Producer Spotlight: Rob Schiffmann on Broadway's Next Hit Musical Merchandise

[Editor's Note: Once a month we have a producer take you behind the curtain, into the rehearsal process, backstage, or on the road to illuminate more the of Broadway's Next Hit Musical process. This month it's co-producer Rob Schiffmann]

One of the 80,000 things that I do as a producer for Broadway's Next Hit Musical is to coordinate the procurement and the sale of the various items that make up our merchandise. This does not seem as though it should be a daunting task but let me tell you something: this is a task that daunts. There is some hardcore dauntage happening here. First, I have to make sure that we have enough of everything. This means keeping an accurate accounting of our numbers. When we are talking about our fancy Broadway's Next Hit Musical Magnets (that come in large or small, by the way), it's not a big deal. You simply count them. But when it comes to our FANCY NEW TEE-SHIRTS (which come in teal and grey in all sizes for the small price of $20), it is, in fact, a pain in the butt because I have to read every label and then refold, etc. Of course, there are also water bottles, battery chargers and my nemesis, buttons. Try counting and sorting all 11 varieties (all available for the low price of $3 or 2 for $5) of these damn buttons. You TOO will get your finger stuck with a sharp pin about 900 times as you put the proper amount in the various road bags, including one for the display bag and then the rest in their own bags for storage. Of course, there's also always the old stand by: the mug (embossed with the BNHM logo and perfect gift for someone who enjoys a nice cuppa Joe).

And this is just the beginning!!

Then I have to make sure that it's all packed away and ready to bring on the road. Once on the road, I have to make sure that the nice people at the merchandise tables at whichever venue we find ourselves know just what to do to sell our merchandise. What should they be saying? Are they clear on the pricing? Do they understand how to make clear to the audience that if an audience member signs the email list, they will get a free download of the winning song from that night's performance? Do they understand that that SAME audience member (or any audience member, for that matter) can buy the full Original Cast Recording from that night's winning musical? Does anyone understand that I then have to edit all that audio, which means combining the house mix with the direct mix in Pro-tools and balancing them out and creating the proper edits and fades and then doing a bounce to a WAV file and converting to mp3??! (Note my intentional use of tech terminology to make it sound really intimidating and thus to gain your sympathy).

So much to do. So much to understand. So much to communicate.

And, of course, we can't simply sit back and sell the same merchandise year after year. We have to have some new swag every now and then. Hit the old refresh button on the merchandismo. Well, that implies a new design, which means coordinating with the graphic designer and the other producers around concept, illustration and production.

This is just one element of what it is to produce Broadway's Next Hit Musical. Tune in next time when I shoot myself in the abdomen to avoid having to deal with booking flights.

Happy holidays!! Now go buy some freakin' merch, will ya??!!!?!?!