or call 212-874-5348 for more information about booking Ken to speak at your next event.




An idea I don’t know how to execute. Maybe you do?

Ok, problem . . . theater tickets are too expensive.

Solution?  Who the @#$% knows?!?

(Actually, the truth is, there are plenty of inexpensive seats to lots of theater, from Off-off Broadway shows to Off-Broadway to yes, even to Broadway shows.  When people say theater tickets are too expensive, they’re generally talking about the most in-demand shows and the most in-demand seats on the most in-demand days.  Which is the equivalent of saying, “Mercedes-Benz is too expensive!  And Telsa, well, don’t even get me started!”  Know what I mean?  There are other cars to buy and plenty of incentives (i.e. discounts) that make that purchase more accessible.)

Don’t get me wrong, of course, I’d love to see even more affordable ways for people to see theater, wherever that is.  I’m often walking up and down the streets wondering how to get more butts in seats, while at the same time paying the high costs of our labor-intensive industry.  And the other day, while riding the subway, and watching someone play Mario Kart on their Samsung, I got an idea. . . that I have no effin’ idea what to do with.

So I thought I’d throw it out to all of you.

Another form of entertainment that’s super expensive?  Video games.  The Mercedes of this industry can be around $60 or higher per game.  Now, that may not seem like a lot compared to one orchestra ticket for Hamiltonbut when you consider the demographics of the video game purchaser, it might as well be the same.

And this is a special problem for mobile game manufacturers.  It has always been challenging to sell a game for a smartphone, because the functionality is less than a desktop, and frankly, there are so many free games available.

So what did the video game companies do?

They added in-game purchases.

You want special features for your character in your favorite middle-ages era role-playing game?  Buy ’em for $1.99.

You want to get a tip on your mobile trivia challenge?  $.99.

The gaming companies are getting you to in their doors for cheap (or nothing!) and then they find a way to charge you when you’re in the door.

Software companies even have “free versions” to get you hooked and when you want a special feature that makes the software actually function, BAM, you gotta pay.

I couldn’t but wonder if there was an application for this theory in the theater.  One could argue that food and beverage or merch income is a version of this idea in action (although on Broadway, we don’t control f&b – all that cash goes to the theater owner).  And certainly, we’re not going to stop a show to ask for $5.99 from every audience member to listen to the heroine sing a higher note than what is in the “free” version. (Although I’d love to see this at a charity gala . . . can you imagine waiting for someone to bid $10,000 for Idina Menzel to sing an optional higher note in “Let It Go“?)

What do you think?  Is there a way to get butts in seats for less, and then have additional and OPTIONAL income provided by those who want whatever ‘extra’ we have to offer?

I haven’t cracked this yet.  And maybe it shouldn’t be cracked.

But sometimes it’s the craziest of all ideas that morph into something that makes sense . . . and cents.

You have an idea?


GUEST BLOG: Do You Have a License for That? by Jason Cocovinis

What is Licensing?

Over the past ten years, I have had the privilege of working as the Director of Marketing at Music Theatre International.  But before my time with the company, my awareness and understanding of licensing was limited.  I understood the general principles behind intellectual property and copyright, but I didn’t realize theatrical licensing was such an important part of my early exposure to theatre in general.  In addition to seeing many professional Broadway productions, I participated in and sat as an audience member for many school and community theatre productions – all made possible through performance rights granted by theatrical licensing companies.

Seeing a licensing company’s name and logo in a program for the show I was about to experience was about the extent that I thought about this aspect of the industry.  I figured the school or theatre had to pay for the rights to do the show and also pay the company for the scripts and scores used by the performers.  While this is true and an integral part of the process, there is so much more to licensing than the commerce between the producing organization and the licensing company.  A theatrical licensor is the steward of a theatrical property, acting on behalf of the creators/authors of a play or musical.  This means ensuring that every single performance of an author’s work is performed exactly as that author intended so that the artistic (and legal) integrity of the work is maintained and protected.  As a creative person who has dabbled in writing and performing myself, it gave me a great sense of purpose and gratification knowing that I was helping protect another artist’s work and building a legacy by exposing it to performers and audiences around the world.

So how exactly does licensing work and what is a theatrical organization signing up for when they license a musical from MTI?

Grand Rights and Royalties

It all starts with a Grand Right.  A Grand Right is the intellectual property / copyright retained by the creators of a show that allows them or their duly appointed representatives (in this case, MTI) to decide who may perform the show, where it may be performed, how it may be performed and how much will be charged for the privilege of using their work.  A Grand Right reflects the totality of a musical property in question – it covers everything from the first note of the overture to the last bow in the finale (and all the dialogue and songs in between).

If an organization wants to perform a song from a musical in a concert or cabaret setting, that’s known as a small right and is controlled by a different type of licensor.  But as soon as there is any dialogue, costumes or staging, it becomes a Grand or dramatic right because said performance includes more than simply singing a song – it contains elements of the full dramatic work created by the author.

For Grand Rights, MTI acts on behalf of an author/rightsholder by granting a license to produce the show.  We then collect a fee, known as a royalty.  MTI will charge material rental fees along with a security deposit, but the main fee is the royalty which we collect on behalf of our authors.  Royalties are the way authors (usually a bookwriter, a composer and a lyricist) are paid for the use of their intellectual property.

Performance Licenses and Making Changes

One of the most frequent issues MTI deals with is communicating with customers about making changes to a show.

Built into each and every performance license is specific language that governs how the copyrighted work must be presented.  MTI’s responsibilities include enforcing copyright law as it pertains to Grand Rights (e.g., prohibiting changes to the show, monitoring unlicensed productions, etc.), as well as protecting certain productions from competition in geographical markets.

Sometimes a director or producer may believe that some changes are required to make the show work for their community or theatre.  They may want to make “minor adjustments” to a show (such as changing the gender of a character, changing the name of a town to give it local significance, changing a line of dialogue, adding songs that appeared in the movie version of the musical, etc.).

If an organization wishes to make a change, no matter how big or small, MTI requires the organization to provide a detailed, written account of the suggested edits along with a strong rationale for doing so.  MTI maintains very good relationships with our authors and rightsholders, so depending on the show, MTI will present an organization’s request to the authors to see if an accommodation can be made.  In some cases, authors/rightsholders may have a standard response if the issue has come up before.  Whatever the case, the authors’ decision is final and without obtaining prior written permission from MTI, any changes violate the authors’ rights under federal and international copyright law.

It is always best to ask for permission, not forgiveness.  MTI strives to educate its customers and make organizations aware of these stipulations in our contracts so that less time is spent on enforcement and more time can be spent celebrating customers’ productions.


Jason Cocovinis is the Director of Marketing for Music Theatre International – one of the world’s leading theatrical licensing agencies, granting theatres from around the world the rights to perform the greatest selection of musicals from Broadway and beyond. Founded in 1952 by composer Frank Loesser and orchestrator Don Walker, MTI is a driving force in advancing musical theatre as a vibrant and engaging art form.

MTI works directly with the composers, lyricists and book writers of these musicals to provide official scripts, musical materials, and dynamic theatrical resources to over 70,000 professional, community and school theatres in the US and in over 60 countries worldwide.

MTI is particularly dedicated to educational theatre and has created special collections to meet the needs of various types of performers and audiences. MTI’s Broadway Junior™ shows are 30- and 60-minute musicals for performance by elementary and middle school-aged performers, while MTI’s School Editions are musicals annotated for performance by high school students.

MTI maintains its global headquarters in New York City with additional offices in London (MTI Europe) and Melbourne (MTI Australasia).

Broadway Grosses w/e 12/9/2018: Holiday Shoppers Choose Broadway

Broadway Grosses w/e 12/9/2018: Holiday Shoppers Choose Broadway

Broadway was back to business last week with the hustle and bustle we’ve grown accustomed to for December. Overall grosses jumped 6% this week topping $40M. With 38 productions on the boards, it’s as jam-packed as we’ve seen in several years.

The Cher Show and Network are both SRO* following their opening nights, while To Kill A Mocking Bird continues to pull in equally strong audiences for their previews.

You can find the rest of the figures below, courtesy of The Broadway League:

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
ALADDIN $1,452,633.80 13,361 96.71% $108.72
AMERICAN SON $600,986.00 4,919 79.44% $122.18
ANASTASIA $731,978.29 7,433 81.29% $98.48
BEAUTIFUL $822,372.10 7,087 86.34% $116.04
CHICAGO $630,747.20 7,255 83.97% $86.94
COME FROM AWAY $1,198,285.56 8,513 101.73% $140.76
DEAR EVAN HANSEN $1,496,710.20 7,988 101.47% $187.37
FROZEN $1,965,553.00 13,279 98.57% $148.02
HAMILTON $2,945,976.00 10,734 101.57% $274.45
HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD, PARTS ONE AND TWO $2,035,259.00 12,976 100.00% $156.85
HEAD OVER HEELS $208,970.25 3,595 46.66% $58.13
KING KONG $1,063,913.75 11,422 82.15% $93.15
KINKY BOOTS $777,360.15 8,005 70.27% $97.11
MEAN GIRLS $1,349,599.35 9,601 97.97% $140.57
MY FAIR LADY $1,165,341.50 8,220 96.12% $141.77
NETWORK $960,415.00 8,229 101.34% $116.71
ONCE ON THIS ISLAND $413,734.90 4,958 89.04% $83.45
PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL $1,266,873.00 9,165 98.08% $138.23
SCHOOL OF ROCK $811,958.70 8,829 72.46% $91.96
SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY $2,415,700.00 4,740 100.00% $509.64
SUMMER $609,962.50 6,694 56.92% $91.12
THE BAND’S VISIT $825,105.14 7,428 89.36% $111.08
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,241,820.50 8,681 103.64% $143.05
THE CHER SHOW $1,105,175.00 11,072 100.29% $99.82
THE FERRYMAN $1,002,042.80 7,215 88.51% $138.88
THE ILLUSIONISTS – MAGIC OF THE HOLIDAYS $1,047,880.00 11,114 84.81% $94.28
THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT $808,372.50 6,578 81.90% $122.89
THE LION KING $2,329,610.00 13,459 99.20% $173.09
THE NEW ONE $259,721.50 4,449 51.83% $58.38
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $928,941.20 10,227 79.65% $90.83
THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG $310,882.32 4,723 69.13% $65.82
THE PROM $588,277.35 6,756 80.81% $87.07
THE WAVERLY GALLERY $458,291.50 5,738 91.14% $79.87
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD $1,327,227.72 11,600 101.05% $114.42
TORCH SONG $230,878.00 3,232 69.06% $71.44
WAITRESS $660,027.50 6,603 78.98% $99.96
WICKED $2,000,580.00 14,667 98.23% $136.40
TOTALS $40,149,570.28 314,249 85.80% $124.11
+/- THIS WEEK LAST SEASON +$4,889,319.65      

Today’s blog was guest-written by Ryan Conway, General Manager for DTE Management. Find out more here!

*Standing Room Only