Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I'm looking around

Our local Operatic Society, which used to put on very good shows which didn't cost them the earth to produce or the customer the earth to watch, have, over the last decade or two put on extravaganzas that involve heaps of cash and aren't cheap to attend.

There are two parts to the problem: one is that the Operatic Societies around the country decide together each year or thereabouts to produce a big show, something like Les Miserables. They club together and pay for the sets and costumes to be trundled around the country so that each society can have a turn with the goods without having to build and make them from scratch.

The other is that these shows cost a huge amount to put on in terms of royalties. Seth Godin had something to say about this in his blog the other day. He pointed out that even in the States to put on a now-rather-tired-old-show like Grease still costs the average musical comedy society or high school a good deal of money. $US3000 in the case of this particular musical. And the reason for this is that a small band of licensers have a kind of 'monopoly' on how much should be charged.

Here's Seth's solution. He writes:

Here's the opportunity that the net provides (in this case and so many others): someone should organize the customers and negotiate on their behalf.

Imagine contacting 3,000 high schools and finding 500 willing to join together and agree to act as a buying cartel. Now, the organizer can poll the directors at these schools and find thirty plays they'd be willing to put on next year. Go to the rights holders of these plays and say, "We're going to pick six of these plays. Each of the six will get a huge number of customers as a result, perhaps twenty times as many as you usually get. But to be among the six, you need to lower your price by a factor of ten."

Now, if you're the rights holder, you have a dilemma (but not a huge one). You can agree to lower your price and thus double your annual revenue on this dusty old play, or you can stay where you are and make zero.

As Seth so often does, he makes good sense. It's just a matter of having someone to champion such a process and get it off the ground. I'm looking around....

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