Updates: March 2020

CHAPTER 12 (Good & Bad Surprises)

Broadway Musicals: Since 1997, seven of the ten highest-grossing Broadway musicals, and five of the ten best-attended musicals are still running. Disney’s The Lion King is the highest-grossing musical of all time.

CHAPTER 15 (Actors) – Immigration from and to Great Britain

For the past 30 or so years, there has been a reciprocal arrangement to share actors from Great Britain and other nations in Europe and the U.S. Under the current British administration, a major change has been planned. From January 1, 2021, all EU and non-EU citizens will be subject to the new system, which takes multiple factors into account when awarding visas, including salary and education.

The minimum salary threshold will be £25,600 (around US$33,000). However some workers with a job offer with a lower salary may still be awarded a visa if they meet other requirements.

Equity president Maureen Beattie said that the end of freedom of movement will have a “devastating” impact on the working lives of people in the creative industries.

“Although it is theoretically ‘points-based’, the reality is that it will be impossible to accrue enough points with a salary below £25,600 (without a PhD) unless the role is on the shortage occupation list; a list which excludes many highly-valued creative professions.

“In our sector, high skill levels do not always equate to high salaries. There must be recognition of sector-specific means of assessment including auditions, work experience and portfolios.”

Also, the restrictions on incoming EU workers will have an impact on the ability of touring companies to visit the UK.

Freelance and research officer Tony Lennon said: “There is no provision whatsoever for self-employed workers to come in and if EU member states reciprocate by applying restrictions to UK workers, it’s going to be more costly and difficult to organize European tours for performances. Restricted movement of UK workers [would] add to the problems we already know about when moving scenery, props and equipment across the Channel after December this year.”

 

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Updates: February 2020

CHAPTER 18 (Management)
The U.S.A. is not the only place struggling with diversity issues. In England, 92% of bosses at the country’s 50 highest-funded theatres are white with people of color making up just 8% of leaders. The findings do not include commercial theatre. Broadway shows are primarily commercial but nonprofit theaters (Manhattan Theatre Club, Second Stage, Roundabout, Lincoln Center) contribute significantly to the Broadway landscape. In the U.K. the West End’s nonprofit theatres include the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Exchange, Young Vic and Sheffield Theatres.

CHAPTER 9 (Selling a Show) & CHAPTER 10 (Producers)

The percentage of Broadway musicals that have recouped their initial investment in the last half decade is 20.45%. This is the same dang number it has always been. So as we continue to create economic models for our shows and our business, we pretty much know what we’re working with.

CHAPTER 15 (Actors)

We could be looking at as few as 113 ensemble roles for the 2019-2020 season, as compared to 185 in 2018-2019 and 183 in 2017-2018, according to The Ensemblist. … The research also acknowledges that as shows become more expensive to produce, creators must “be more succinct in what they’re looking for”—which often means shrinking cast and orchestra sizes.

APPENDIX: RESOURCES

www.Careers.Broadway – a one-stop first-step resource for anyone who wants to know what to do, where to look, and how to build a career on Broadway or for those considering career changes or for teachers and mentors to young people around the country. This platform provides access and information for everyone and suggests points of entry no matter where you live. Broadway supports more than 87,000 jobs in New York City alone, contributing $12.63 billion to the local economy in the 2018-2019 season.

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Updates: January 2020

CHAPTER 10 (Producing and Investing); CHAPTER 11 (Unique Financials); CHAPTER 22 (Theatre Owners)

MOVING THEATRES. STOP CLAUSES. 

The Shubert Organization that owns the Winter Garden Theatre that currently houses “Beetlejuice” invoked a stop clause, in which theater owners can force a show to vacate a theater if it falls below a certain grosses threshold for two consecutive weeks

“Beetlejuice” originally opened to weak ticket sales and fell below its stop clause last June and then received formal notice on Oct. 1 that the show would need to move out in June 2020. At issue was an incoming production, “The Music Man,” which has been reportedly booked into the theater for its run next year. 

One possibility was to have “The Music Man” take over the Shubert Theatre where “To Kill a Mockingbird,” resides, and move it to another theater of suitable size. But that option has not panned out. “Beetlejuice” producers have also looked at moving their own show to another theater, but Luftig said that a move for the large and highly technical set would cost close to $4 million, which would weigh on the production’s investors. 

The problem with moving ‘Beetlejuice’ is that it was built and retrofit for the Winter Garden Theatre.

And both options are hurt by the lack of overall theater availability on Broadway.  

Overall, grosses for “Beetlejuice” have recently been on an uptick, regularly surpassing $1 million, with its gross potential hovering between 80% to 90%. In the first week of December, the musical broke a box office record at the Winter Garden. 

That’s a marked change from grosses early in its run, which began on March 28, when the musical was seeing between 50% to 60% of its gross potential. 

The musical was capitalized for up to $21 million, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

CHAPTER 10 (Producing and Investing)

According to figures provided by the Broadway League, the industry grossed a total of $1.757 billion in 2019. That’s $67 million under 2018’s record, a difference of about 3.7%. However, it was also the best-attended year in Broadway history, with 90.51% of its seats filled.

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UPDATES: 2019

Click the book below to ORDER now!

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The Business of Broadway is essential reading for anyone interested in producing, investing, or working in theatre. Engaging and illuminating, Mitch Weiss and Perri Gaffney explain the myriad of people and roles they play to collaborate on a show from development to opening night and beyond.


 UPDATES FOR READERS OF “THE BUSINESS OF BROADWAY”

2019 Updates

January 2019

March 2019

April 2019

May 2019

June 2019

July 2019

September 2019

October 2019

November 2019

December 2019


Archived Updates

 Updates 2015

Updates 2016

Updates 2017

Updates 2018

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Updates: December 2019

CHAPTER 13 (Box Office); CHAPTER 10 (Producing)

RE: BROADWAY WEEK. It occurs at two of the slowest times of the year for Broadway attendance. Two for One aka Broadway Week draws more from the Outer Boroughs than Broadway shows do. There are a high percentage of sales to people who are new to Broadway; a good percentage of those who are new buy tickets later to another show.  The Broadway Week audience tends to include more people with moderate incomes than Broadway does. There are more buyers who are younger and more ethnically diverse than the usual Broadway crowd. This summary reads like the goals for an industry wide audience development program as opposed to simply a promotion to fill empty seats.

APPENDIX: (Resources):

Lin-Manuel Miranda and three of his collaborators on “Hamilton” said they will reopen the Drama Book Store in spring 2020 on West 39th Street, in a garment district storefront just a block south from its previous location. The store’s designer is David Korins. With a look inspired by European cafes and a reading room atmosphere, it will sell coffee, merchandise and writing materials, along with play scripts, librettos and books about the arts. A basement level could be used for classes, readings or other gatherings.

CHAPTER 22 (Theatre Owners)

It has now fallen to the theaters themselves to enforce the cellphone rules at live productions. A company called Yondr has developed soft pouches that keep people from accessing their devices during shows. Due to an increasing number of disrupted performances and prevention of video bootlegging of intellectual property, Yondr’s pouch is now being “tested” on certain Broadway productions. An usher will ask for your cell phone, place it in an electronically locked pouch and give it back to you to hold. At the end of the performance, your pouch will be unlocked.

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Updates: November 2019

CHAPTER 2 (The Jobs)

André Bishop, head of Lincoln Center Theater, earned pay and benefits valued at $1 million in 2017. It’s likely the biggest one-year compensation for a New York nonprofit theater leader. In this relatively small pond, a raise for one chieftain can have a ripple effect on others. Ouch.

 

CHAPTER 13 (Box Office); CHAPTER 10 (Producing)

Operating on the IBM Blockchain platform, True Ticketstechnology (pioneered through the Shubert Organization) allows the ticket seller to see every step of the ticketing process, acting as a kind of ledger, from ticket purchase to redemption at the theater. At this time, only the Shuberts are using it.

 

CHAPTER 13 (Box Office); CHAPTER 10 (Producing)

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the EU-based legislation effective May 2018 and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) effective January 2020 outline how data privacy should be handled. Since 5% of Broadway attendees reside in California, this new law is relevant for the Broadway industry. This is aimed at those who “sell” personal information and the technology companies that they sell it to. This is certainly not the last of these types of legislation. The intersection of data and privacy and what’s OK and not OK will continue to evolve and change over time. Data-driven digital media buying will evolve right alongside it.

 

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Updates: October 2019

 

CHAPTER 15 (Actors)

Broadway proudly claims a diverse membership of actors. Equity has just released its nationwide“ethnic distribution” numbers from 2013-2015. Without adding commentary, the numbers speak for themselves.

Equity has 50.920 members.

Women represent 49.5% of Equity’s total membership, with an average age of 46.7 years old.

Men represent 50.5% of Equity’s total membership, with an average age of 48.3 years old.

Membership is divided as follows: 68% Caucasian, 7.5% African-American, 3.6% two or more races, 2.5% Hispanic/Latino, 2.2% Asian, .2% Pacific Islander, less than .1% American Indian. (16% did not list their ethnicity/race).

Actors were hired as follows:

61% of principal acting contracts went to men.

71% of principal acting contracts went to Caucasians.

74% of stage management contracts went to Caucasians.

A majority of stage management contracts went to women (but at significantly lower salaries)

Quoting Actors’ Equity in their report: “The study raises questions about how we measure progress. Last season (2017-18), shows like The Color Purple, Shuffle Along, On Your Feet and Hamilton made it seem like diversity issues on Broadway were solved. But how do we move, as an industry to a place where there are more roles for women and people of color in all productions?”

CHAPTER 15 (Actors)

NEW SALARIES AND RULES FOR ACTORS & STAGE MANAGERS EFFECTIVE AS SOON AS THE VOTE IS IN (NOVEMBER 2019??): The Broadway League and Actors’ Equity Association have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract. Among the changes, the new contract provides Equity members 3.5% annual increases to minimum weekly salaries, as well as increases to 401(k) contributions and media fees.

For new productions, the contract now stipulates that “swings” cannot be assigned to cover more than 10 ensemble tracks. It also creates a new position, “Temporary Assistant Stage Manager” to work on larger musicals that open cold using the production contract from the beginning of pre-production through opening.

Productions that have announced a closing date no longer have to hold required Equity principal audition replacement calls. There are also clarifications to who qualifies for chorus rider outs and for additional salary payments for ninth performances.

CHAPTER 13 (Box Office); CHAPTER 10 (Producing)

Many show producers now introduce the ticket lottery system (last minute online sales) to their Broadway productions only as a cheap way to increase the show’s marketing and ultimately increase profits. For the less popular shows, they use the lottery as a way to finish filling up the rest of their theatre’s unsold seats, without having to resort to seat-fillers, which can damage their brand and reduce the likelihood that these patrons will ever buy a full price ticket the next time. Many of today’s Broadway show lottery ticket prices have increased significantly.

 

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Updates: September 2019

August-September, 2019 (The Summer Download)

We’ve been busy enjoying the summer, here’s what we missed.

CHAPTER 22 (Theatre Owners)

Theatre Owners maintain an Operations team to ensure that the physical venue is in working order and to certify that the house staff is well-trained and ready to assist patrons. Cleanliness is high on the list, as you might expect. The team also checks digital signage and marquees to make sure they’re in working order.Making the rounds helps put fresh eyes on the theatres to identify issues that could otherwise be missed, and being present with the house staff builds a better team. Each owner has their own procedures but the goal is to ensure that Broadway theatergoers have the best experience possible.

CHAPTER 22 (Theatre Owners)

The Palace Theatre on the corner of West 47th St. and Broadway (called “the most trafficked corner in the Western Hemisphere”), is currently closed due to a ridiculously adventurous and risky project titled “TSX Broadway”. The theatre and the entire building above it will be raised 3 stories in the air. According to Business Insider: “Twenty two cents of every tourist dollar is spent in Times Square. That level of commercialization is really powerful, for a brand to be able to be associated with a place that is authentic, that everybody has memories of, that everybody goes to when they come to New York.” Adding commercial space underneath the iconic theatre is expected to bring massive income to the building’s owners. Otherwise, why in G-d’s name would anyone try this?

CHAPTER 10 (Producing and Investing) 

CHAPTER 18 (General and Company Managers)

2019’s ‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical’ has 70 songs credited to 161 writers. Which meant that along with its recognizable Broadway stars … the musical’s key players would include the team in charge of song rights and clearances. … Ms. Pavlovic brought in Janet Billig Rich, a producer with a deep well of experience in the music industry, to help with the clearances. The show had to obtain what is called a “grand rights license” for each composition, which allows for music to be used in the context of a narrative. The permissions and costs vary depending on how much of an individual song is in the musical and for how long.

CHAPTER 9 (Selling a Big Hit)

CHAPTER 13 (Box office)

CHAPTER 18 (Producing and investing)

CHAPTER 22 (General and Company Managers)

Starting in Philly and coming to Broadway…

How to protect the public against bots and brokers: Hamilton opens in Philly for a 12-week run at the Forrest Theatre. With tens of thousands of tickets to sell, they wanted to ensure that the shopping experience was smooth and that the majority of inventory went to real fans (not bots and brokers). Here’s what they did:

REGISTRATION & VERIFICATION: Keep ticket limits strict—four tickets per household—and customers register for the chance to buy a ticket. This gave them the opportunity to use certification software to weed out duplicate, bogus, or nefarious registrations and only open up the onsale to legitimate customers.

SINGLE-USE CODES: Those legit customers were emailed a one-time-use code on the morning of the onsale which allowed them (and only them) to purchase up to four tickets online or by phone. After the initial 9:00 rush, we sent more codes to customers on several waitlists.

ONLINE WAITING ROOM: In order to accommodate tens of thousands of customers at the same time, we implemented a queueing system. Any customers waiting at 9am were assigned a random queue number to make sure that is was fair and efficient.

BOX OFFICE WRISTBANDS: This was our most low-tech solution, but at the box office, we handed out colored wristbands corresponding to a purchase time. People lined up in the morning, picked their wristband randomly out of a bag, and came back to purchase at their assigned time. Customers didn’t have to stand in line all day, and brokers couldn’t pack the front of the line with their employees.

Beginning in 2019 Fall, all Telecharge customers will use this system…on Broadway and across the world.

CHAPTER 2 (The Jobs) 

The 10 Most Represented Colleges on Broadway in 2019. According to Playbill.com: “1. New York University … 2. University of Michigan … 3. The Juilliard School … 4. Carnegie Mellon University … 5. College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati … 6. American Musical and Dramatic Academy … 7. Boston Conservatory … 8. Northwestern University … 9. Point Park University … 10. Oklahoma City University.

CHAPTER 10 (Producing and Investing: Subsidiary Rights)

APPENDIX (Resources)

Concord Music Group used to play a bit part in theatrical licensing, but in just three years it’s emerged as a giant in the small but powerful industry. Since 2017, the independent music company has snapped up Tams-Witmark, Samuel French and the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization (the latter through its acquisition of Dutch publisher Imagem). Add in the works licensed by the Musical Company, the joint venture launched in 2016 by Concord and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group, and Concord’s theatrical division now encompasses everything from “A Chorus Line” to “Fences” to “Fun Home” to “Oklahoma!” to “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” 

 

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Updates: July 2019

CHAPTER 13, 18: Box office, Management

            According to a top Class Action lawsuit, the customers said that Ticketmaster sells tickets in bulk on its website to professional resellers and then the tickets are sold at an inflated price. The duo claim that Ticketmaster receives double commission and believe the practice is “unlawful.””

CHAPTER 26:  APPENDIX – Resources and Technology

            ProductionPro has launched Broadway By The Numbers 2019. The site explores the data behind the new shows opening each year. Topics include gender diversity, Broadway debuts, and more.

            PRG Scenic Technologies Celebrates 100,000 Broadway Shows – Founded in 1984 to develop new scenic fabrication and automation techniques for the live entertainment market, PRG Scenic Technologies is the longest continuously running theatrical automation shop in the USA.

CHAPTER 13, 18: Box office, Management

            Dynamic pricing is the practice of adjusting a price to meet its demand, or market value. Given the difficulty of selling 100% of a performance’s tickets and that any unsold tickets immediately expire once a performance starts, dynamic pricing shows promise of lowering ticket prices while increasing revenue for shows. Included are several statistical simulations of pricing scenarios, along with implementable take-aways.

 

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Updates: June 2019

CHAPTER 10: Producing and Investing

Broadway is in the midst, financially and artistically (with a caveat or two), of a new golden age. Every theater is booked, with up to five backup shows hoping to come in when a venue frees up. It’s possible that some musical houses — such as the Gershwin, where the 16-year-old “Wicked” could outlive its producers — may never be on the market again. And of course, “Phantom of the Opera” has been running for over 30 years with “Chicago” and “Lion King” and “Book of Mormon” still running strong.

NYTIMES: This past season, attendance was up 9.5 percent. And overall grosses rose even faster — up 10.3 percent, leading to the sixth record-breaking year in a row. Those are significant developments for an art form ever-worried about its cultural relevance, and they are especially striking during a season dominated by an unexpected bounty of ambitious plays.
In all, 14,768,254 patrons saw Broadway shows last season, for a total box office gross of $1.8 billion, according to figures released Tuesday by the Broadway League … Both totals — measured between May 28, 2018 and May 26, 2019 — are records for an industry that was thought to be dying in the 1970s but has forcefully rebounded.

 

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