Updates: October 2017

October 1, 2017

 

CORRECTION: In the Union chapter as well as in each individual mention of a union, it should be noted that New York is not a “Right to Work” State – which means Unions can compel an employee to join.

Even though my union ATPAM and most other Broadway unions have a Union Security Clause in their contracts (known as the “30 day rule”), first time contract signers are rarely compelled to join a union. But if they are signed to a second contract job, unions will make them take out their checkbook and pay initiation dues and work dues.

 

CHAPTER 15 (Actors)

Carrying the Equity card is often considered a rite of passage for American actors, with many artists waiting years for an opportunity to join the union. As it stands, basic dues are $118 per year. Working dues come in at 2.25 percent of gross earnings up to $300,000 earned under Equity contracts. Now after a historic vote, members have overwhelmingly approved a dues increase adding $50 for basic dues in the first year, and rising incrementally to reach a final amount of $176/year.

 

CHAPTER 5 (Marketing, Promotion)

The Shubert Organization, the largest owner of Broadway theaters, has recently incorporated a program called “Persado” into its email marketing. Persado learns which “subject line” content engages customers most and adjusts on-the-fly to improve chances that customers will open the email (“open rates”) and improve chances that customers will them buy tickets (“conversion rates”). “Big Brother” is close at hand. 

 

Chapter 10: (Producing and investing)

            As expected, 3 more 2017 shows bit the dust around Labor Day. August is a tough month, but early September is even tougher.

 

Chapter 14 (Press Agents)

            New salary rates for Press Agents are as follows:

$2,271.54 minimum for press agents + 8.5% vacation weekly (plus health/pension)

 

Chapter 18 (Managers)

            New salary rates for Company & House managers are as follows:

$2,124.16 minimum for managers + 8.5% vacation weekly (plus health and pension)

 

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Updates: September 2017

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September 1, 2017

 

Chapter 10: (Producing and investing)

As expected, 3 more 2017 shows bit the dust around Labor Day. August is a tough month, but early September is even tougher.

 

Chapter 14 (Press Agents)

New salary rates for Press Agents are as follows:

$2,271.54 minimum for press agents + 8.5% vacation weekly (plus health/pension)

 

Chapter 18 (Managers)

            New salary rates for Company & House managers are as follows:

$2,124.16 minimum for managers + 8.5% vacation weekly (plus health and pension)

 

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Updates: July 2017

August 1, 2017
 
Chapter 5 (Marketing), 10 (Producing), 13 (Box office)
WICKED is now the second largest money-maker in Broadway history, surpassing PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. No doubt that Premium seat prices and "Dynamic Pricing" (that has only been used since the early 2000's) are to "blame". The audience size is about the same, but the ticket prices are much higher. The investors are happy, but what about the base theater audience from the middle class? Supply and demand? Results justify the means?
 
Chapter 9: (Selling a flop, hit, or moderately-well-received show)
Case in point: NATASHA, PIERRE AND THE GREAT COMET OF 1812. Producers often replace original actors with TV and film celebrities even when the original unknown actor was superb. This is a regrettable decision, sometimes causing pain for the original cast and adding a tone of dismay over the production.  When Josh Groban left Tony nominated GREAT COMET, he took with it a large portion of its commercial appeal. This multi-ethnic show replaced him with an excellent but unfamiliar African-American actor and then as soon as a box-office draw was available (Mandy Patinkin), cut short the run of the African-American actor. That did not play well with other theater folk and the headlines were damaging enough for Mandy Patinkin to bow out from a three-week-only run. Now the show has no one to play the lead, and box office proceeds are dropping by the day. They are talking about closing the show.
The power of celebrity is often stronger than the value of a good production.
 
Chapter 10: (Producing and investing)
Showing the power of winning the Tony Award for Best Musical, DEAR EVAN HANSEN is the first musical of the 2016/17 season to recoup its original investment. It's all profit from here on out. On the other hand, there have been multiple closings of shows that received other Tony Awards and/or nominations.

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Updates: June 2017

Chapter 4 (19 Unions)

Casting directors, who are hired on as consultants to help theatrical directors weed through the thousands of potential actors they might have to audition under Actors’ Equity rules, are the only major creative staff not protected by a union, even though other unions like ATPAM (Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers) have invited them in earlier years to organize and join.

Very recently, a group of casting directors have joined Teamster Local 817 and have written to the Broadway League (representing Producers and Theatre Owners) for recognition in the negotiation process. The Broadway League is reported to have responded with a firm no.

We’ll see. Could this be Broadway’s 20th union?

 

Chapter 10 (Investing and Producing: “Rebecca” lawsuit concludes)

Not sure where to file this news within the context of our Table of Contents, but it is significant to learn that the Producers of the ill-fated musical “Rebecca” that shut down operations one day before going into rehearsal, has both won and lost their lawsuit against the show’s press representative.

The Press Agent was ordered to pay $90,000 in damages to the Producers who claim to owe their original investors millions since the money was never legally available for use on the production. NYS law says you must have the full capitalization/investment in the bank before going into rehearsal. After discovering that its major investor was a con artist (currently in jail) and another investor never existed, the press agent secretly warned a new investor that this production was in trouble, thereby losing the new investor’s funding.

Obviously there are many, many more details to this story, but the biggest loss is that the option to produce the musical on Broadway has expired and therefore there will be no future production by these producers…ever.

 

Chapter 13 (Box office)

2017 stats show that while many staples (food, clothing, cellphones, computers, etc.) have come down in cost over the past 15 years, the biggest increases are found in theatre ticket prices, transportation, and toll charges into Manhattan. Perhaps that is why there is a drop in the number of suburbanites attending Broadway theater.

 

Chapter 15 (Actors’ Equity and diversity)

Furthering the data offered in our book, we now quote from the 2017 casting report compiled by Actors’ Equity Association.

In brief, Equity east coast membership of 32,193 is equally divided in terms of gender: 49.6% female/50.4% male. However, 60% of all principal contracts (for leading and featured roles) went to men, 40% to women.

In terms of ethnicity and race, 71% of all principal contracts (for leading and featured roles) went to Caucasian actors, 8 percent to African-American actors, 2 percent to Hispanic and 1.5% to Asian-American actors. 74% of all stage management jobs went to Caucasians.

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Updates: The Business of Broadway – May 2017

Tony! Tony! Tony! Tonys!

Yup, it’s Tonys season! Any moment now, we will find out the nominees for the 71st Annual Tony Awards. This year’s host will be Kevin Spacey. We have some updates for Chapter 6 along with a map showing you where The Tonys matter the most in the U.S. Hint: It’s what you thought!

http://www.justlearnsomething.us/updates-the-business-of-broadway-may-2017/

 

What shows are you looking forward to seeing? Enter another question here!

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Updates: May 2017

May 1, 2017

**US states show interest in the Tony Awards.

Chapter 6 (Tony Awards):

The Tony Awards nominations will be announced Tuesday May 2nd at 8:30am leading to weeks of increased marketing for those who are nominated, and especially for those who are not. It’s fascinating to watch how press representatives manuever and manipulate the media.

Social media bumps happen the day after the Tony nominations are released. Those nominated for Best Musical or Musical Revival see a 90% increase in social media activity (compared to the day before). Musicals that do not receive a nomination get a 20% increase. There are still no solid statistics if social media brings in ticket sales. However, a Tony nomination will definitely help.

The other categories of nominations have little if any effect on ticket sales. And if you look at the attached map**, you will see that a very small portion of the country cares about the Tony Awards at all.

On the positive side, the Tony Awards brings the magic of great theater to the world and creates the mystique of Broadway for tourists visiting NYC. As already mentioned in the book, the cost of performing on the Tony Awards is not small. There are a lot of considerations for producers when deciding how to spend their promotional dollars.

 

** See attached map of which US states show interest in the Tony Awards.

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Updates: The Business of Broadway – April 2017

If you want to be a producer, Chapter 10 is for you. This month’s updates are all about producers!

Updates: April 2017

What shows are you looking forward to seeing? Enter another question here!

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Don’t have a copy of the book yet? Get it anywhere books are sold!

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