the biz of the musical theatre biz conference ONLINE
Our Conference cost $595 to attend in person this summer.
Now you can watch it online for $195. (Well, most of it.)
Our 2016 Conference on the Biz of the Musical Theatre for musical theatre writers took place in August. If you weren’t able to attend in person, you missed a lot! It was a jam-packed three-day weekend of musical theatre panels, schmoozing, learning, eating, drinking, and networking. We had writers, attorneys, producers, artistic directors, actors, composers, and lots of other theatre artists and industry folk. But don’t worry - we’ve made nineteen short videos of some of the highlights from five of the panels (there were twelve!). Enjoy. And next time, we hope you can attend in person. There are two samples below if you want to test them out before committing to the whole conference online.
Here is some info about the different panels we videoed - to let you know what is in the video package. Check ’em out!
Entertainment attorneys Gordon Firemark and Michael Blaha gave us thousands of dollars’ worth of advice about the legal aspects of musical theatre. Here are just a few highlights (there were so many…this panel is always one of the highlights of the conference):
Collaboration Agreements. Protect yourself; protect your collaborators. When should you sign an agreement? What should be in it?
Permissions and Rights. What are your obstacles if you want to write a musical based on a public figure, living or dead? What about parody and satire…are other people’s songs fair game? How about works in the public domain?
Merger. At what point is your show solidified? What do you do when you’re ready for one member of the artistic team to leave? Is that different after the show has been produced? What is merger, and when does it go into effect?
Highlights from the panel on Diversity. New Musicals Inc. hosted a stimulating panel on diversity in musical theatre. Here’s a 6-minute video showing you the highlights. Featuring panelists representing the communities of deaf actors, actors with disabilities, gay, black, Asian, and women.
Broadway producer Ken Davenport (Spring Awakening, Godspell, Altar Boyz, etc.) gave us all some wonderful insights, strategies, and encouragement. We’ve excerpted five of his hottest topics, and two “case studies” from among conference participants he advised for everyone to hear.
Advice from Hal Prince. Ken shares a life-changing moment in Hal Prince’s office, and the advice that launched his career. (Hint: It’ll work for you, too.)
The Awesome 80’s Prom. Ken regales us with stories from his very first producing experience: “The Awesome 80’s Prom.” How he was broke four months after opening, but then got the show back on its feet, to run for ten years Off-Broadway.
Just Say Yes. Ken talks about his early days in the musical theatre world, and how important it is just to say YES.
Purple Cows. Working from the notion popularized by Seth Godin, about how to get your show to stand out. It’s a cluttered world out there, with hundreds of options competing for your audience’s attention. How do you make sure your musical stands out like a purple cow in a herd of black-and-white ones? Sample this video for free by clicking this link.
$12 Marketing Campaigns. What if you have only $12 to market your show? Ken gives you some practical advice, and shares some examples from his own career with marketing campaigns which cost him $12…or less.
When is your Musical Ready? We’re all eager to get to opening night, and we want to get our shows into the hands of producers right away. Is that the right approach? Ken talks about the pitfalls of sending out a musical before it’s ready.
Self-Producing. The power of self-producing. Should you do it? Are you ready? Ken urges you to take control of your own career, and treat your musical like it’s a business.
How do you approach a producer?
We asked a panel of producers what are the best ways to approach them with our musicals. Their answers might surprise you. Here are two highlights from the first half of the panel, in which they shared stories from their side of the table. (The second half of the panel was talking with conference participants about their own actual submissions.)
Producers really want to read your musical. It’s surprisingly refreshing to hear that producers really really want to read your musical. Producers hope to shift your perspective away from thinking they’re doing you a favor by considering your show. Producing your musical can be a mutually beneficial relationship.
How do you approach a producer? Advice directly from the producers themselves: How to approach them, and how NOT to. When’s a good time to introduce yourself, and how? Featuring producers from large and small theatres in Los Angeles, and the Edinborough Festival.
Scott Guy inspired us all with tips and tricks from the screenwriting and television world (he’s written and produced for Disney, Warner Bros., NBC, PBS, etc.). His thesis for this special session was on what makes for a good IDEA for a musical. Scott gave specific questions to ask yourself when you’re looking for ideas, or applying a litmus test to the musical which is burning a hole in your heart. Here are some highlights:
Is your character active? What do your characters do to get what they want? How active are they in pursuing their life dreams? And why is that important?
Specificity of Desire. You want a character with a really clear and deep desire. What are the consequences of having your lead character with a specific goal, as opposed to more universal ones?
Is it good entertainment? What’s the entertainment value of your musical? Why would folks go to see a musical based on this idea, as opposed to all their other options? What makes a musical entertaining? And, as a corollary, is it produceable?
Strong Obstacles. Insider’s tip: The more difficult things are for your characters, the more we root for them. Scott talks about the mechanics of making things harder for your characters to get what they want, so the musical is all the more satisfying or heartbreaking. Sample this video for free by clicking this link.
Pitfalls! In your search for a great idea for a musical, watch out for the pitfalls inherent in: biographies, personal life stories, not-so-promising works in the public domain, relevance, and so on.
The Worthiness of a Desire. Will your audience care whether your characters get what they want? Are your characters doing noble work (like “Hairspray”), or are their goals despicable (like “Sweeney Todd”)? How important is that?
Ken Davenport on "Purple Cows"Working from the notion popularized by Seth Godin, about how to get your show to stand out. It’s a cluttered world out there, with hundreds of options competing for your audience’s attention. How do you make sure your musical stands out like a purple cow in a herd of black-and-white ones?
Scott Guy discusses obstaclesInsider’s tip: The more difficult things are for your characters, the more we root for them. Scott talks about the mechanics of making things harder for your characters to get what they want, so the musical is all the more satisfying or heartbreaking.
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Attendees at the 2016 Conference share their pitches. Join us in 2018!