Why Broadway shows should tour faster (like they used to).

One of the great many conundrums about the Broadway business model is this:

65% of the Broadway audience is outside the tri-state area.

It’s challenging (translation = expensive) to market to that audience when they can’t see the show that night.  Coca-Cola can advertise everywhere because a coke is about probably fifteen steps away.  Same with McDonald’s and Starbucks. 

But not Broadway.

Luckily, digital marketing has helped.  Companies like Sojern can identify consumers who are traveling to NYC and serve them your ads.  (Creepy if you’re a consumer, but if you’re a business owner who depends on tourist traffic, it’s a game-changer.)

But you know what the greatest form of advertising to the rest of America is?

National Tours.

Broadway musicals spend about $150k in advertising.  It might seem like a lot, but it goes fast.

But when a show is on the road, each market spends another $100k or so per week in advertising.  And each market gets press.  

Most importantly, each market puts the show in front of thousands of theatergoers, which means more word of mouth.  And since the theaters on the road are generally bigger than Broadway theaters (in some cases, DOUBLE the size), the word of mouth spreads faster.

All that means one thing . . . a massive increase in awareness for your show.  It’s like your advertising budget on steroids . . . put paid for by someone else.  Oh, and it’s shooting those ads right in the heart of that 65% demographic that you can’t reach!

That impacts tour sales, of course, but also impacts Broadway sales.  Because, sure, sure, some people may see the show on tour.  But many will NOT.  But now, because of that advertising, they will know about it. 

And when they come to NY, the billboard they see or flyer they get won’t be the first time they have heard about the show.  They may have seen an ad, or even heard that their dear Aunt Gertie saw it and loved it.

National Tours provide a massive halo effect for Broadway business.

When I first started in the business, shows hit the road much faster than they do now.  Which means the Broadway productions benefited.  A show that opened on Broadway in a season could be out on the road by the start of the next season.

Nowadays, it can be a year before the tour comes together.  And often, the Broadway show has closed in the meantime.  And that doesn’t do anyone any good.

Getting a tour out is like franchising a restaurant or a department store.  The sooner you do it, the sooner both benefit.

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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.