Updates: September 2018

Chapter 5 (Promotion and Marketing):

            How important is the Hispanic audience to Broadway? According to Univision Communications, more and more every year. In a report provided to the Broadway League (producers and theatre owners association), Univision stated that nationwide, Hispanics (Spanish-dominant or bilingual) spent $59.6 billion on entertainment in 2017 plus $87 billion on food and alcoholic beverages away from home. And the IHS Global Insight Hispanic Market Monitor anticipates a 40% growth in this figures.

            New York Hispanics spent $4.3 billion on entertainment last year and nearly 65% attended a Broadway show. 32% attended an Off-Broadway show. The “average” Hispanic attendee saw 5.1 events in the past year. Non Hispanics saw just 3/9 live events.

            Hamilton and John Leguizamo aside, there’s not much Hispanic representation on our stages. And still Hispanic audiences are going to see live entertainment in huge numbers. They are 36% more likely to learn about live events from commercials. And Hispanic Theatregoers tend to skew younger. 39% are between the ages of 18 and 34. This is a serious consideration when discussing building our audiences.

Chapter 10 (Producing & Investing):

            Investors in producer Scott Rudin’scelebrated revival of Hello, Dolly! (starring Bette Midler) that ended its intended limited engagement at the end of Summer 2018, have earned a profit of 10 percent, according to two people familiar with the production. (A note said more was on the way.)

            For angels seeking prestige, glamour and the satisfaction of helping to create a revival worthy of the iconic, 1964 original, Dolly!delivered and made them money. Others, however, expected more from a production that’s grossed $126 million. 

            The larger context is the background behind the complaints from investors. In order to get a piece of Dolly’s pie, most investors were required to put money into riskier projects on the producer’s slate, too. According to them, even a 15% profit on Dolly wouldn’t cover half the losses taken on Tony- winner A Doll’s House, Part 2orThe Glass Menagerie (starring Sally Field), both of which closed last year.

            An important lesson about “limited runs with famous names leading the cast.” The answer may rest with why investors invest at all. Is it a producer’s charm, the producer’s claims of success, an investor’s gullibility, the inherent risk of a Broadway show, or does the investor really believe they are going to make a lot of money? 

Chapter 10 (Producing & Investing):

            Lindy’s Deli on 7th Avenue, in Manhattan, is where some Broadway actors discussed their common observation that the longer any single play ran on Broadway, the longer it would run in regional theatres and anywhere off Broadway. It’s believed that this effect is relevant for Bitcoins as well. An asset gains a sort of stamina as it continues to survive against the odds, thereby demonstrating strength and the ability to attain longevity. Broadway, for example, is a competitive environment. People have evolving tastes, there are always different shows vying for the best audiences, and as a show ages it gets more difficult to sustain. 

            The longer a show has run on Broadway, the more credibility and notoriety is has earned. Off Broadway/Regional stages are eager to reproduce it in their own towns, lending longevity to the play. Both Bitcoin and a Broadway play are “unperishable ideas.” On Broadway, the best shows run for decades regardless of where they are or who plays the main roles. A few prominent blockchain ideas also “survive” in this manner and are able to persist despite increasing friction in the market—but the comparison isn’t perfect.

            And so statistician, author, and former trader Nassim Taleb writes in his book “Antifragile.” He calls this “The Lindy Effect” (comparing Broadway shows to Bitcoin evolutionary factors). Just another opinion…

# # #

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The Business of Broadway – September 2018

Chapter 5 (Promotion and Marketing):

            How important is the Hispanic audience to Broadway? According to Univision Communications, more and more every year. In a report provided to the Broadway League (producers and theatre owners association), Univision stated that nationwide, Hispanics (Spanish-dominant or bilingual) spent $59.6 billion on entertainment in 2017 plus $87 billion on food and alcoholic beverages away from home. And the IHS Global Insight Hispanic Market Monitor anticipates a 40% growth in this figures.

            New York Hispanics spent $4.3 billion on entertainment last year and nearly 65% attended a Broadway show. 32% attended an Off-Broadway show. The “average” Hispanic attendee saw 5.1 events in the past year. Non Hispanics saw just 3/9 live events.

            Hamilton and John Leguizamo aside, there’s not much Hispanic representation on our stages. And still Hispanic audiences are going to see live entertainment in huge numbers. They are 36% more likely to learn about live events from commercials. And Hispanic Theatregoers tend to skew younger. 39% are between the ages of 18 and 34. This is a serious consideration when discussing building our audiences.

Chapter 10 (Producing & Investing):

            Investors in producer Scott Rudin’scelebrated revival of Hello, Dolly! (starring Bette Midler) that ended its intended limited engagement at the end of Summer 2018, have earned a profit of 10 percent, according to two people familiar with the production. (A note said more was on the way.)

            For angels seeking prestige, glamour and the satisfaction of helping to create a revival worthy of the iconic, 1964 original, Dolly!delivered and made them money. Others, however, expected more from a production that’s grossed $126 million. 

            The larger context is the background behind the complaints from investors. In order to get a piece of Dolly’s pie, most investors were required to put money into riskier projects on the producer’s slate, too. According to them, even a 15% profit on Dolly wouldn’t cover half the losses taken on Tony- winner A Doll’s House, Part 2orThe Glass Menagerie (starring Sally Field), both of which closed last year.

            An important lesson about “limited runs with famous names leading the cast.” The answer may rest with why investors invest at all. Is it a producer’s charm, the producer’s claims of success, an investor’s gullibility, the inherent risk of a Broadway show, or does the investor really believe they are going to make a lot of money? 

Chapter 10 (Producing & Investing):

            Lindy’s Deli on 7th Avenue, in Manhattan, is where some Broadway actors discussed their common observation that the longer any single play ran on Broadway, the longer it would run in regional theatres and anywhere off Broadway. It’s believed that this effect is relevant for Bitcoins as well. An asset gains a sort of stamina as it continues to survive against the odds, thereby demonstrating strength and the ability to attain longevity. Broadway, for example, is a competitive environment. People have evolving tastes, there are always different shows vying for the best audiences, and as a show ages it gets more difficult to sustain. 

            The longer a show has run on Broadway, the more credibility and notoriety is has earned. Off Broadway/Regional stages are eager to reproduce it in their own towns, lending longevity to the play. Both Bitcoin and a Broadway play are “unperishable ideas.” On Broadway, the best shows run for decades regardless of where they are or who plays the main roles. A few prominent blockchain ideas also “survive” in this manner and are able to persist despite increasing friction in the market—but the comparison isn’t perfect.

            And so statistician, author, and former trader Nassim Taleb writes in his book “Antifragile.” He calls this “The Lindy Effect” (comparing Broadway shows to Bitcoin evolutionary factors). Just another opinion…

# # #

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The Business of Broadway – August 2018

 

“It’s quite uptown”. It’s August and the weather has been weird. Where is all the humidity we hate this time of year. Of course, as I say that, here comes that good old humidity. This update talks about change to the very insider “Gypsy Robe” ceremony, some upgrades to audience tech and who and who not to listen to when producing on Broadway. Enjoy!

 

Updates: August 2018

 

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Updates: August 2018

August 1, 2018

Chapter 6 (Actors):

“The Business of Broadway” tells the wonderful tale of the “Gypsy Robe” ceremony. Here’s an update:The Gypsy Robe will now be known as the Legacy Robe after a vote from members of Actors’ Equity. The name change came from concerns that it isinsensitive towards people of Roma descent. The other options in the ballot were “The Robe” and the “Chorus Robe”.

 

Chapter 10 (Producing):

     A few words from Producer Kevin McCollum: “Ultimately it pays for the investor to listen to many but believe a few on Broadway. Every show I’ve done, I’ve been told it wouldn’t work- from “Rent” to “In the Heights” to “Motown.” One of the most commercial things you can do is create a show that people have low expectations for and have it surprise people. Unlike film or television, theater isn’t based around formula. It’s a place you go for surprises.”

 

Chapter 12 (Surprises):

Update to the list of Broadway’s longest running shows…WICKED moves past A CHORUS LINE to #6 spot.

 

Chapter 19 (Ushers) and Chapter 22 (Theatre Owners):

Theatre Owners are introducing new technology for audience members with vision or hearing impairment. Equally as important as development and implementation is the training with the front line teams.

In the theatre, Playbill inserts, signage, video, and stage announcements will be targeted at audience members not using the technology, to help them understand why another patron might be using a mobile device during the show. And because these new services are low-contrast and only operate in Airplane Mode, it’s easier for ushers to differentiate between those using the services and those texting their friends during the show.

 

 

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The Business of Broadway – July 2018

 

It’s July! Where did 2018 go? Did you see any shows? Attend a marathon day of theatre? It’s summertime. The Administration is up to the same antics and we are trying to find escapes that turn off the activist in us for a little bit. This month’s update is about money. Well, every month’s update is about money. So, here’s the update for July!

Updates: July 2018

 

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Updates: July 2018

 

Chapter 10 (Investors & Producers)

            Former Wall Street trader Jim Freydberg invested $500,000 in The Phantom of the Opera when it opened on Broadway in 1988. He has earned a $15 million profit from the show and is fond of remarking that only his Apple stock has been a better investment. And the hits are making more money than ever. Of course not everything’s a hit.

According to NY Post critic Michael Reidel, in the late 20th century, financial barriers to entry as a new investor on Broadway were raised. In the 1980s, you could get into a show with an investment of $10,000 to $15,000. Now the minimum unit for most shows is $250,000.

You’re not backing the shows, you’re backing a producer whose taste, intelligence, and integrity you believe in, Reidel says. Let them pick the show. Finding the hits is their business, not yours.

 

Chapter 2 (The Jobs)

Current 2017/18 season statistics regarding gender: Percentage of women holding the following positions on Broadway:

   ONSTAGE AND ADMINISTRATION

37%    Principal acting roles

19%    Directors

18%    Choreographers

16%    Writers

53%    Stage Managers

38%    Company Managers

40%    Music Directors

CREW

0%      Carpenters

25%    Props

65%    Wardrobe

4%      Electricians

11%    Sound Engineers

71%    Hair & Makeup

   DESIGN

20%    Set Designers

54%    Costume Designers

19%    Lighting Designers

4%      Sound Designers

38%    Hair Designers

67%    Makeup Designers

 

Other stats:There were 100 producers involved in 60 shows on Broadway this past season.  Average price for a musical: $105. Average price for a play: $93.

Chapter 22 (Theatre Owners)

The 2017/18 Broadway season that just concluded with record high ticket sales of $1.7 billion…good news for theater owners, producers, royalty participants, and the hundreds of people they employ. Were they also good news for Broadway in the long term? The answer to that is more complicated. “We’re in the moving business,” James M. Nederlander, the late patriarch of the theater owning- and producing family, was fond of saying. “We move ’em in and we move ’em out.” … Not counting special attractions, the season that just ended saw only 30 new productions, down 25% from 40 the season before. (The 1927-1928 season set the record with 264 shows: 183 new plays, 53 new musicals and just 28 revivals.) Today’s Broadway is looking more and more like the long-term leasing business.”

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Updates: June 2018

Chapter  5: (Promotion and Marketing-The Female Audience)

According to the Broadway League’s The Demographics of the Broadway Audience 2016-2017, 65.9% of Broadway’s 2016-2017 audience was female. And that percentage has grown steadily for the last 20 years.
The League’s research shows that not only are women more consistently the decision makers when it comes to a ticket purchase, but when men do make the purchase, they’re more likely to bring women to the show. In fact, 48% of men reported bringing their girlfriend or wife, while only 32.5% of women reported bringing their boyfriend or husband.
17.9% of women said they brought their kids or grandkids to a show. Only 13.9% of men brought the young ones. Women are one third more likely than men to bring their parents to a show.

Chapter 5: (Promotion and Marketing-Advances for the Disabled Audience)

19% of the US population lives with some type of disability. If we accept the statistic that 35% of those over 65 years old have some kind of hearing loss, that would mean that almost 600,000 Shubert Organization theatre audience members each year could benefit from closed captioning or assistive listening. (Note: the Shuberts own 17 Broadway theatres. There are no statistics for the other Broadway theatre owners.)

As of June 1, all shows on Broadway will offer some sort of on-demand access services. The Shuberts now offers on-demand closed captioning, assistive listening, audio descriptions, and language translations at every theatre through the free “GalaPro” app. The app only operates on a dark setting, on a closed network, and in airplane mode (so users won’t receive phone calls or texts during the performance).

Unfortunately, many disabled are totally unaware of these advances and don’t even know about discounted wheelchair accessible seating in every theatre (with advance notification to the box office!)

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Updates: May 2018

 

May 1, 2018

 

Chapter 6: (Tony Awards)

 

Nominations for the past season have just been announced. A little perspective is in order: What is the real effect on the ticket-buying public?

According to a recent study by Utah Professor Russell Warne (all statistic to be taken with a questioning eye, of course), Broadway musicals that are nominated for the top prize are almost 60% less likely to close quickly than the musicals that are not nominated. (Not sure about the time frame since all shows eventually close except perhaps Phantom of the Opera!“ There is one Tony that matters: Best Musical,” Ad exec Nancy Coyne remarked. Publicist Chris Boneau echoed her observation: “The one award that really counts is the one for Best Musical.”

For the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, being nominated is often not enough. The winner might get a longer run, but those who ONLY get a nomination often end up with a shorter run. The public may see the revivals that don’t win an award as “losers”.

Reviewing over 400 shows from between 1988 and 2017, Professor Warne observed, for example, that “nominations for the directing awards are also associated with longer runs of Broadway plays but not for musicals.” He estimated that plays whose directors are recognized are about three times less likely to close than plays whose directors are snubbed.

Positive effects of a Tony nomination on the show’s longevity: 1) lead actor/musical; 2) featured actress/musical; leading actress/play. Negative impact: 1) leading actor/play (strange). No particular effect at all: 1) featured actors/play.

This new research could possibly help Broadway producers and their marketing teams make better decisions when designing expensive marketing campaigns for the Tony Awards. Personally, most Tony campaigns have little effect on good performances, great word of mouth, or a stand-out winner in the public’s eyes.

CHAPTER 6: (Tony Awards plus Pulitzer and other awards)

In 1918, the first Pulitzer Prize for Best Drama went to a forgotten—and forgettable—comedy entitled “Why Marry?” The Pulitzer Drama Prize was so often laughable that in 1935 a group of Broadway reviewers formed the New York Drama Critics Circle expressly to give better awards. One of the founders, Brooks Atkinson, summed up the Circle’s accomplishment almost thirty years after its beginning, writing, “The average taste of the Critics Circle is no more discerning than the average taste of the Pulitzer judges. Neither the Circle nor the Pulitzer prizes can be intimidated by genius.

In the late 1940s, the Tony Awards began as a small event for the theater community sponsored by the American Theatre Wing, a charitable group from the war years. The presentation happened at a banquet with dancing in a hotel ballroom, with the prizes chosen by an ad hoc handful of people. In the first year, a Tony was given to Vincent Sardi, Sr., in thanks for Sardi’s Restaurant!

Twenty years later the Wing was in financial trouble and it joined with the Broadway League to continue the Tony Awards. Within a year, the ceremony morphed into a big television event. That changed everything about the Tonys and a lot about Broadway theater.

Still, the televised Tony Awards has also made major gaffes and provokes debate. For example:

  • Harveywon over The Glass Menagerie
    • Hello, Dolly! won over Funny Girl
    • The Music Man won over West Side Story
    • Nine won over Dreamgirls
    • The Sound of Music won over Gypsy

Today, there are six major, very different organizations giving best play and best musical awards, for diverse reasons, chosen by very unalike procedures. It feels great if your show gets one, but does it have any sure, lasting meaning?

In short: so many prizes; so little to celebrate. Even after 100 years.

—–
(Adapted from Tim Donahue, the author most recently of Playing for Prizes: America’s Awards for Best Play and Best Musical.)

CHAPTER 15 (Actors)

Actors’ Equity votes to change the name of the Gypsy Robe. After hearing concerns about the insensitivity of the name, the union has voted to rename the robe that is awarded to the chorus member with the highest number of Broadway credits on opening night of a show. The 60-year-old tradition of the robe will continue with a new name next season.

BONUS: The nominees for the 2018 Tony Awards

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May 1, 2018

 

Chapter 6: (Tony Awards)

 

Nominations for the past season have just been announced. A little perspective is in order: What is the real effect on the ticket-buying public?

According to a recent study by Utah Professor Russell Warne (all statistic to be taken with a questioning eye, of course), Broadway musicals that are nominated for the top prize are almost 60% less likely to close quickly than the musicals that are not nominated. (Not sure about the time frame since all shows eventually close except perhaps Phantom of the Opera!“ There is one Tony that matters: Best Musical,” Ad exec Nancy Coyne remarked. Publicist Chris Boneau echoed her observation: “The one award that really counts is the one for Best Musical.”

For the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, being nominated is often not enough. The winner might get a longer run, but those who ONLY get a nomination often end up with a shorter run. The public may see the revivals that don’t win an award as “losers”.

Reviewing over 400 shows from between 1988 and 2017, Professor Warne observed, for example, that “nominations for the directing awards are also associated with longer runs of Broadway plays but not for musicals.” He estimated that plays whose directors are recognized are about three times less likely to close than plays whose directors are snubbed.

Positive effects of a Tony nomination on the show’s longevity: 1) lead actor/musical; 2) featured actress/musical; leading actress/play. Negative impact: 1) leading actor/play (strange). No particular effect at all: 1) featured actors/play.

This new research could possibly help Broadway producers and their marketing teams make better decisions when designing expensive marketing campaigns for the Tony Awards. Personally, most Tony campaigns have little effect on good performances, great word of mouth, or a stand-out winner in the public’s eyes.

CHAPTER 6: (Tony Awards plus Pulitzer and other awards)

In 1918, the first Pulitzer Prize for Best Drama went to a forgotten—and forgettable—comedy entitled “Why Marry?” The Pulitzer Drama Prize was so often laughable that in 1935 a group of Broadway reviewers formed the New York Drama Critics Circle expressly to give better awards. One of the founders, Brooks Atkinson, summed up the Circle’s accomplishment almost thirty years after its beginning, writing, “The average taste of the Critics Circle is no more discerning than the average taste of the Pulitzer judges. Neither the Circle nor the Pulitzer prizes can be intimidated by genius.

In the late 1940s, the Tony Awards began as a small event for the theater community sponsored by the American Theatre Wing, a charitable group from the war years. The presentation happened at a banquet with dancing in a hotel ballroom, with the prizes chosen by an ad hoc handful of people. In the first year, a Tony was given to Vincent Sardi, Sr., in thanks for Sardi’s Restaurant!

Twenty years later the Wing was in financial trouble and it joined with the Broadway League to continue the Tony Awards. Within a year, the ceremony morphed into a big television event. That changed everything about the Tonys and a lot about Broadway theater.

Still, the televised Tony Awards has also made major gaffes and provokes debate. For example:

  • Harveywon over The Glass Menagerie
    • Hello, Dolly! won over Funny Girl
    • The Music Man won over West Side Story
    • Nine won over Dreamgirls
    • The Sound of Music won over Gypsy

Today, there are six major, very different organizations giving best play and best musical awards, for diverse reasons, chosen by very unalike procedures. It feels great if your show gets one, but does it have any sure, lasting meaning?

In short: so many prizes; so little to celebrate. Even after 100 years.

—–
(Adapted from Tim Donahue, the author most recently of Playing for Prizes: America’s Awards for Best Play and Best Musical.)

CHAPTER 15 (Actors)

Actors’ Equity votes to change the name of the Gypsy Robe. After hearing concerns about the insensitivity of the name, the union has voted to rename the robe that is awarded to the chorus member with the highest number of Broadway credits on opening night of a show. The 60-year-old tradition of the robe will continue with a new name next season.

BONUS: The nominees for the 2018 Tony Awards

#

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The Business of Broadway – April 2018

Apparently, Winter loves to be fashionably late, this year. International travel can be a pain but, it also can connect us on many levels. This month, have some updates to that effect.

 

http://www.justlearnsomething.us/updates-april-2018/

 

 

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