What the fight over Airbnb means about Producing.

The photo featured in this blog is a weapon.

It’s an ad placed by the DIY real estate website, Airbnb, to stir up supporters as the battle between the site and the NYC hotel industry wages on like the fight over the Iron Throne.

Don’t know about Airbnb?  Well, if you’re looking to make a few extra bucks, you’re going to be very intrigued.

Airbnb matches up residents of a certain city with visitors to that city who are looking for a place to stay.  To use an example, say you’re coming to NYC to see . . . oh, I don’t know . . . It’s Only A Play . . . and you don’t want to spend the astronomical amounts charged by a midtown hotel . . . or, you’d rather stay in a more residential neighborhood . . . or you want a kitchen . . . whatever.  And I, the owner of an apt on the Upper West Side, am going away for the weekend.  I list my apartment on Airbnb for $X/night.  You click it, rent it, and bam.  You’re happy.  I’m happy.

And the hotels (and the city governments themselves that are losing out on tax money) are POed.  So they are fighting back with laws and fines.  Airbnb is fighting back with popular opinion.  Since the people are happy, shouldn’t the governments listen to the people, and not the hotel lobby?

What fascinates me about this latest struggle is that it’s another sign of the transfer of power from big corps to individuals.

The internet birthed what I call “The Age of the Independent.”

Sites like Airbnb, eBay, and yes, even StubHub have given millions of individuals the opportunity to make money online, and have made consumers tremendously happy by delivering them products and services cheaper or of higher value then they can get at their local mall.

And, like the city governments and hotels, some industries try to resist.

Others, like Amazon.com, embrace the Independent seller by saying, “Hey – if you don’t like our price, you can get this from one of our partners cheaper if you want,” and then just takes a cut.  They may make less, but they keep the customer.

The Era of the Independent continues to artists as well.  Painter?  You don’t need a SoHo gallery anymore.  There’s 20×20.  Filmmakers?  Well, we all know how the Independent Film movement has rocked big studios over the last decade.

And, yes . . . the Era of the Independent is coming to Theater too.

Things always take a little longer to take on Broadway . . . but the Era of the Independent Producer . . . the David Merrick, the Cameron Mackintosh . . . is coming back.

And just like NYC’s attempt to keep Airbnb away . . . resistance is futile.

I know what you’re thinking . . . Broadway is different.  Unlike the unlimited web, there are only so many Broadway theaters, so there’s only so much an Independent can do.

And you probably thought a hotel room could just exist in a hotel.


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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.