Saturday, June 3, 2023

Integrating poster(s) into your music theatre show

There's always a whole bunch of collateral ideas considered when a music theatre marketing team embarks on their production journey and one of the most memorable is the poster. It's often used as a memento for the cast & crew, to market the event in local coffee shops and signed copies can be big sellers for audience members exiting your theater. Sometimes new shows implement a strategy using multiple posters; for example, the show Eigg the Musical rotates through images that correspond to the perspectives of different characters in the show. This can breath life into the overall campaign by providing intriguing clues on the storyline. Here's the result.

Eigg the Musical poster "Land Grab" Eigg the Musical poster "Margie's Flick"
Posters for "Eigg the Musical" performances in Edinburgh Scotland

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest performance arts festival on the planet, in 2019 it spanned 25 days and featured more than 59,600 performances of 3,841 different shows in 322 venues. Established in 1947 as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival, it takes place in Edinburgh every August. 🎭 😀

Friday, March 31, 2023

Denver based Musical heads to Scotland

Established in 1947 as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF), the Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes place in Scotland every August. It joins EIF as the world's largest performance arts festival and is on the bucket list of just about every music theatre performer and/or theater goer. 

In 2019, we visited the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, it spanned 25 days and featured more than 59,600 performances of 3,841 different shows in 322 venues. The atmosphere is one of comradery and artistry and over the year's the Fringe Society has embraced technology innovations with midnight augmented reality tours and a state of the art website.

Eigg the Musical tickets now available

It's no wonder why we might get excited to hear news that Eigg the Musical, a Denver based music theater show, will be participating in this year's festivities. They'll be performing a Scottish inspired work on the fascinating stories of Eigg, a small island in the inner Hebrides. The show is on the Fringe website and tickets are available for the lucky souls traveling to Scotland this Summer.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

How to create a brand image for a new musical theater show

Creating a brand image for your new music theatre show can be challenging, but if you follow some basic design principles the process can be fun and rewarding. The first step is to find an art director who can put together a concise creative strategy for your graphic designers to work from. It's important to get everyone on your team signed up to the process and the strategy document to eliminate any anecdotal input from stakeholders at a later date. Keep your tactics focused on the execution of the elements provided in  the strategy document. Here's an example for a new show being introduced at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The process took roughly a month from start to finish and went relatively smoothly. The example below includes the initial creative strategy manifesto used to create the final design. Let us know what you think or if you need support with your next show. We'd be glad to help!

Creative Strategy for Eigg the Musical Logo
Creative Strategy (PDF) for Eigg the Musical Logo

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Creating Musical soundtracks during a pandemic

Lots of things have changed with the music theatre development processes lately. It seems like making a soundtrack for a new music theatre work and collaborating remotely have become the new normal. Perhaps, there are just more use cases for our music material these days, but it really doesn't seem that long ago that we'd all gather around the piano with sheet music in hand for our early rehearsals and readings.

Nowadays it seems it's all done online through our favorite web conferencing software. Unfortunately, online latency issues between computers really prohibits audio from multiple sources in real-time so we use small in-home studios with audio software to record and deliver our tracks remotely. This too can be a bit troublesome, since everyone seems to use a different DAW and organizing all the files for your project can be a nightmare.

Recently, we participated in a webinar with the development team for the The Violet Hour (the Musical), based on the play The Violet Hour by Richard Greenberg and they presented their methodology for producing the soundtrack for the show. The speakers were Eric Price (book and lyricist), Will Reynolds (composer) and Andy Einhorn (music supervisor and conductor). The session was organized by the Dramatist Guild of America and Emmanuel Wilson was the moderator. Their process used the traditional method for recording a soundtrack using orchestral musicians and cast members.

We quickly got into the nitty gritty and Eric described how it was fairly easy to get high quality talent into the studio because with the pandemic raging everyone seemed available. Andy described how they all got together in the same room, but were in separate glass sound isolation booths so they could all see each other, but remain safe from possible infection. Will described how they used multiple tempo mappings for things like fermatas and/or rubato. Then, Andy mentioned the orchestration was integrated afterwards similar to a movie process and the instrumentalists could visually see the tempo maps as they performed.

An alternative method for creating a soundtrack would be to use online collaboration software such as Soundtrap (a Spotify tool). The cloud-based application allowed the development team for WYSIWYG, a Colorado based production created by April Alsup, to work on their scores while the actors add their vocal parts in a cloud-based DAW. It doesn't have some of the nuances of a live string section and dialogue and timing can be tricky, but it isn't as expensive as coordinating an entire orchestra for your recording. Virtual instrumentation is often used with modern pit orchestras and once the parts are approved by the producer the audio mastering team creates the master tracks for distribution.

Interactive Version of WYSIWYG

Here's a link to review the new interactive version of WYSIWYG. There's nothing to download and the music is streamed directly to the browser. There are even QR codes if you want to hear the music on your phone as you read the script. Soundtrap has built-in notifications that can notify each participant when the project has been updated. This sort of functionality has been utilized by project managers for enterprise business applications for quite some time and is now being used to streamline the unique requirements found in an artist's creative workflow.

Both projects had a positive outcome and you can hear it in their music. The New York team used tempo mappings and multiple isolation booths to produce a high quality soundtrack in a relatively short period of time, while the Colorado team used collaboration software to pull together actors, musicians and sound engineers into a unified creative process. There are pros and cons to each method, but both show the will power of creative people to produce their art in the face of a pandemic.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Using the ALSUP document format for Music Theatre Productions

In Music Theatre, an ALSUP (Another Libretto Score User Production) guide is a single PDF document that combines a musical's libretto with the show's songs in a single, "easy to use" digital performance package. In the past, (directors, performers, musicians, etc.) of Broadway-type Musicals commonly used two major (printed) documents, a libretto (script, stage directions and lyrics) and a music score (sheet music for the actors/singers and/or musicians) when mounting a new music theatre work. Much of today's licensed collateral is dated and inefficient. The format for an ALSUP performance package was created to take advantage of the functionality and the universal adoption of electronic PDF documents while eliminating the needless duplication of hardcopies for the various personnel involved in a music theater production.

An ALSUP (Another Libretto Score User Production) Document
The new standard was recently adopted and used in New York City at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity for the production of WYSIWYG the Musical and the show was awarded the prestigious Greener Planet Award for it's holistic process and approach. PCTF is the country's first eco-friendly arts festival, providing green marketing and promotional materials and supporting sustainable design production practices.

An ALSUP formatted music theatre document uses graphic icons to link the various parts of a musical's performance package. A TOC (table of contents) icon is provided for a show's "Scenes & Songs" and a User icon for it's "Actors/Characters". The Song icon is used to navigate to a song's sheet music while the Libretto icon is used to link to the script/book. The music notation includes links to the corresponding libretto pages and vice versa from the libretto to the sheet music. Streaming audio links and QR codes are available for rehearsals and/or live online performances directly from the ALSUP document. Here's a link to the award winning ALSUP (Another Libretto Score User Production) download folder used to prepare the WYSIWYG show for the festival mentioned above.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Production compensation webinar: Music Compensation

We recently attended another webinar from the the Dramatist Guild's Production Compensation Series. It's was an in-depth discussion on Music Compensation Rights. The webinar was lead by Ralph Sevush, with an expert panel of contributors including: Sean Flahaven, Jeanine Tesori, Kirsten Childs and Amy VonMacek. We asked April Alsup, our local music theater expert, to represent PAP (The Performing Arts Project) in the webinar.

The first major takeaway from this session was that as a member of the Dramatist Guild there are lots of  resources who are familiar with just about every aspect of the production compensation of Musical Theater works and they are willing to help whenever questions arise, but ultimately an agent and/or publisher should promote your works, manage your rights and they should always be working in your best interest.

Dramatist Guild Music Compensation Panel

There are a lot ways to supplement the music of a theatrical piece. Are you playing your original music live, are you getting played on the radio? Are your songs placed in a TV show, film or commercial that is being played on TV? Songwriters get paid for these types of public performances and PROs (Performing Rights Organizations) like ASCAP and BMI are an integral part of how the music industry get these types of public performances licensed, tracked and then royalties paid to songwriters.

Here's some terminology:

Mechanical rights are regulated federally. In copyright law a mechanical license is a license from the holder of a copyright of a composition or musical work, to another party to create a "cover song", reproduce, or sample a portion of the original composition. It applies to copyrighted works that aren't free, open or in the public domain.

Synchronization rights are the agreements between the owner of a copyrighted composition and the user. A synchronization license grants permission for a user to release the song in other media formats. This permission is also called sync rights and your terms and conditions are completely negotiable.

Grand rights are a type of music licensing that specifically cover the right to perform musical compositions within the context of a dramatic work. This includes stage performances such as musical theater, concert dance, and arrangements of music from a dramatic work.

The license agreements of major Performance Rights Organization (PRO)s such as ASCAP and BMI do not cover grand rights and exclude the usage of compositions within "dramatic" works. Unlike small rights, grand rights must be negotiated directly with the publisher or copyright holder of the composition. Grand rights also differ from sync licensing, the licensing of music to synchronize with video content in films, videos, videogames, etc. Small rights is a term used to cover performances of individual songs in a concert or cabaret-type setting.

Print rights (licenses) provide a significant form of income for interested parties, despite new technology and new revenue streams. Two major sheet music companies are Hal Leonard and Alfred. Sheet Music for commercial music is roughly 1% of an artists revenue, but for music theater composers it can be as much 10% of the music revenue.

Providing your music digitally tends to have a greater amount of piracy issues since the files are easily copied, but the panelist agreed there isn't much you can do about it. Also, they said it's not uncommon for a sheet music provider to give an upfront advance of $25,000 for a completed music score and to be weary of contract provisions that include recuperation costs.

So that's a quick recap of the Music Compensation webinar. If you have any questions don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're glad to help you any way we can.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Canvas Rebel Magazine Interview | Meet April Alsup

Here's an online magazine interview about choosing the Performing Arts as a career profession. April Alsup, a leading music theater expert from Denver, Colorado and PAP artist, shares several tender moments about her decision to pursue a career in the Performing Arts and the inspiration that happens behind the scenes with music theater development projects. To read the full interview and see all the pictures select the link below.

Canvas Rebel Magazine Interview | Meet April Alsup

Canvas Rebel is a national publication based in Dallas, Texas that examines the "modus operandi" of creative people in a way that might be beneficial for others who are dealing with similar issues. Unlike many local media sources, who can be influenced by their advertisers and/or donors, Canvas Rebel is a grassroots organization that considers stories based on its referral network and often draws attention to the human elements of an artist's journey.