The enchanting world of Broadway is not just a hub of artistic expression; it's a multifaceted business with diverse revenue streams. A successful Broadway show can become a veritable goldmine, branching out into various verticals far beyond ticket sales at the theater. An unsuccessful Broadway show could lose it's entire investment, or it can also have multiple branches to generate revenue years after its Broadway close. This comprehensive blog explores the multitude of revenue verticals that can stem from a Broadway show, including cast albums, licensing, live captures, merchandise, sponsorships, tours, and even documentaries. Too often, shows don't consider all of the revenue streams and may close while leaving potential revenue behind. These are some things for productions to at least consider while in development or leading up to their commercial runs, and items for Broadway investors to consider as opportunities.
Cast Album Sales
One of the most traditional and enduring revenue streams for Broadway shows is the cast album. These recordings capture the essence of the show and allow fans to relive the experience or introduce the music to new audiences. Cast albums can generate significant income, especially for hit musicals, and continue to provide revenue long after a show has closed on Broadway.
Cast albums can generate revenue, even in a digital age. Too often, however, shows produce an album for their Broadway show, but just for the show. Shows can consider instrumental versions for karaoke or even full instrumental versions of the show with transition music to expose the show to theaters around the world who may not have full orchestras, like many high schools or local theaters.
Licensing for Regional and Amateur Productions
Once a show completes its Broadway run, licensing for regional, community, and school theater productions can become a lucrative revenue source. Licensing the rights to perform a show can extend its life for years, reaching audiences far beyond New York City and often internationally. It can also set the show up for a revival decades later.
Shows can also consider licensing without Broadway. Some productions can reach critical acclaim regionally, or even through a smaller Off-Broadway production, and consider opening up to licensing.
Live Capture and Streaming Rights
In the digital age, live captures of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows have opened new revenue channels. Shows can be filmed and distributed through streaming platforms, allowing a global audience to experience Broadway productions from the comfort of their homes. This not only extends the show’s reach but also creates an entirely new income stream.
In addition to streaming revenue, a live capture can enhance the licensing value of the show itself. Traditionally, when a show wanted to get into licensing, it would provide its score and book and maybe demos or rehearsal tracks. With a live capture, the production can also show what a fully realized production could look like with a high quality video.
Merchandise sales can be a significant revenue generator for Broadway shows. From T-shirts and programs to more unique items like original cast recordings and branded accessories, merchandise allows fans to take a piece of the show home with them, while providing an additional income stream for the production. When a show closes, shows should consider selling memorabilia from the show; i.e., set pieces, costumes, sketches, etc. There is a huge market for theater memorabilia.
Sponsorship and Partnerships
Sponsorships and partnerships with brands offer another revenue avenue. Brands looking to align themselves with the arts can sponsor shows, providing financial support in exchange for advertising and promotional opportunities. This symbiotic relationship can be particularly beneficial for both parties.
National and International Tours
Touring productions are another possible major revenue source for Broadway shows. By taking the show on the road, producers can tap into new markets and audiences, significantly extending the show's profitability. There are cross-marketing opportunities as well, including promoting the cast album or future licensing.
Documentaries and Behind-the-Scenes Content
The journey of a Broadway show, from inception to stage, can be as captivating as the show itself. Documentaries or behind-the-scenes series provide an in-depth look into this process, attracting both theater enthusiasts and a broader audience, while opening up additional revenue channels. Too often, shows don't think about documenting the process of making the show, which could be a separate feature film in and of itself.
At Least Consider
The revenue potential of a Broadway show often extends well beyond the box office. From cast albums and merchandise to licensing, live captures, and more, each vertical offers a unique opportunity to expand the show's footprint and profitability. As the industry continues to evolve, these revenue streams can not only support the financial health of Broadway productions but also ensure that the magic of Broadway reaches far and wide, touching the hearts of audiences around the globe. While each show is unique, at least consider the different verticals early on. It's heartbreaking to see a show closing that didn't at least consider a capture. Working through those union considerations to make it easier and affordable to capture shows...well, that's for another article.