3 Reasons Why I’m Thankful for Bruce Springsteen.

On December 15th, Bruce Springsteen will end his historic, record-breaking, $108 million dollar (and counting!) Broadway run.

There have been some negative Nancy’s in our industry buzzing about a rock and roll star taking up residence in one of our only 41 Broadway theaters for over a year, at a time when so many shows are begging for a home (I was told that there 33 shows looking for a theater this Spring alone!  33!).

I’m not one of those Nancy’s, especially given what Bruce is doing up on that stage.  There’s no question that he’s providing a unique theatrical experience to his audience that he couldn’t give anywhere else . . . and if that wasn’t what Broadway was designed for, then I might as well go work for the MTA.

That said, I do worry that his success will lead to a bunch of suits looking to “monetize” an artist on Broadway.  In fact, there have already been rumors of a “concert series” coming to Broadway with LiveNation, CAA and EBG behind the venture (read the article here).

Don’t get me wrong.  This could be cool.

I just hope the executives look for artists who want to be here, not artists who want to make money.  Because believe it or not, trying to make money is usually the worst way to make money.

We need to remember that the reason Bruce did Broadway is that Bruce wanted to do Broadway . . . not because someone said, “Hey, let’s go gross $3mm a week.”

I digress.  This blog is about gratitude, specifically my gratitude for The Boss himself.  Bruce hit the trifecta of what I believe to be the goal of all Broadway shows.  And hitting all three is no small feat.

Here’s what Bruce’s show did:

  1.  He made money.

Returning money to investors and Producers allows those investors and Producers to do other shows, including those where they don’t expect to make money.  It is so, so, so rare to find a Broadway Producer or Broadway Investor who gets up from the table after winning a big hand like a Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia or Hamilton.  Usually, those who are making a ton on one show, have lost more than a ton on a handful of others.  When shows make money it helps other shows.  Not to mention it keeps hundreds of folks from stagehands and ushers and advertising execs employed!

  1. Press Agents Know All The Gossip

Bruce could have just done his concert.  But he knew he was entering a unique performance space . . . a space usually dedicated to storytelling.  So he told his story . . . in a way that he had never told it before.  He even told his audience not to sing along.  It was the anti-concert.  He did the opposite of what everyone expected.  And doing the unexpected is often how art is born.

  1. Press Agents Know All The Gossip

Thousands of people who came to see Springsteen were what our ticketing companies would define as “new to file.”  That means they haven’t seen a Broadway show before.  That means they’ll get marketing messages about Broadway shows in the future.   That means that there’s a much better chance they go to see another Broadway show, all thanks to The Boss.  For those of us in this biz for longer than the run of Moose Murders, we owe people and projects like Springsteen on Broadway enormous debt for attracting new audiences to our art form.  They may help us avoid going into debt in the future.

Thanks, Bruce.  Come back and see us again sometime, will ya?  You’re part of our family now.  And we’re so very lucky to have you at our table.

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.