Bringing back the concept of the concept album.
In the 80s, Andrew Lloyd Three Names released a bunch of recordings of his shows, before they were actually completed shows.Jesus Christ Three Named Show was one of the first . . . but Evita had one, and there was a songs from Starlight Express CD too.
On this side of the record-producing pond, Frank Wildhorn (the would-be ALW of the West) had his hand in the pre-album album with J&H, Civil War (with fancy recording artists, nonetheless), and others.
But other than those, and a few randoms here and there, the concept of the concept album went the way of Annie 2.
Why would a show on its way to Broadway not take a few bucks from the budget to make a “Songs from . . . ” CD? The benefits are ginormous:
- You’d have them to sell on your first preview, instead of having to wait for months to make the OCR.
- You’d have a first class marketing tool to use on your way to Broadway . . . and let’s face it, nothing sells a musical better than its music . . . to investors, to sponsors, theater owners, etc.
- You’d start building a fan base, and have people humming songs on the way in, rather than just on the way out.
In the past twenty years, the cost of making albums, and distributing albums has dropped tremendously. You can even DIY it. And done cheap enough, almost any CD could certainly find the “long tail” market and recoup some of its costs.
Objections I’ve heard are, “The cast might not be the same as on Broadway,” (who cares) and, “What if we cut a song?” (who cares – listen to ALW’s Evita). The bottom line is this . . . when an audience member leaves a musical and has a song in their head . . . they’ll do anything to hear it again to satisfy that musical craving. And when I say anything, I mean anything (you’re reading a blog from a guy who listened to a cassette bootleg of Rent for weeks.)
You can satisfy that need, make some money, and market your show better if you’ve got a CD to sell from the start. So add the cost to your budget, and get that score out in the world.
Huh. I think I just convinced myself to do a recording of Somewhere in Time while we’re out here in Portland.
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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.