I saw [title of show] on Saturday, and it exceeded all expectations by combining my two great loves: musical theatre and viral marketing.
SPOILER ALERT After finding out that their show is moving to Broad-way, writers/stars Hunter and Jeff are faced with the Sophie’s Choice of changing their show to appease Broadway audiences, or sticking to the original, scrappy plan. There’s a number, “Nine People’s Favorite Thing”, just before the finale that contains the lyrics,
I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing
Than a hundred people’s ninth favorite thing
Those nine people will tell nine people
Then we’ll have eighteen people loving the show
Then eighteen people could grow into
Five-hundred and twenty-five-thousand, six-hundred people
All loving our show
A song about viral marketing. I nearly died. And here I am, telling all nine people who read this blog to go see the show.
So there’s that, which was fantastic. And there was the YouTube web series, which I’ve already plugged here. But most importantly, here is a musical about two guys writing a musical. It is the perfect example of that life-being-about-the-journey-not-the-destination expression. A Chorus Line achieves the same thing: you care so deeply about the characters by the end of the hour and a half (current Broadway revival…notwithstanding), that you can’t help but apply The Audition to your own life. IBankers, lawyers, publicists: who hasn’t thought who am I anyway, am I my resume? Additionally, both [title of show] and A Chorus Line do what I am convinced is the most important marketing technique of all: give the public a behind-the-scenes look at an industry they are unfamiliar with.
Why the success of Dancing with the Stars and American Idol? Because audiences aren’t simply watching performances, they are watching performances juxtaposed with every step leading up to the performances. You care if D-list celebrity gives a good performance, because you watched her practice her lipo-sucked tail off. You know which parts are hard for her, you know that she “almost gave up”. You know what her favorite parts are. You watch that performance and you can’t help but care.
When was the last time you really cared how a string quartet played, beyond wanting to get your money’s worth? I honestly don’t think I ever have, except maybe when friends are on stage. Get a camera and document the rehearsal of a new piece, from the first meetings with the composer to the day of the performance. Include “confessionals” from group members about their frustrations (the juicier the better, of course), their successes, what they’re looking forward to in the performance, what they’re dreading. Broadcast those videos in installments on YouTube leading up to the premiere, or talk to the venue about playing clips right before the live performance. Actual footage of the process will be more powerful than any pre-concert discussion. Not only would such a project increase ticket sales, but the quartet (or ensemble, or soloist) will be playing to an informed, engaged, excited audience, and what could be better than that.