Theater things that don’t make sense: Vol. 1

Today we start a new series identifying some things that are just plain odd.

Not right or wrong, just odd or out-of-balance.

Many of these things are a result of how the business was born, how it’s structured, and who has the power.  Many are archaic “industry standards” (I hate that phrase, BTW.  How can anything be standard in an industry with a failure rate as high as ours?  Obviously the standards suck, so why keep using them?)

Many of these things may never change . . . unless enough of us Producers start jumping up and down all at once and start demanding it.

You guys game?  I thought so.

Ok, here we go . . . volume #1.

Did you know that if you produce a show in any Broadway or Off-Broadway theatre in New York City or any major touring house across the country and want to sell merchandise (t-shirts, CDs, etc.), you will be forced to a pay a commission to the theater owner?  (10%, 15%, even higher in some markets!)

Now, did you know, that in the same contract, you will be told that the theater owner has the right, whether you like it or not, to sell drinks, concessions, etc.. and you get no participation in that, even though it’s your audience buying the $4 Kit Kat and $5 bottled water.

Either give us a piece, or allow us to sell it.  Producers have so few ancillary revenue streams.  If we had more, our risk would be reduced.

Why do you think Steve Wynn can spend $100 million on a show in Las Vegas?  Because he has additional revenue streams that help support it:  hotel rooms, restaurants, souvenirs, and oh, I don’t know, gambling?

We may never get a piece of the bar, but we should never stop searching for additional ways our content can make us money.

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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.