The Music Companies follow the Movie Companies to Broadway.

It was only a matter of time.

Last week, Universal Music Group announced that they were tapping the independent Broadway Producer (and former agent) Scott Landis along with David Blackman to “assist the company in forging stronger ties with the theatre community, building partnerships and helping develop and produce projects based on Universal Music’s roster of artists and music library.”

The story hit the trades without too much fanfare, like most hiring announcements from big cos like UMG.

But this move should have gotten a little more ink, IMHO . . . so I’m going to give it some.

You see, Scott is the first Broadway Producer or Broadway Anything I know that has been hired by a MUSIC company to pursue its interests in our space.  Obviously, the success of Mamma Mia!, Jersey Boys, Beautiful, Motown and even the non-success of shows like All Shook Up, Good Vibrations and all the other jukebox musicals have brought music publishers “unimaginable millions” (as one lawyer described it to me) as well as the trickle-down effect of increased CD sales, tours for bands (that may not have toured in a while), etc.

And like any smart company, by hiring Scott, UMG is investing in something that is already working.  Now they’ll have someone actively mining their catalog for the next Mamma Mia!, Jersey Boys, Beautiful, Motown, etc.  (And actually if they only get an All Shook Up they’ll be more than happy – since the regional and subsidiary monies are plenty.)

I’ll bet those unimaginable millions that UMG never imagined having a staffer dedicated to pursuing theatrical projects at the turn of the millennium.  Like many folks on the West Coast, they probably would have laughed at the idea.  “Broadway?  Ha.  Pennies!”

This hire reminds me of a conversation I had with a big-wig movie exec years ago (who now dons an even bigger wig).  When I said, “Why don’t you have someone on staff to mine your catalog?” he said . . . “It’s not enough money for us.  We’d rather just license it to one of you guys.”

Flash forward to today?  The company that Mr. Bigger Wig works for has a full-on dept. dedicated to theatrical projects.

And . . . so do ALL the studios.  Every single movie company has someone “forging stronger ties with the theatre community, building partnerships and helping develop and produce projects based on INSERT MOVIE COMPANY’S NAME.”

How long before all the music companies do the same?

What UMG has done that is super smart is hiring someone like Scott . . . an independent who knows the streets, rather than just handing the task to the closest exec. in the building with no experience or passion for the theater.

Hopefully when the other music cos come a-runnin’, they will do the same.


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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.