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6rant6's avatar

Is this how to write a musical?

Asked by 6rant6 (13604 points ) February 19th, 2012

A local theater wants an original “holiday season” event, something with music, for next December.

I’m considering putting together a story with familar maudlin story elemets – love, loss, hopes and fear, yada, yada – and then going to a local songwriters’ group and asking them to write songs for it.

The theater would own right to perform the production without paying royalties for the songs, and would be able to license it to others and charge royalties (with something going to the songwriters) but otherwise the songwriters would retain all rights to the music.

Do you think this is a workable approach?

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10 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

No. Yada yada never turned into “My Fair Lady” or “Hairspray.”

6rant6's avatar

@gailcalled Gail, do you go to the theater? If you did you would know that everything is not a blockbuster. I do not need a blockbuster. Do you have anything that might be helpful to say?

gailcalled's avatar

I think that using maudlin story elements is a bad idea. If you like the concept and having local songwriters write the songs, then do it. You did ask for an opinion, remember?

I do go to the theatre, although selectively, and have all my adult life. There are many original and charming small musicals out there.

SavoirFaire's avatar

If you are asking whether it is a workable approach from a business angle, I think it is. The whole industry is moving towards a new way of managing copyrights, regardless of who tries to stop it. You’d be going in the same direction as the industry, instead of against it, and every little bit helps the new way move forward. So in that respect, I think the idea is brilliant.

As for whether or not you’d get a decent musical out of this, I think it could be an interesting experiment. I assume you will give them the story and tell them where you want the songs. Will the songwriters’ group be coordinating, or will its members be working independently on their own songs? If the latter, you might want to put some uniform constraints on them or just ask them to coordinate a little.

I definitely would have taken an offer like this when I was in music.

Jeruba's avatar

An original musical theatrical production from concept to performance in nine months is a pretty tall order. Could you perhaps find an existing play that has the dramatic elements you want and see about getting permission to turn it into a musical?

marmoset's avatar

That would be a very unusual arrangement in terms of rights and licensing. I suggest googling Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts—help from them will be good if you want to have the greatest chance of putting together a contract with the effects you describe (that the songwriters will agree to).

marmoset's avatar

(I hope it goes without saying that if you try to do something this non-standard with no written agreements, you’re setting yourself up for a world of potential pain/headaches, from many directions. I wish you luck and just am trying to be realistic with you!)

SavoirFaire's avatar

@marmoset It’s not quite as unusual anymore. The traditional copyright has been widely rethought among independent content producers.

6rant6's avatar

Written agreements will be required. There’s an attorney on the board.

@SavoirFaire I hadn’t thought of turning the selection process over to the songwriters. I’m going to sleep on that one. I think it’s so rare that creative people are also good at process AND evaluation that I would hesitate to leave the reigns too slack. But it might be good to get some people in the group to provide advice in the first round of cuts, at least.

I have a vague notion of this being a repeatable exercise. So figuring out how to minimize my time and improving the output is big.

@gailcalled I forgot that you can’t read tongue in cheek without a punctuation mark. Just for you: maudlin~

auhsojsa's avatar

I like the idea with the maudlins. I do think however, the song writers might play a much bigger role in activity. Song writers are the back bone to musical theatre (sorry to offend any actors here)

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