WLTW: Pat Swearingen of Talk to Me on Niching Down

Each Friday Annie Schiffmann hosts What I Learned This Week an Instagram Live show to find out what artists have learned about promoting their work on social media. This week: how finding a specific niche and homing in on it helped Pat Swearingen’s show sell out in NYC.

Audience First Always

Annie Schiffmann went to a big show on Monday night with a legend of musical theater Stephen Sondheim. It was a wonderful night of music and a great way to celebrate such an important composer.

The host, though, Jason Robert Brown (himself a composer and a successful one in his own right) kept saying from the stage how big of a deal this was for him. How he couldn’t believe he was sharing the stage with Sondheim, he was playing songs for Sondheim, how this was a dream come true for him.

And, yes, good for Jason Robert Brown, but how different of a night would it have been in the narrative was less focused on one person (two if you count Sondheim) and more on the other 1200 people in the audience. Was there a way it could have been framed so we all could feel like we were a part of something great?

Pat Swearingen on Finding a Niche to Sell Out a Show

BREAKING NEWS! New shows added! Talk to Me has been extended and tickets are now onsale. How did an unknown play by an unknown playwright find its audience?

Pat Swearingen.jpg

What’s the secret to the show Talk to Me’s selling out? Pat Swearingen spoke with the playwright/producer Megan Boussier about the shows selling out. She said,

a big part of it was that the show was promoted by the aphasia support groups that she had reached out to. She promised a portion of ticket sales to some so it was in their interest to help promote.

Pat is reflective on what he’s noticed as well,

But also, I thinks the show taps into a current trend in entertainment. We want to see 'the other'. Fringe groups don't feel fringe. 'They' are just as mainstream as anyone else. And when their story is told, they show up.

Aphasia is more common than Parkinson's, Cerebeal Palsy, and Muscular Dystrophy, yet you don't hear about it a lot.


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